Who is in for a round of the Manning family drinking game this Sunday?
Every time Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth say Peyton or Eli, have a sip of your beverage. Every time the camera finds their parents in a luxury box, take a healthy slug. If they show the doghouse on the family compound that Jim Sorgi calls home, do a keg stand. Whenever they reference Cooper, the forgotten brother, as the one who is actually the best athlete, chug what's left in your glass.
By the end of the night you should be well soused -- let's leave the driving to those who don't follow football, please -- and awfully tired of hearing discussion of the Manning family.
Thank goodness that these games come only once every four years unless both the Colts and Giants find their way into the Super Bowl. That's often enough that we've gotten to see two of them and enjoy the sheer improbability of two brothers being top-flight NFL quarterbacks at the same time and not often enough that it can be turned into something as overblown as the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry.
That improbability is really the thing to savor from this matchup and not the idea that this somehow acts as a referendum on the career of either quarterback. Obviously Eli is closer to his big brother this time than he was in 2006, but one game isn't going to somehow narrow the gap between the two of them. Peyton might be the most accomplished quarterback of all time. Eli is an elite quarterback, but he's not Peyton and that's not something that can be held against him.
Continuing on that trend, whoever wins this game is likely going to owe a good measure of credit to his defense, offensive line and running backs for their help. The quarterbacks get the acclaim but somehow it is clearer than ever this week that there isn't any rational way to turn football games into battles between them. That doesn't mean NBC won't try and it doesn't mean that people won't buy, of course, but it is far more enjoyable to appreciate the special nature of this matchup than some ginned up attempt to make it mean something that wouldn't cross anyone's mind if one of these quarterbacks was named Feffernutter.
Far better to just enjoy the moment for what it is because that's good enough all on its own.