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One of the most fascinating football stories to come out this Super Bowl week involves Peyton Manning, who didn't play a single down all season.
You know yesterday's saga by now. ESPN reported that Peyton was cleared by two doctors to resume his football career. And then, Colts owner Jim Irsay sent out a tweet refuting that report. Irsay and Manning have staged an uneasy dance with the media this past month, all of it amplified by the fact that the Super Bowl is being played this week in Indianapolis. With Manning's enormous bonus due in March, the slow divorce between him and the only team he's ever known is one of the most interesting things going on in football right now.
You might expect Eli Manning to hate this. Here he is, playing in a Super Bowl for the second time, and people are talking about his brother. PEYTON, PEYTON, PEYTON!!! It would be perfectly fair for Eli to stomp his feet and tell his brother that this is HIS party, and all this neck talk is ruining it.
But I don't think Eli probably cares all that much. Always content to recede from the spotlight, Manning probably welcomes this whole diversion. This could have been an enormously tense week for Eli -- forced to deal with a Pats team bent on revenge and trying to cement his reputation as one of the best QBs in football by winning a second ring The Giants are underdogs in this game, but plenty of people are expecting them to win. This isn't like 2008. There isn't the same sense that New York has nothing to lose in this game.
But the Peyton story is acting as a vacuum that sucks away all that scrutiny. All anyone can talk about is Peyton. Eli can just stand back and watch that circus from afar, going about the business of trying to win a football game. Eli has long thrived on being the runt of the litter -- the little brother that no one expects much from. And now, at a time when he should be the epicenter of media scrutiny, of heightened expectations, he can again indulge in being forgotten. He probably leaked that clearance report to ESPN himself. Eli Manning is an evil genius like that.