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Klee: Is it brotherly love or sibling rivalry with the Mannings?

photo - Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning, left, and brother Eli Manning, quarterback for the New York Giants, talk during football workouts at Duke University in Durham, N.C., Thursday, April 11, 2013. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome) + caption
Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning, left, and brother Eli Manning, quarterback for the New York Giants, talk during football workouts at Duke University in Durham, N.C., Thursday, April 11, 2013. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
By Paul Klee Updated: September 14, 2013 at 7:54 pm 0

NEW YORK - The biggest cover-up in football isn't Johnny Manziel's autographs, Alabama's boosters or the Giants faking injuries.

It's the Manning brothers.

Get a load of these guys.

"He's a big brother and one my best friends," Eli said.

Fellas, this is 'Mericuh.

New York, even! What's with all the hugs and kisses?

Or is this the best acting job since football on your phone?

"Eli's been a very consistent player throughout his whole career," Peyton said.

Here's the translation for "consistent," if this were a blind date: She's got a great personality.

Best friends? Sorry, I'm not buying it.

When the cameras roll at MetLife Stadium on Sunday, take a long, hard look at Peyton on the Broncos' sideline and Eli on the Giants' sideline.

See if you notice a smile.

Are we sure these guys even like each other?

"This week we won't talk about football," Eli said.

It's a sad day when brothers don't talk. The pressures of being football's first family has built a nasty sibling rivalry. It has just torn them apart.

Truth is, the brothers handled the weeklong hype machine preceding Manning Bowl III as smoothly as they handle everything from Buick ads to neck surgeries to rap videos. It's quite remarkable how a totally non-Hollywood duo can be so perfectly Hollywood.

But dig deeper. Trace the steps of a brotherhood gone bitter. Hidden beneath a disguise of brotherly love is a deep, dark resentment.

Peyton hosted Saturday Night Live. He nailed it.

Then Eli hosted Saturday Night Live. Very clearly, baby brother had to one-up his big brother. Eli nailed it, too.

Try as they might to put on a happy face, this family feud goes way back - at least to their college days.

Dad (Archie) goes to Ole Miss.

Peyton breaks family tradition and goes to Tennessee.

Eli breaks Peyton tradition and goes to Ole Miss.

I can't be the only one seeing this, right?

The animosity continued into their NFL careers.

San Diego had the No. 1 overall pick in the 2004 draft. Eli refused to play for San Diego and forced a trade to the Giants.

It's pretty obvious why he did that.

Eli knew that Peyton one day would play for the Broncos in the AFC West - and he wanted no part of sharing a division with his brother.

Peyton won their first two matchups as NFL quarterbacks: Colts 26, Giants 21 (in 2006 in New York, but not at MetLife) and Colts 38, Giants 14 (in 2006 in Indianapolis).

"I haven't played in this particular stadium," Peyton said, referring to the building where the next Super Bowl will be played.

In the more recent meeting, Peyton completed 20 of 26 passes for 255 yards. He was equally effective when facing a blitz (5 of 8) as when he wasn't (15 of 18), according to Pro Football Focus. Peyton was good under pressure.

Eli is great under pressure. His 8-3 playoff record, against Peyton's 9-11 playoff record, is the one area where little brother trumps big brother.

As he spoke to Denver media last week, Eli gave the impression of a man on a mission. A mission to beat his brother.

"In a way I hope he doesn't win a championship because (it means) the Giants are competing for a championship, as well," Eli said.

Aha! The truth comes out.

"When I look back on the times we've played against each other," Eli continued, "You'll remember the national anthems, nodding over at your big brother, talking to him before the game, the handshake after the game. Those things are special moments."

OK, I give up.

Maybe there is no cover-up, just two brothers in a matchup memorable for all of us.

"It is unique, and I think you do take a moment to realize it is special," Peyton said.

-

Twitter: @Klee_Gazette

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