Eli Manning versus Peyton Manning Brings Out The Sibling Rivalry In Us All


When Eli and Peyton Manning take the field on Sunday a lot more is at stake than just a football game between the Giants and Broncos.  It is a match-up between two brothers and for anyone who has had a sibling they can relate to the natural competitiveness that can, and often does emerge from that relationship.

Another  element here and one that provides even a deeper emotional pull for us is the fact that these two elite players not only happen to be brothers, but also have a father Archie, who also played quarterback in the NFL.

Many of us know that athletic competition or for that matter competition between family members and siblings in any realm– grades, looks and so on-  can be very intense.

All of this makes for a good family story and deep emotional reactions on our part. There is little doubt if their parents attend the game we will be given a million reactions shots of them.

Stories about families and sibling relationships date back to Cain and Abel and we all know what happened there. We are all aware that growing up in the same household with parents and siblings can have its emotional ups and downs.

We often regale others with stories about growing up in our households as those events had indelible effects on our psyches. They are frequently repeated when families get together and are passed from one generation to the next. Some of them being very funny—some not.

Eli Manning reminded us this week how scared he was when Peyton was going through his surgeries on his neck. He also recalled that Peyton used to hold him down and make him name all the NFL teams. And Eli also indicated that growing up in a house where he was the youngest brother made him tougher.

Sibling relationships are complex and they run the gamut in terms of their degree of connectedness, intimacy and hold different psychological ramifications for all involved.

Given the pressures of living together and all that goes on in households, it is miracle that we get along as well as we do, and there are many wonderful relationships between children. The Mannings by all accounts are a tight knit group– but it does not always work out that way.

As parents we all want and desire that our children should get along and love each other.  Many of us get upset when they do not have the degree of connectedness and relationships we would like them to have.

Coming to terms with the fact that this does not always happen is often quite difficult for parents to emotionally reconcile— and rightly so. They are after all their mother and father with deep emotional ties to their children.

I sit with parents all the time who are consternated that their children do not get along– perhaps more often than I sit with parents who speak about how thrilled they are that their children do get along. But maybe that is due to the business I am in.

However, common sense suggests that just because one is born into a family does not automatically assure that they are going to have good relations and care deeply for each other, even though we desperately want them to.

Moreover, the statistical probability that all will get along and have the same degree of connectedness and feelings for each other decreases with the more children one has—as more things can happen– and they do.

I frequently remind parents that it was they who chose to have their children and that their children did not choose to have each other– or for that matter to be brought into this world.

In addition, in talking with children (of all ages –some being over 50) who often feel guilty and pressured by their parents to not only feel a certain way about their sibling, but to have the kind of relationships their parents want,  I remind them that they did not choose to have their brothers and sisters–their parents did.

Anyone who has been part of a family will tell you that the relationships we form within them are quite complex in their emotional makeup and can change over time.  Many of us have friends that we feel are like a brother or sister to us, and we feel closer to them than we actually do to our biological siblings.

To further complicate matters sometimes we are actually closer to our cousins then we are to our brothers and sisters, and some have deeper connections with grandparents and uncles and aunts then they do with their parents.

This all speaks to both the complexities of human relationships and family dynamics where wonderful things can and do happen, but the types and kinds of connections we make within our family varies and are not guaranteed.

Whether it was the fact that your brother held you down or your sister helped you learn how to dance before your first party, there are a million stories that come out of family relationships– and the point is we all have them.

The Manning brothers are not immune to these emotions, dynamics and have their own stories. So when they take the field on Sunday they too will bring all their family experiences with them.  As will we.