[Editor's note: this is a guest post written for Midwest Sports Fans by Diana Klochova, the winner of the P&G-sponsored Blogger Fantasy Football League* that I participated in this year. Diana won a trip to the Super Bowl, which gave her the opportunity to do fun things like interview Olivia Manning, the mother of Peyton and Eli. Diana's description and the interview is posted below.]
What does it take to raise not one, but two, NFL quarterbacks? Well, a lot of food, nerves of steel, and probably a good deal of Febreze if you’d like to breathe comfortably in your own home after the kids get home from practice. It’s no wonder Olivia Manning, mother to Peyton and Eli, has partnered up with Febreze. What’s really great, though, is the program they are running and promoting together here in Dallas for Super Bowl XLV.
The first-ever Febreze Game Day Sports Equipment Drive is collecting gently used sports equipment from visitors to their station at the NFL Experience (pictures at bottom of post). They are collaborating with the Salvation Army to get the gear smelling fresh and into the hands of those who cannot afford their own.
Today, I had a chance to visit their tour bus to see this wonderful program in action and sit down with Mrs. Manning. An incredibly warm and gracious woman, she gave me a glimpse into the personalities of her two superstar sons from the perspective of the woman who knows them best.
Many thanks to those of you on P&G’s Take It to the House Facebook page who submitted questions. Enjoy!
DK: Since we’re here with Febreze, let’s start with: Who has the smelliest house?
OM: Probably Peyton, but because he has two big dogs. Eli just has one little one, and if I said his house smelled, his wife would kill me. But Peyton’s labs can be a little smelly after running through the woods and all that. They don’t run wild through the house or anything, but they’re still dogs so they can be smelly.
DK: Who takes losses the hardest?
OM: Peyton is a lot more vocal about it than Eli. Eli keeps it inside, but Peyton sort of lets it out a little bit more, so you would think by the way he reacts that he takes it harder. But I’m sure it’s equally hard on both of them.
DK: How do they console themselves after a loss? Big tub of Ben and Jerry’s?
OM: I think they really just go back to the drawing board to see what they can improve upon. There’s always a game coming a week later, so there isn’t too much time for them to dwell on it. Except, of course, last year’s Super Bowl loss; Peyton had a whole year to dwell on that, so that was very difficult for him.
DK: Who’s shier?
OM: (Immediate answer) Eli. He’s the shiest of all three boys.
DK: Is he also the biggest momma’s boy, then?
OM: Yes, and he’ll tell you that, too. He likes to think he’s the favorite. Now, I don’t play favorites, but he’s definitely the baby of the family.
DK: Which is the better actor?
OM: I think Peyton’s just had a little more experience, but Eli really likes it. He never thought he’d be approached to do commercials, but he’s willing. Peyton surprised us with all that, because he was just always a football player. But they do enjoy it, especially when they can do something like that together, that’s when they really have a lot of fun.
DK: Which one eats the most?
OM: (Immediate answer) Peyton. He eats A LOT. I think he gets grumpy if we don’t feed him enough, so we make sure to give him plenty.
DK: Which one is the better dancer?
OM: I would say Eli. He’s never taken ballroom dancing lessons or anything like that, but at weddings and things he’s the one who likes to get out on the dance floor. He likes to dance, and he’s pretty good.
DK: So is he the one who’s more of the center of attention at parties?
OM: It’s funny how that works out. It depends on whose party. If it’s people they’re comfortable with, they’ll both get up and be the center of attention. If there are a lot of people they don’t know, they’ll hold back a little bit. But my oldest son, Cooper, he’s the one who’s always on stage with the microphone.
DK: What did you feed them growing up?
OM: Really, it was just normal, healthy eating. I mean, they did eat a lot. There were definitely a lot of carbs: mashed potatoes, rice, gravy. They really are truly healthy eaters, though – there aren’t a lot of desserts. These days when they come back to New Orleans they do like to get some of the traditional food, some creole cuisine, because they don’t get much of that anymore where they live.
DK: How do you choose which games you go to every year?
OM: As soon as we get the schedule we start looking at our calendars, seeing if they’re playing the Saints, seeing if they’re playing at the same time, and we work it all out from there. If they’re playing at the same time, which doesn’t happen too often, we really don’t like to be in one state watching one game and wondering what’s happening with the other one, so we try to stay at home and watch both at the same time. So we basically just talk it out and have to do a lot of planning.
DK: Do either of them keep track of how many of their games vs. the other son’s games you see?
OM: I’ve always felt like Peyton kind of keeps score. But it’s fun to go to Indianapolis, and it’s fun to go to New York, so we try to balance it out. Because Peyton’s been playing in Indianapolis for so much longer, we’ve tended to visit New York more recently, but we really enjoy going to Indianapolis, too. It has the nicest people in the world, and it’ll be a great host city for the Super Bowl next year. I think we’re just lucky to have them both playing in such great cities.
DK: So when you’re watching these games, how do you deal with the stress of the potential of injuries?
OM: Oh, I’m a wreck. I don’t know if you saw this past preseason, but Eli got a huge gash on his head. Now as the mother of boys, I know how a head injury can just bleed and bleed, but it’s always still frightening for me.
DK: Do you have a system for finding out what happened when you see something like that?
OM: Well, that time, for example, his wife, Abby, called me and let me know what was going on right away. I have to say, though, that we’ve been really fortunate with injuries, and we never take that for granted.
DK: What’s the nicest “thank you” you’ve received from them for raising them for 18 years?
OM: Well, Archie and I just celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary (which makes me feel ancient!), and the boys got together and did a great job putting together a nice getaway weekend for us. It was in New Orleans, because we didn’t have time to travel, but that was really nice and sweet and thoughtful, and they’re just always that way. I don’t know which one of them is the one that gets these things going – probably the daughters-in-law – but they all participate.
And I will say that they each gave their dad a Super Bowl ring. That was so nice because after playing for New Orleans all those years and never getting to the playoffs, he finally got his Super Bowl rings, and I thought that was really special.
* – The P&G Blogger Fantasy League (BFL) is a group of 12 digital sports influencers competing on the NFL.com fantasy platform for the chance to win P&G product, a donation to a local charity, and a trip to Super Bowl XLV, all furnished by P&G. The NFL Entities have not offered or sponsored the sweepstakes in any way.