Peyton Manning was captured by NFL Films cameras telling New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick that this could be his "last rodeo" in the moments following the Broncos' 20-18 win in the AFC Championship game last Sunday. Though Belichick's comments weren't picked up by microphones, Manning's words indicate the 39-year-old might have just one game left.
Eli Manning, of course, is rooting for his brother but insists he doesn't know whether this will be the last time Peyton is seen in the NFL.
"He has not said anything to me about it," Eli said on a conference call Wednesday. "But I think I kind of may think like everybody else, where you see this as possibly being the last game. I don't know if he knows himself or if he's thought about it. But when you get to Year 19 and you deal with some injuries and things going on ... it would be a good way to go out.
"I don't know if it is, but because of that possibility, I hope he can win this game. And if he decides to hang it up, he can go out on top."
"There's no bragging rights, because we both know that it's a team effort and about everything going the right way," said Eli, who will attend Super Bowl 50 with his family. "One player can't control the outcome of a whole season or a certain game because of other circumstances. So I've never mentioned that, or we've never compared who has more rings. Never been a discussion or come up in any way."
Peyton Manning missed six regular-season games this season due to injuries and returned to the lineup in the Week 17 finale, leading the Broncos to a win over the San Diego Chargers that provided Denver with home-field advantage over the Patriots for the conference title game.
With the win over New England, Manning earned back $2 million of the $4 million pay cut he agreed to in March that reduced his 2015 salary from $19 million to $15 million.
If the Broncos quarterback wins Super Bowl 50 against the Carolina Panthers on Feb. 7, he will earn the remainder of the pay cut -- $2 million -- back.
Eli Manning said his brother's legacy doesn't ride on a Broncos victory in the Super Bowl, which will be held at the new Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif. If Denver loses, Peyton would become the fourth quarterback in NFL history to lose three Super Bowls -- joining Jim Kelly (4) of the Buffalo Bills, Fran Tarkenton (3) of the Minnesota Vikings and his boss, John Elway (3), of the Broncos.
"Peyton and his impact on the game of football will not be determined and based off this one game," Eli said. "He's kind of, in a lot of ways, changed the game -- with the no-huddle offense they had in Indianapolis for so long, and all he does at the line of scrimmage. He was the starter of doing all that. Five MVPs and Super Bowl appearances, won a lot of football games, played at a high level for a long, long time.
"I hope he can win, but his impact has already been made and his legacy, I don't think it should be affected by this one game."
At 39 years and 320 days, Manning will be the oldest quarterback to start a Super Bowl, surpassing Elway in 1998 (38 years, 217 days).