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Jones: Manning, Wilson Have A History — Even If They Don’t Know It

Seahawks QB Connected To Broncos Legend, Trying To Emulate Him In Every Way
Peyton Manning  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images), Russell Wilson (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

Peyton Manning (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images), Russell Wilson (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

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By Kimberly Jones
» More Columns

Connections in the NFL are funny. Everyone seems to know everyone, at least by extension.

And first meetings often seem to find a way to come full circle.

Such is the case with Peyton Manning and Russell Wilson, the two quarterbacks – of course – who will go at it during Super Bowl XLVIII.

Wilson was a high school sophomore, taking part in Manning Passing Academy. He was in a group of about dozen players. Their coach? Peyton.

Fast-forward to Wilson’s visits in the weeks leading up to the April 2012 draft. The Broncos brought in Wilson, he met Peyton, who asked him: “Do I know you?”

That story, by the way, reminds us of a day back in 2002, when we looked on as a young Dwight Freeney approached Michael Strahan at his corner locker at the old Giants Stadium. When Strahan was in the midst of what should be, come Saturday, a Hall of Fame career, and Freeney, out of Syracuse, was on a pre-draft visit with the Giants.

As often is the case, we digress.

So here we were Monday in Jersey City, with Wilson at the beginning stages of a week that must feel like a dream and that could change his life. And he’s got to beat Peyton to realize the full effects of the ultimate kind of fantasy football: to be a Super Bowl champion.

Wilson and Manning have a few things in common, though age and experience are not among them. Their age difference of more than 12 years represents the greatest in Super Bowl history. And Wilson reached this stage in just his second season.

Wilson shares Manning’s ability to lead and his desire to be great. Wilson said Monday that he’d like to duplicate Manning’s depth of knowledge of the game and his off-field persona, presumably including endorsements. And Wilson added this: “He wants to do everything right.”

Teammates say the same about Wilson.

Veteran Seahawk Michael Robinson said Wilson has a favorite quote that helps to explain his success: “The separation is in the preparation.”

Robinson smiled then added, “To hear a young guy say that is almost unheard of.”

Oh, Eli: For as much as we make of Eli and Peyton giving each other some brotherly advice regarding common opponents, it’s tough to remember when it’s actually worked out for either. As Peyton said, “It’s wasn’t one of the Giants’ better days. So he said to not ask him for a whole lot of help there.” Eli threw five picks, two by Richard Sherman, in the Giants’ 23-0 home loss to Seattle last month. Maybe Eli could show his brother what not to do.

Speaking of Sherman: In the aftermath of his postgame interview heard ’round the world, his one Super Bowl media availability was completely uneventful. “I’m enjoying it, man,” Sherman said. “You’re constantly learning and growing as a person, learning about how the world works and how what you say and do affects people and affects kids, especially. It’s fun to learn new things about people, the bad, the good, and to have that open dialogue.”

Media day awaits: The teams have already had two media sessions – unlike most years neither arrived Monday – prior to Media Day. It will still be crazy. Sherman figures to be the biggest draw. Word is that Marshawn Lynch, one of the league’s best players, will not have a podium at the Prudential Center. That’s amazing. He wasn’t available Sunday or Monday, either. Lynch dislikes talking to reporters that much and is being accommodated.

Follow Kim on Twitter at @KimJonesSports

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