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Peyton Manning drama a super subplot as Super Bowl approaches

Welcome to Super Bowl XLVI, home of the $16 hamburger and $4 cup of coffee. And a couple thousand dollars for a ticket to the game, if you’re still flush Sunday.

Good thing these New York Giants and New England Patriots rake in big paydays, win or lose. They’ll need it. Hoosier hospitality this week stops at the cash register. A signed copy of my home mortgage is on file at the JW Marriott.

Maybe they should call it Super Gouge XLVI. That’s what it is. This isn’t by design of the NFL. It’s just supply and demand. More people are looking for rooms than there are rooms, so that’s why I’m paying $315 a day.

That’s supposed to be a special rate for media. What do you think it might be for someone who walked in off the street? $1,000 a day?

Anyway, that’s one thing the Manning brothers don’t have to worry about. They could buy this hotel, and get change back. Only right now I bet Eli would prefer winning this game to every dollar in Indy. He mentioned that when he said, “I can’t imagine there’s ever been a game I’d rather win — and I’ve been in a lot of big ones.”

Funny thing about Super XLVI. It’s being played in a building that is still being paid for in large part through the efforts of the Giants quarterback’s brother.

Does that entitle Eli to any special consideration?

Well, maybe a couple of extra whacks on the neck from some Patriot meanies.

Eli a co-star

“It’s funny how much talk there is about Peyton when he isn’t playing in it,” says Brian Billick, the old Baltimore Ravens coach. “Sometimes this week it seems like people are talking more about him than about Eli.”

Makes sense. Indy is emotionally invested in Peyton. It’s only commercially invested in Eli, and only this week. After this game he’ll be just another visiting mark from New York.

For all his big-town ties, Eli’s just another wide-eyed tourist here now. He recoiled when he was asked, “If they made a movie, which actor would play you?”

Then he said, “All the actors are too good-looking to play me.”

That’s partly true. I don’t mean anything unkind when I say Eli has sort of a loopy look, like a guy who can’t figure out where the bus-stop is — and if he has the fare.

If you didn’t already know it, you wouldn’t guess he grew up as the son of a celebrity. His dad, Archie, was famous as a quarterback for the New Orleans Saints.

“Even after Dad retired, people would still come up to him and want to shake his hand,” Eli said. “I thought all dads sign autographs.”

Now Eli does the same as Archie did. He never skips a kid or a proffered pen unless he’s absolutely running too late to stop.

“I try to remember how much it meant to me when Dad would bring other players around. And they were always so nice to me,” he grinned. “Well, most of them were. Except for a few defensive linemen.”

Don’t forget Brady

Eli’s opposite number, Tom Brady, grew up around a lot of women. “Three older sisters,” he said. “They were pretty easy on me. Dressed me up a few times in their clothes. Painted my nails once.”

Bet the Patriots won’t be trying that.