ATLANTIC CITY -- They sat on opposite sides of the stage for today's news conference heralding tonight's 75th annual Maxwell Club awards.
Archie Manning and Andrew Luck have known each other since Luck was an eighth-grade quarterback at the Manning family quarterback camp, but now, less than two months away from the 2012 NFL draft, they find themselves cast as adversaries, at least in the public mind.
"I know Andrew extremely well, I know his father, they're great people. There's not going to be any trouble between the Lucks and the Mannings," said Archie, this year's Reds Bagnell winner for contributions to football.
Archie's son Peyton is looking at his probable release by the Indianapolis Colts this spring; they are expected to move forward in rebuilding by taking Luck, the Stanford quarterback and Maxwell college player of the year, with the first selection in the 2012 NFL draft.
"They feel just like I do - this thing'll work out," Archie Manning said. "We're all crazy about Andrew," who has been a counselor at the Manning camp the past two summers.
Of course, during that time it was hard to envision the situation the Lucks and the Mannings would confront this year, hard to envision that neck surgery would sideline Peyton for the entire 2011 season, and that the Colts would slide to 2-14.
"If you followed the Colts over the last decade or so, they usually won about 12 a year. All of a sudden, they had a year where they won two and got the first pick in the draft. I'm not sure anybody predicted that, but that's football," Archie said. "It's oblong and it bounces funny."
Luck said attending and then working the Manning camp "was a great experience -- the Mannings do such a great job of letting college quarterbacks get together, coach these kids and sort of congregate as a fraternity of quarterbacks."
Luck said he has not talked to Peyton or any of the Mannings since their fates became intertwined, except to exchange pleasantries with Archie at the Maxwell festivities. Luck is skittish about discussing what might happen with the Colts, since they have neither released Peyton nor drafted him yet.
"There's a lot of speculation about what's going to happen. You handle your own business and you don't really worry about what else is going on ... I'm not really getting caught up in what's going to happen." If he gets a chance to talk with Archie tonight, he will "see where the conversation leads," Luck said.