Helton, Smith have eye on 'Manning Bowl'

Helton, Smith have eye on 'Manning Bowl'

LOS ANGELES -- While Peyton and Eli Manning are preparing for this Sunday's "Manning Bowl," two Rockies players can say they knew each before they developed into elite quarterbacks in the NFL.

Rockies left fielder Seth Smith backed up Eli when he played at Ole Miss, while first baseman Todd Helton backed up Peyton when he played at Tennessee.

Helton was even ahead of Manning on the depth chart during his junior year, yet a knee injury placed Peyton in the starting role as a freshman.

The first baseman, who remains close friends with the Colts quarterback, has even invited him to games in Cincinnati and Denver, where Peyton has taken batting practice and even hit a home run.

"It has been fun and it is always good to have him for a friend and see him," Helton said. "He had a pretty good swing."

While Helton did not say if he has converted Peyton into a Rockies fan, Colorado's first baseman said that when they do talk, it usually isn't about baseball or their time at Tennessee together.

Smith said he and the Giants' starting quarterback talk occasionally; yet see each other most often when they return to Ole Miss for sporting events.

"While I was there, you could tell he was going to be a good quarterback," Smith said. "You could tell he was going to get a good shot at the NFL."

Helton and Smith have conversations about football, but never venture into their time backing up both Mannings. The Giants visit the Colts on Sunday night.

"It is going to be a good football game Sunday and I just enjoy watching football," Smith said. "They are both great quarterbacks, and I had a chance to play with one of them."