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I could be one of the gazillion websites and networks to draw comparisons of this Giants team to the one that won the Super Bowl in 2008. I will spare you all from what you’ve already heard countless times: New York won in Green Bay on its way to the Super Bowl, New York faced the same team in the postseason that had provided late-season momentum albeit in losing fashion, which happened to be the top team in the league both times, etc.
I’m here to tell you it’s time to give credit where credit is due, and Eli Manning is long overdue.
For a player that A) has a Super Bowl win and B) needed to lead the offense down the field in the final minute to win that Super Bowl, Eli has taken too many undeserving jabs. Whether its because he shares Peyton’s last name or his goofy demeanor is not one which lines up nicely with the swagger New York sports tends to call for, Eli’s play is often overshadowed because he isn’t as smooth as big brother or his awe-shucks persona isn’t as charming as Tim Tebow’s.
The sports world collectively scratched their heads when Eli said he belonged in the same class as guys like Tom Brady on a radio interview. Not only is it ridiculous for anyone to expect him to lack self-confidence, but any doubts about Eli’s place in the quarterback ranks can’t be questioned. As of this post, only 5 of 32 starting quarterbacks this season have won a Super Bowl (Peyton Manning excluded), and only Ben Roethlisberger and Tom Brady have more rings than Eli.
When you consider the circumstances, it makes this season’s career year all the more impressive. Manning plays in a system which has been all but forgotten in today’s league, one that heavily emphasizes the run. Only when the run has failed, which it has more than New York would like, does Eli take the reins and work his magic. Manning has shown a propensity to deliver in two-minute drills and the no-huddle offense. However, where Brady and Drew Brees have the ability to call all the shots, Manning is initially saddled with a ball-control offense.
Also take into account that Manning had lost key receivers in tight end Kevin Boss and Wide Receiver Steve Smith. Those two were replaced with Jake Ballard and Victor Cruz. Both have paid off, but with the lockout shortening training camp, Manning had little time to develop a rapport with these two new guys. Manning went on to throw for a career-high 4.933 yards.
What adjustment period?
Manning broke the single-season record for fourth-quarter touchdown passes with 15, a record previously held by brother Peyton.
Manning never becomes an emotional roller coaster like we’ve seen with many quarterbacks. No matter the situation, Manning keeps his composure during extreme highs and lows. Critics will point to this as a lack of passion, intensity, whichever word tickles your fancy. While you were thinking of the most fitting word, Manning just led another fourth quarter comeback, a recurring trend as Manning has 6 to his name this season alone.
Aaron Rodgers, America’s Sweetheart nowadays, Tebow aside, was outshined by Manning Sunday afternoon. Rodgers may be more loved nationwide with his discount double check and all, but Manning won’t mind having to pass on commercial shoots. He’s still got practice for a big game or two if I’m not mistaken.
Remember Tiki Barber questioned Eli Manning’s leadership skills the summer before the Super Bowl win over New England? He ate quite a bit of crow for that whole ordeal, among other things. Barber had his humble pie and it’s now the sports fan’s turn to have a slice. Manning gets lost in the shuffle, either by the GQ model who shares a stadium with Eli, who in his third season, has done little, if not regress as a quarterback, Peyton’s ongoing saga in Indianapolis, that Brady’s so hot right now, or Tebow Time. Manning continues to go out and produce results like the rest of the elite quarterback pack, whether the praise is there or not. The way things are looking right now, Peyton might just be looking up to Eli in the ring department if Eli can lead the Giants to two more wins.
Peyton supporters, rest assured if Eli does win a second Super Bowl and surpass Peyton. He will never catch Peyton in the commercials department, which is all that really matters in this media-frenzy society we now live in, right?
Maybe so, but Eli won’t mind. He stepped up to the plate in August and said he belongs in the big boy discussion, doing just that in supporting his cause. Like they say, you can’t spell elite without Eli.