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Casting His Own Shadow: Out of Peyton’s, Eli Looms Large in Gotham City

Archive   ·   September 22, 2014


When does one know that he has finally ‘arrived?’


In the case of Eli Manning, the obvious moment would appear to be winning Super Bowl XLII and being named MVP. Stepping up in the biggest game of one’s career to the level that Manning did last February is definitely an accomplishment to last a lifetime.


Only if you’re content resting on your laurels.


Following up a performance for the ages is not something that is easy to do. In fact, it may be harder to stay at the top of the hill than it was getting there in the first place. By the time Manning was selected to this season’s Pro Bowl, he had already led the Giants to 12 wins against only two losses en route to another playoff appearance.


“It’s definitely an honor to be selected by the fans and the players and the coaches around the league,” he said. “I am excited about that, but that is something that will look forward to after the season.”


A season that Manning hopes does not end until February 1 in Tampa under a red, white and blue confetti shower. By throwing for over 3,000 yards and better than 20 touchdowns, he has proven that he is far from a one-hit wonder. Through Week 15, he has had three games with a quarterback rating over 100, in which he threw eight touchdown passes against zero picks in wins at St. Louis and Arizona and at home versus Seattle.


What has made Manning’s season even more impressive has been him being able to put up these type of numbers amongst distractions such as the Placixo Burress fiascos. His top wide receiver has been a problem all season long, going back to training camp. It all came to a head with the shooting incident that, for all intents and purposes, ended Buress’s Giant career.


“We have had our share of them (distractions) and I think myself, the players, the coaches have learned how to cope with them and how to deal with them and how to make a distraction bigger by what you say and do,” said Manning. “You have to concentrate on your job and football and the less you say the better you are.”


Putting aside the nonsense purported by Burress has been another proving point in his maturation process. For a player who has had his leadership qualities publicly questioned in the past within his own locker room, Manning has come a long way. Forever compared to his older brother Peyton, Eli’s personality differs from the Indianapolis Colts’ gunslinger. One of the problems that he faced early on was the expectations that come from being a Manning.


By following up Peyton’s MVP in Super Bowl XLI, they may be on an even slate. Both will be battling it out in the postseason and again in Honolulu. They have become the first set of brothers to play quarterback in the Pro Bowl and if things break right for their respective teams, can become the same in a game with much bigger implications.


“If we have the opportunity to get back to the Super Bowl, I will take that,” Eli Manning said. “Our concern is this season and finishing on a good note.”


Yes, Eli Manning has arrived. But apparently not in his eyes – another trait of greatness.


Originally published in the January 2009 issue of New York Sportscene magazine. 

NY Sports Day

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