Blog Entry

Eli No Longer Simply Peyton’s Brother

Posted on: January 16, 2012 5:37 am
Edited on: January 16, 2012 1:25 pm
 
Primetime Thoughts

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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.

Comments

Since: Feb 6, 2012
Posted on: February 6, 2012 9:50 pm
 

Eli No Longer Simply Peyton’s Brother

There's been a lot of talk about what another Super Bowl win would do for Eli Manning's legacy -- would it vault him above older brother Peyton in the pro football Pantheon? Eli spoke with Kurt Warner on the NFL Network this week about the sense of competition between the two brothers.

"There is always a rivalry with your brother. Playing in high school football, who can have more touchdowns — those things are fun. Once you get to this level, this is our job, this is what we do for our career. It's not something that you joke around a whole lot [about]. I know Peyton is proud of me. He's proud that I'm in this situation; he's rooting me on like I'm proud of him of what he's done in his career and rooted him on when he was playing in his second Super Bowl and first Super Bowl. I want to win for all of the right reasons — it's about the Giants, about our coaches, about just winning a championship. Not for bragging rights."




Since: Feb 6, 2012
Posted on: February 6, 2012 9:49 pm
 

Eli No Longer Simply Peyton’s Brother

Appreciate quarterback ,  fans, because performers like him are rare.

Hours prior to Super Bowl XLVI, I conversed with a couple of pals at Yankee Stadium. I told them New York was going to defeat the —not just due to being a better team overall—but because Manning gets it done when it matters most … more than anyone else in professional football, in my opinion.

He regularly makes plays when one is desperately needed, when that crucial moment arrives. He makes plays that answer prayers, that make the difference. I greatly respect that, but don't count me among those who're shocked by Manning's flair for the dramatic.

I recognized it when he drove New York down the field to beat the  late in the fourth quarter early in his career. I saw then an apex predator, hitherto hidden beneath the facade of a guy who often looked pathetic, weak and lost behind center. Before beating Denver, Manning was the proverbial deer in the headlights in my eyes, the king of poor, doofus-like body language. Heck, I think he still holds that title, though on a part-time basis.

But he is also the King of Clutch these days, and has been since beating and Bill Belichick four years ago. He beat them again Sunday night in Indianapolis, improving to 2-0 over the NFL's most lionized pair when everything is on the line.

Back then it was escaping an apparent sack to complete an incredible pass to , minutes before throwing the game-winning touchdown pass to . This time around, Manning finds receiver on the left sideline for an important 38-yard completion, after which running back  put New York ahead with a touchdown the Patriots and their fans wanted one trillion times more than Bradshaw himself.

Brady's Hail Mary prayer went unanswered as time expired, so the most undesired TD in Super Bowl history—by followers of the scoring team, at least—held.

Giants 21, Patriots 17.

Brady,  and  have unequivocal ownership over the "elite quarterback" label, yet none have won more Super Bowls than Manning since 2008. Were I Manning, I'd say, "Keep the label, resume making Pro Bowl appearances and please, please exclude me from your exclusive club. I've taken a liking to collecting shiny objects in early February."

And lastly, do not, if you possess any care at all for things that make sense, or the practice of not wasting time on that which is prodigiously worthless, compare  to Eli Manning ever again.




Since: Jan 1, 2012
Posted on: January 28, 2012 11:45 am
 

Eli No Longer Simply Peyton’s Brother

  has played quarterback in the considerable shadow of big brother and future Hall of Famer , but next week he could surpass him in the most important statistical category - Super Bowl titles.

Eli is aiming for his second championship when he leads the New York Giants against the New England Patriots in the National Football League’s (NFL) title game on Feb. 5 in the same stadium where Peyton’s Indianapolis Colts play their home games.


He performed his heroics with Peyton on the sidelines, his illustrious career in jeopardy after neck surgery wiped out his entire season. But big brother continued to be there for Eli every Friday for their customary phone chats about strategy and defensive coverages.The 2011 NFL season was a career year for Eli, who showed poise by engineering seven fourth-quarter comebacks and setting a league record for fourth-quarter touchdown passes.

The 31-year-old Giants quarterback said he savors every opportunity he has on gridiron.

“We’re reminded every year how fortunate we are to play this game and how quickly it can slip away,” Eli told reporters. “Whether it’s an injury, whether it’s one of your team mates who you’ve had here who gets let go. You never know when your last play might be.”

The standout season came after Eli started a firestorm of debate when asked before the campaign if he thought of himself as an elite quarterback in the class of New England’s , winner of three Super Bowls.

Soft-spoken but confident, Manning answered yes and backed his assertion by leading the Giants to the Super Bowl despite having to break in a new receiver in  and tight end  during a shortened training camp due to the NFL lockout.

“I’m not surprised by anything he’s done,” said Giants defensive end, one of the heroes along with most valuable player (MVP) Eli in New York’s upset win over the Patriots in the Super Bowl four years ago.

“This is probably his best year as a pro for good reason. He was setting up all those off-season workouts with wide receivers and running backs (at Hoboken High School) during the lockout. He’s worked his butt off to become the quarterback he’s become.”

Manning earned his second Pro Bowl nod after rebounding from last season’s league-leading 25 interceptions by throwing 29 touchdowns and 16 interceptions this season.

Eleven-time Pro Bowler Peyton will lead the cheers for his kid brother at Lucas Oil Stadium and host the Manning clan in his adopted hometown during Super Bowl week.

The siblings, top picks in the 1998 and 2004 NFL Drafts, followed in the footsteps of their father, Archie Manning, who was the second player drafted in 1971 and played quarterback for 13 NFL seasons, mostly with the New Orleans Saints.

Family pressure was another reason defensive captain Tuck was impressed.

“I give a lot of credit considering the shadow that he’s had to play under, being Archie’s son, and Peyton’s little brother and playing in a city like New York where it just seems sometimes you can never do enough,” said Tuck.

After overcoming a fierce San Francisco 49ers pass rush that sacked him six times and hit him on another 14 plays in the National Football Conference title game on Sunday, defensive back  joined in the praise of Manning.

“Eli is the leader of this team, without a doubt,” said Rolle. “Him going out there and doing what he did (shows) what kind of guy he is, his leadership, how much fight he has and how tough he is.”

Eli Manning is the quiet man of the close-knit football family in contrast to the animated leadership of the outgoing Peyton, who became one of TV’s most recognizable pitchmen with 11 Pro Bowl selections with the Colts and his 2007 Super Bowl MVP performance in beating the Chicago Bears.

When he first came to the Giants, Eli was overshadowed by more established and demonstrative players such as running back Tiki Barber and tight end  before winning team mates over with his work ethic and unflappable nature.

In postseason play, the younger Manning has thrived with a 7-3 record compared to a 9-10 mark for 35-year-old Peyton.

Typically, the Giants quarterback sidestepped a question about how another Super Bowl triumph would affect his legacy.

“This is a big game for the Giants organization. This is a big game for every single player who’s going to be playing,” Eli Manning said.

“It’s no bigger for me than Coach Coughlin, than it is for JPP (defensive end Jason Pierre Paul) and Justin Tuck and any other person playing this game.




Since: Jan 1, 2010
Posted on: January 21, 2012 5:34 pm
 

Eli No Longer Simply Peyton’s Brother

 took a couple of quick stabs at how much  has changed since the two came into the NFL as rookies with the  in 2004.

“He’s got some hair on his chin now,” Snee deadpanned, before letting a smile spread across his face. Then he pointed out that Manning was older.

The two-time Pro Bowl guard finally gave up.

“Honestly, the guy has been a cool customer ever since was a rookie in the same huddle as me,” Snee said. “He is not fazed by any situation or rattled. He is the best prepared as any guy I have ever been around.”


There’s also: Super Eli—maybe for a second time.Unflappable Eli. Elite Eli. Take your pick.

Manning and the Giants (11-7) take on the  (14-3) in the NFC title game on Sunday with the winner advancing to Indianapolis for a Super Bowl showdown against either the Patriots or Ravens.

Whatever happens, Manning isn’t going to change. That’s what teammates love about the quarterback who comes from a family of quarterbacks.

There is no ego. Just a desire to work hard and win. Nothing upsets the 30-year-old.

“I don’t think you are supposed to change,” Manning said Friday. “I think the reason I had success whether in high school or in college and some success here in the NFL, is because you don’t change your personality. You don’t change whether you are having success or tough times. You try to work hard and stay confident and support your teammates and be a good teammate, and play the game the way it should be played.”

Manning, who threw for a career-best 4,933 yards and 29 touchdowns this season, is a creature of habit. He shows up every morning at the Giants’ headquarters around 7 a.m., wears the same clothes at most practices and leaves nine hours later after taking almost every snap in practices.

He’s a prankster, too. He loves to take teammates’ phones and change the language to anything other than English.

“He has gotten me plenty of times,” long snapper  said. “I don’t even remember the last language. He just switches it. It took me an hour to figure it out.”

When it comes time to work, Manning doesn’t fool around. He comes in Tuesdays—his day off—to break down the film on the upcoming opponents, while familiarizing himself with the game plan. On Fridays, he holds a meeting with his receivers and shows clips of what they should expect on game days.

“He understands based on coverage where we would like the ball to go,” offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride said. “He’s not going to be overwhelmed by what’s going on. He’s been through it enough times. We’ve had enough success with it that he plays very confidently. I don’t think the situation overwhelms him and I think he has a very profound understanding of what we’re trying to do offensively.”

Manning also knows sometimes things go wrong, which is what happened to an unproven receiver named on the Giants’ third play from scrimmage this season.

Cruz dropped a third-down pass that would have given the Giants a first down, then went to the sideline and sulked.

Manning walked up to him almost immediately and told him to forget about it, that Cruz would make plays for the team.

Cruz has done exactly that—over and over—in setting a single-season team record with 1,536 yards receiving.

“I’m going to remember for a long time,” Cruz said. “It was him trusting in me and believing in me and understanding there were a lot more plays to be made. He is one of those guys who never seems to hone in on something negative.”

Veteran defensive end  said Manning was one of the first people to welcome him to the Giants after they signed him off the ’ practice squad in 2007. The two have become friends and their wives have gotten to know each other.

“He is still the same guy and I think that’s what makes him who he is,” Tollefson said. “This is such an emotional game of highs and lows and it’s like he has this great poker face. He just really absorbs emotionally a lot of information and puts our team in position to win games instead of melting down when it gets too hot. That’s tough man, I couldn’t play quarterback. I have a great arm, but we have a quarterback so I don’t play quarterback.”

Being a quarterback in New York isn’t easy. Linebacker and then-defensive end  was drafted in the first round two years after Manning. One of his first recollections was the quarterback was taking a lot of heat in the media.

“I always say you are never as bad as they say and never as good as they say,” Kiwanuka said. “You have to have your own mindset and you have to have your own understanding of where you fit in. It’s tough, but he handles it very well.”

That’s one of the things that former 49ers quarterback Steve Young admires about Manning. He is his own man.

He is nothing like his brother, Peyton, who is more outgoing and doesn’t hide his emotions on the field.

Young says Eli seems to say that “if it’s going good, that’s good and if it’s going bad, OK.”

“I think that’s maybe the best compliment you can give Eli is that he doesn’t want to be his brother, so he doesn’t want to have everyone saying, oh, he’s just like his brother and I’m saying, it’s just the opposite,” Young said. “He’s become as effective as his brother, but in an Eli way and that might be the best compliment.”

Tackle  has protected Manning since the day the son of Archie joined the Giants.

“He is not a rah-rah guy and just says things to say stuff,” Diehl said. “You can’t fake that. If you do, people see right through you. He always speaks from the heart. We know he is 100 percent prepared to go out there and play great football. He has that cool confidence about him.”

Manning has had his moments of misery in his Giants career, with the worst possibly being a start in his rookie season against Baltimore. He finished 4 of 18 for 27 yards and two interceptions. His quarterback rating was zero, and  and the Ravens toyed with him.

Manning usually walks to the line of scrimmage and will identify the middle linebacker by number: “50 is the mike.”

Diehl has a vivid recollection of what happened when the Giants came to the line in that game.

“They were called out: `No! I’m the mike. No. he’s the mike.’ I have never been in a game in that situation,” Diehl said.

Manning spent the ride home on the train talking to Gilbride about the experience.

“It’s all part of the growth that has taken place,” Gilbride said. “He’s been through so much now and we’ve seen so much that it would take a lot to unnerve him now. That doesn’t mean that people aren’t going to do something that surprises us—people always do things that are a little different than you prepared for. But he has a great grasp of what our concepts are.”

Gilbride said Manning has had other moments of disappointment in his career, but he has done a great job of hiding them from everybody.

Teammates appreciate that.

“With Eli, you get what you get, it is what it is and that’s what attracts guys to want to play for a guy like that,” Tollefson said. “There is no hidden agenda. It’s not about sponsorships. It’s about the NY on the side of his helmet and winning football games and everybody wants to be a part of that.”




Since: Oct 9, 2006
Posted on: January 17, 2012 6:04 pm
 

Eli No Longer Simply Peyton’s Brother

It's interesting to see both of you put Eli above Peyton when ranking quarterbacks.  Is this contingent upon Eli winning a second ring and having more than Peyton (1)? And while we all agree that Peyton has the edge in statistics, if Peyton is done, which is in the realm of possibility, Eli could definitely pad his overall numbers by the time he retires and have comparable numbers by the time he retires.  Eli just turned 31, and is the currently the active leader in consecutive games played.  He is an ironman much like his brother and it appears he is blossoming before our eyes.  If Eli averages 4,000 yards and roughly 27-30 TD's, his numbers will be on par with Peyton, and a second ring would make the argument all the more compelling.  Just food for thought.



Since: Jan 26, 2011
Posted on: January 17, 2012 1:07 pm
 

Eli No Longer Simply Peyton’s Brother

You are right on the money with your thoughts about Eli Manning deserving to be placed among the NFL's best quarterbacks. I've been a longtime Eli doubter myself, but I've come to see him as an elite quarterback. The guy has that special knack of making something out of nothing whenever a play looks lost and what he's done this year in that Giants offense with almost no running game is pretty special.

This kid has went into Lambeau Field and knocked off the Green Bay Packers in the playoffs twice with Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers as the opposing quarterbacks and led the Giants to that late game Super Bowl win over the Tom Brady led New England Patriots who were a couple minutes from a perfect season. 

I think Eli has actually passed his brother Peyton in terms of signiture wins and if he's able to get another ring this postseason he will be clearly in front of what Peyton has been able to do in his career. I don't care about the huge statistics, look at the rings and big wins that Eli will have if he completes this postseason run. 



Since: Jan 1, 2010
Posted on: January 16, 2012 5:54 pm
 

Eli No Longer Simply Peyton’s Brother

Little brother has arrived.

The only thing hot about Green Bay's Lambeau Field as Sunday afternoon turned to night was  quarterback Eli Manning,  four flawless quarters in a 37-20 road win over the defending Super Bowl champion Packers. In upsetting the defending champs, he put up some big numbers completing 21 of 33 passes for 330 yards with three touchdowns and an interception. But in advancing to the NFC championship game, Manning made a statement that he is now among the elite quarterbacks of the game.

Suddenly, the New York Giants quarterback deserves to be named in the same company with Tom Brady, Drew Brees and the man he beat on Sunday, Aaron Rodgers, as the greatest of this current generation of quarterbacks. He has now sprung from that second-tier to legit stardom.

In doing so, he has now surpassed brother Peyton Manning in the upper echelon of NFL quarterbacks. The playoffs are Eli's time to shine, where he boasts an all-time mark of 6-3.

"I think it is his mentality. It is his approach. Nobody sees what he does behind the scenes. He is a studier and a pounder. He is looking for every little advantage that he can get. He is just trying to be the best he can be to help this team win," head coach Tom Coughlin said.

"If we could all just remember that and use that. He loves playing against the best competition, but it is just all about doing the best for his team."

A season ago, he was berated by Giants fans for not showing enough emotions on the sidelines during a difficult 10-6 season. Now, it is considered remarkable how he never looks rattled, even as he leads a team that many .

With this playoff run Manning is finally justifying the No. 1 pick in the 2004 NFL draft, when the Giants sent Philip Rivers and a bevy of draft picks to acquire him. The move drew boos then, and raves now as the eighth-year quarterback has emerged as a bonafide star. The Super Bowl run of four years ago was credited to a Giants team and a defense that caught fire at the right time.

One look at the numbers Manning has put up this postseason show in his six touchdowns (with just one interception), a 67.7 completion percentage and a quarterback rating of 121.8 point instantly to one conclusion -- this is truly an elite quarterback.

As eye-poping as those numbers might be, what in part now makes him among the greatest at his position is that it has never really been about anything but the team in his eyes.

"I think we are always confident going into games. Guys understand the way to win football games against good teams. Our defense is playing great with pressure and turnovers," Eli said. "Our offense for the most part is protecting the ball and playing smart football. When we have a chance to make a big play we are making them."

And now, the biggest part of the Giants' "we" is Eli Manning.



The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com