"Manning Up" for the QB
For all those opposed, don't worry; your guy will get his.
And his contract will be bigger than Eli's (having Eli to thank for it).
Let's get one thing straight right now... Eli Manning is by no stretch of the imagination as talented, battle tested or proven as his older brother (even though he'll be paying the dinner checks from now on) or Tom Brady. He lacks the raw tools and athleticism of Drew Brees. Many will argue he's not as gutsy, talented or tough as Ben Roethlisberger, Donovan McNabb or Tony Romo either.
Here's my take on six years and $97 million: He's worth every penny. Why?
1. Because he's managed to avoid flipping over his motorcycle handlebars and crashing head-first into a windshield. He's also avoided getting wrapped up in a rape accusation. Perhaps luck plays a big part in that. I'll take someone who makes their own good luck.
2. Because his face appears in 'Oreo League' Ads, Toyota & Reebok commercials, as well as fundraising campaigns for The Boys & Girls Clubs of America, Phoenix House, The Red Cross and his own cause - The Eli Manning Children’s Clinics. And because he doesn't appear on the covers of Star Magazine, People, OK, US and The National Enquirer - or as a weekly stunt on TMZ.com - about how he's dumping 'this' pop-star girlfriend for 'that' actress girlfriend or 'the other' who's-that-girl girlfriend.
3. Because he has yet to openly display contempt for teammates or his coaching staff - regardless of whether he's agreed with them or not. He's never once complained about the lack of having a legitimate "number one" reciever (since the only one he's ever had has either been less than 100% healthy, serving a suspension or in bed recovering from self-inflicted gunshot wounds).
4. Because he has arguably put up with more scrutiny and criticism than any other QB in the NFL today without being able to use age, racial discrimination or injuries as a "crutch" - and as much by his own fan base than that of the rest of the league, despite popular belief. On the contrary; the last name 'Manning' has been nothing more than a mountain this guy has had to climb since the day he was drafted.
And Every one of the other Quarterbacks mentioned above - talented and deserving, one and all - will eventually sign bigger and better contracts than the one Eli just signed. Sans McNabb perhaps; unfortunately for Donovan, father time might have something to say about that.
And when that comes to pass - for most in the NFL universe - the stars will once again be aligned as they should be. "Shoot - if he's making that much? You just know I gotta be worth THIS much..."
For now, the Giants Organization will simply enjoy the eclipse. And try not to look directly into the balance sheets.
By the way - here's the other 6 reasons he's worth every penny:
5. January 2nd, 2004 - Giants 28, Dallas 24.
With Big Blue down 24-21 with just 11 seconds left in the game, Rookie QB Eli Manning comes to the line and looks at the Dallas defensive alignment. He pulls up from under center and audibles. In subsequent press conferences, coach Tom Coughlin will admit that a pass play had been called for - which Dallas must have anticipated. Instead, Eli hands off to Tiki Barber, who scampers three yards up the middle for a touchdown.
6. October 23rd, 2005 - Giants 24, Broncos 23.
Manning's first monsterous regular-season comeback victory. For the second week in a row - and the third time in the 13 starts in his career - Manning engineers a victory out of the jaws of defeat on the final drive of the game. With the Giants losing by 13 with 12 minutes left in the game, Eli spearheads - not one - but two touchdown drives, and Big Blue pulls out the improbably victory at the Meadowlands on an Amani Toomer game-winning score with 5 ticks left in the 4th quarter.
7. September 17th, 2006 – Giants 30, Eagles 24.
This was a huge 4th quarter performance for #10. Down 24-7 at the start of the fourth quarter, Manning engineers his biggest rally - and has the best statistical game of his career (31 for 45, 371 yards, three TDs) - to tie the game with a field goal drive in the final seconds. A 31-yard pass to Plaxico Burress late in overtime sealed the victory - with two Eagles defenders bearing down on him and knocking him flat on his back just as he released the ball.
8. December 2nd, 2007 – Giants 21, Bears 16.
With their season slipping away, the Giants trailed 16-7 before scoring twice in the final 6:54. Manning shakes off three awful quarters of football by throwing a 6-yard touchdown pass to Amani Toomer to cap a 75-yard drive and close the gap to 16-14. After a Bears punt, Manning executed a 77-yard drive - including a 24-yard pass to David Tyree and a 15-yarder to Plaxico Burress that put the ball on the 2 - which culminated in a Droughns TD run with 1:33 remaining.
9. January 13th, 2008 – Giants 21, Cowboys 17.
This technically was a fourth-quarter comeback, but not really. No matter, as Manning connected on two TD passes to Amani Toomer, and steered an early 4th quarter scoring drive that proved to be the game winner (trailing 17-14, Brandon Jacobs’ stumbled into the end zone on a 1-yard touchdown run just over 2 minutes into the fourth quarter). Manning’s best moment was the touchdown drive in the final seconds of the first half. All of a sudden, Tony Romo went from being the next great QB of the NFL to a great big question mark; Vacations with girlfriends and sobbing wide receivers aside, Eli Manning played well enough to leave his cleat marks on the backside of the Dallas Organization - which would have been the most any Giants fan could have hoped for coming into the 2007 season. That is, until...
10. February 3rd, 2008 – Giants 17, Patriots 14.
Down 14-10 with 2:39 to go against the 18-0 New England Patriots - with NFL immortality on the line and all the decks stacked against him - Eli Manning took over on his own 17-yard line…
"OK Eli... tell me right now. What did you do with your brother's contract?"