Bumbling Eli Manning is being blitzed by hysteria
Posted: Tuesday November 27, 2007 2:33PM; Updated: Wednesday November 28, 2007 1:33PM
Part Dave Brown, part Charlie Brown.
That appraisal, by an anguished friend of mine, is among the kinder things that are being said about Eli Manning in the wake of the Giants' 41-17 loss to the Vikings that was apparently a dramatic reenactment of the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.
Not improving. Does not inspire confidence. Not a commanding presence. Should take a DNA test to prove he's related to Peyton.
These are just a few of the unflattering comments that are flooding fan boards, sports talk shows and local newspapers about the fourth-year quarterback of a 7-4 squad that still holds a wild card in its greasy fingers although there always seems to be a banana peel and open manhole in the Giants' path at this time of year.
Poor Eli. He's being blitzed by the perfect storm of high expectation: classic bloodlines, demanding market, and even more demanding position. What really curries the goat of his growing legion of detractors is that he has the emotional temperament of a Russet potato. Eli can throw four picks and become the first QB since the Reagan Administration to have three of them returned for scores -- by the NFL's worst pass defense yet --and the most he will say is. "Anything you do, you have bad days."
Actually, Eli's Mister Rogers demeanor may well be what enables him to survive and even thrive in this cauldron of hysteria, much the way that old cow Joe Torre endured 12 years in the Yankees hotbox. And as wretched as Sunday's outing was, Eli was not the only Giant frantically slicing limburger cheese out there. The defense coughed up a long TD pass on Minnesota's first drive and tackled as if the Vikings had leprosy, the offensive line leaked horned invaders, and passes skittered off the outstretched skillets of receivers. Need we mention that coach Tom Coughlin admitted that he did a horse apple job of preparing his boys for the contest?
No question, Eli's progress has been in frustrating fits and starts, and there's no denying he's mastered losing big games in the time-honored Giants Way that is straight out of the playbooks of Mr. Bean, Frank Drebin and Curly Howard. It's a false-start/delay of game/botched snap/whiffed punt/bonehead penalty/missed tackle/catastrophic collapse style that stretches back to fumblin' Joe Pisarcik in 1978 and beyond. It's just something in the big blue water that defies changes of QB, coach and GM. The Arizona Cardinals have something similar going on out there in Phoenix.
Hoodoo aside, and in all fairness, let us ponder how many brothers have succeeded in towering over a major pro sport they both played, let alone at the same marquee position. Paul and Lloyd Waner are in the Baseball Hall of Fame. The hockey hall contains Maurice and Henri Richard, Phil and Tony Esposito, Max and Doug Bentley, and the Conacher trifecta (Lionel, Charlie and Roy). That's about it.