How readers feel about the plight of Eli Manning
Posted: Tuesday December 4, 2007 2:27PM; Updated: Tuesday December 11, 2007 2:10PM
Last week's whitepaper on the trials and tribulations of Eli Manning resulted in sacks (no pun intended) of reader mail. Before we get to your most pithy treatises, I'd like to say that in the wake of last Sunday's out-of-the-pine-box comeback win over Chicago, I suspect that the kid's career is going to be a whole lotta fun to watch ... as long as you don't mind Wallace & Gromit-style football.
With the right coaching and personnel around him, Eli can be a winner -- just not likely a pretty one. And you have to concede this much: his Alfred E. Neuman "What, Me Worry?" demeanor is a blessing. No matter how badly things go, how ineptly he plays, or how many pots of tar and bags of feathers await him in the stands and media, he never gives up. Football is a fire-in-the-eyes sport, so folks tend to prefer hot coals under their QB's helmet, but heat is well and good as long as it's properly channeled into productive action. Glacial calm is not always a sign of disinterest, and as I've stated, Eli's even-keeled nature (even when his keel is pointing straight up) will likely be what enables him to weather the frequent New York criticism storms and have a solid career.
And now, your take on the man, the mystery, and the misery:
I was reading this week's SI, and on page 19 I came upon an ad featuring Eli "Unstoppable" Manning promoting the Citizen Eco-Drive Skyhawk A-T Flight Chronograph watch. Have you looked at this watch? It has two time dials; a digital city locator; a digital calendar and stopwatch; a compass; a barometer; two alarms; a calorie counter; it's radio-controlled and needs no battery. NO WONDER ELI IS SO CONFUSED! I say, simplify his world. No more "hot reads." No more flapping his arms at the line of scrimmage like a startled seagull looking for garbage on Jones Beach. And no more Citizen Eco-Drive Skyhawk A-T Flight Chronograph! Give the dude a wind-up Mickey Mouse watch and let him play!
Ah, the mystery revealed at last. Perhaps Giants fans -- and I include myself among them -- can take a smidgen of comfort in the awareness that their quarterback at least knows what time it is in Hong Kong as the play clock expires in front of him.
Do you recall when Eli was drafted as the No. 1 overall pick by San Diego? Eli grudingly put the Chargers cap on his head, with a pout. Apparently, he, his dad and brother believed that San Diego wasn't good enough for him, and that New York was the place for him. I don't think he would have seen 1/10th the pressure if he'd gone to San Diego. Do you agree?
Yep. Quite a few readers felt that Eli is only reaping his just Karmic dessert: a nice thick slice of humble pie. While Eli ain't the first, and surely won't be the last, top draft pick to refuse to play for the iffy team that selects him, I do think he would be under ordinary fire right about now if he'd signed with San Diego and was at the controls of Norv Turner's latest maddening squad.
I really do feel bad for Eli -- he'd been playing pretty solid football up until that game against Minnesota. And let's be fair: bad days DO happen. His game against the Vikings was practically a mirror image of Peyton's game against the Chargers. And nobody's hurrying to dethrone Peyton (nor should they be -- best QB in NFL history, by the time all is said and done). The Giants are basically perennial playoff contenders. It's a luxury most NFL fans don't have, and Giants fans would do well to remember that.
A word to the wise, indeed.
The real problem with Eli Manning is simple: Kevin Gilbride. He is a quarterback-killer. When I lived in Southern California, I watched him drive Stan Humphries into early retirement and ruin Ryan Leaf. The only QB he has had success with is Mark Brunell -- a devout Christian who probably figured Gilbride was just a test he had to face.
I have to say that the actual ability to ruin Ryan Leaf would qualify a man's photo for inclusion in the Encyclopedia Britannica under the entry "killer's touch." Indeed, Gilbride was the Giants' QB coach during Eli's first three seasons, but he's the offensive coordinator, in a manner of speaking, now. Thus, he'll only be partly responsible for Manning's demise. Chris Palmer is the gentleman entrusted with getting the young QB's oft-cited mechanics straightened out. That propensity for throwing off his back foot (Eli's back foot, not Palmer's) and forcing the pigsking into the twitching, waiting hands of the opposing defense is proving a tough nut to crack.