The Big Easy

Eli Manning The Big Easy

The Low-Key Star QB is the NFL Embodiment of Cognitive Dissonance

The Redskins and the Cowboys are surging in the NFC East, and Peyton has come back from oblivion to fashion one of his typically flawless campaigns in Denver, but analysts are mapping ways the Giants could miss the playoffs entirely. In other words, Eli Manning has ’em all right where he wants ’em. Life just feels better when it’s played like an endless two-minute drill.

Call him a handhog hero, a sad-sack Superman, kid brother to a legend—but would you bet against Eli Manning when it’s all on the line in February? The MVP of two Super Bowls, a scion of football’s first family and the ultimate gamer, S.L. Price writes that the Giants’ quarterback, who plays with an air of simplicity and calm, has forced us to rethink what we expect in a star. “Every day the fans call in and ask, ‘What the hell’s the matter with Eli?’” says Boomer Esiason, talk-show host on New York’s WFAN radio station and former Jets QB. “And I say, ‘There’s nothing the matter with Eli. That’s who he is.’ He’s better suited for this than any of us idiots are” (page 37).

More excerpts from this story:

“Every day the fans call in and ask, ‘What the hell’s the matter with Eli?’ And I say, ‘There’s nothing the matter with Eli. That’s who he is.’ He’s better suited for this than any of us idiots are.” –Boomer Esiason

“You ever go some place and have a burger, and don’t know why that place’s burger is so much better than the others’? It’s a hamburger at the end of the day, but this one’s just better. That’s Eli.” –Giants TE Martellus Bennett on his teammate’s simple but effective style of play

On Manning’s post-game press conference comments after breaking Phil Simms’ franchise TD record, just weeks after Simms said he didn’t think Manning was an elite quarterback: “Into the mike he called it ‘an honor’ and left it at that. But he had to fight himself. This was a piñata just begging to be whacked. Manning even had a zinger prepared: ‘Well, I don’t know if Phil Simms was an elite quarterback anyway, so I don’t know if it’s that big of a deal.’ Instead he held his tongue.”

“If Peyton wasn’t a football player, I can assure you he would be the CEO of some company and be super successful. He wants it. It’s important to him. It is who he is. Failing is not an option—or not trying, at least,” says oldest brother Cooper Manning. And Eli? Cooper shakes his head. “I have no idea what he would be doing.”

“Dad? You know, your numbers weren’t very good.” –What Eli Manning told his father after he studied up on Archie’s career at Ole Miss

“Golf trips, you don’t want to go to sleep before Eli…The one thing Peyton and Eli have on ’em is a Sharpie–and you can’t get that stuff off. He’ll do somebody’s face, and you get up the next morning to play golf, go to breakfast? Or you’re out, and he’ll do your calves, all colors. You can’t get it off!” –Archie Manning on Eli’s passion for playing pranks

“In high school [Peyton] would come back when I was in spring practice and make my dad film my drops, and we’d watch it that night. He’d tell me, ‘This is what we’re learning at Tennessee: On your three-step, make that second step real short and quick to get the ball out.’ When I was in college and he was in the NFL, he’d come to spring football and watch our practices and we’d do drills. He wanted me to have success. Everything he learned, he wanted to come back and teach me.” –Eli on Peyton’s willingness to share football knowledge with his younger brother


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