Manning needs to channel anger over character attacks to the football field
If there’s anyone in the NFL who has perfected the art of deadpanning, it’s New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning. Never one to show his emotions, regardless if he suffers a brutal hit or throws the pass of a lifetime as he did twice in Super Bowl wins over the New England Patriots, Manning has been robotic almost to a fault regardless of the circumstances.
Until Thursday, when the 36-year-old quarterback came out to meet a throng of reporters who circled around him five rings deep, ready to drill him regarding allegations that he cheated memorabilia collectors out of game-worn merchandise.
Before the first question could even be asked, a very visibly upset Manning was ready with a statement that, while not exactly scripted, was delivered with such emotion and anger that at times Manning stumbled over his words.
“I will say that I’ve never done what I’ve been accused of doing. I have no reason nor have I ever had any reason to do something of that nature. I’ve done nothing wrong and I have nothing to hide. I know when this is all done, everyone will see that the same way.”
When asked if he was particularly angry about the character assignation leveled against him, Manning said, “Definitely. It is one thing to write about my football or my play— when you are attacking my integrity, it definitely makes me angry.
“I think my track record of how I’ve handled myself since I’ve been here in New York, since 2004, speaks for itself. I’ve tried to do everything with class and be a stand-up citizen, and that is what I have done and that is being attacked right now. ”
The emotion showed by Manning reminded one of how Tom Brady, the Patriots quarterback that Manning and the Giants have schooled twice in two of the most memorable and exciting Super Bowl games in history, reacted when his character was attacked over the alleged deflating of footballs in the 2014 AFC Championship game.
Although there was never any concrete evidence pointing to Brady’s guilt in any alleged attempts to alter the footballs, 11 of which were found by the league to be under-inflated, on that blustery cold day, the NFL still found him and the Patriots guilty, suspending Brady four games for having violated the integrity of the game.
Brady, ever so defiant, ultimately accepted the four-game suspension after a back and forth to have it overturned. He also vehemently denied any wrongdoing, saying, “I would never do anything to break the rules.”
When Brady returned from his four-game suspension last year, he played lights out—yes even about the usual lights out level for him. Brady and the Patriots finished with a 14-2 record, crushing anyone in their path all the way to their fifth Super Bowl championship last February in Houston.
While Brady and the Patriots were rolling, Manning and the Giants offense were reeling. Playing behind a suspect offensive line, Manning often looked more like a rookie quarterback than a savvy veteran capable of loading the team on his shoulders and carrying them to victory.
He made mistakes that were uncharacteristic of him. He also looked squeamish behind an offensive line that had more holes than Swiss cheese, a development that saw him try to force more passes than he had in the past two seasons to make something—anything—happen for the better.
The Giants, who finished 11-5 last year and who made their first postseason playoff berth since 2011, did so more thanks to the strength of the league’s 10th-best defense than the 25th-best offense which lacked a running game, which got minimal production from its tight ends and whose passing game had to settle for short, underneath throws thanks to the quarterback not having time to let things develop.
If the Giants are to win their own fifth Super Bowl victory, they must start by winning their division, something they haven’t done since 2011 when they won the NFC East with a 9-7 record.
They can start by having Manning, will have his day in play with more of what head coach Ben McAdoo likes to call a “salty attitude” when he[‘s on the field, taking that pent-up anger over having his character questioned and parlaying that into destroying anything and anyone who dares to get in the Giants’ path for a championship.
The lawsuit against Manning and the Giants is scheduled to be heard in court on September 25.