I don't have a lot of time to post today, seeing how my forth coming huge breakfast of pancakes and bacon isn't going to eat itself and then I have a birthday party to go to (and god forbid I actually write these early). But I am going to address my feelings on a player I have come around on after many years: Eli Manning.
I have always rooted for Eli; I am a younger brother myself and I know what it is like to try and live up to your older sibling. I always wanted to see him succeed. But his progress as a player was maddening. He would look brilliant one game and like he had never seen a football before in another. Even when he won the first Super Bowl, it was more because of the defense and blind luck than any extraordinary skill on his part.
Ahhhhhh, but the key word in that last sentence is "first" - it is easy to luck your way into one Super Bowl, but two? That is highly unlikely (Jim Plunkett not withstanding). Eli has become one of those players that makes every one around him better. His calm demeanor makes everyone else around him relax. And Eli is at his best when the stakes are highest, which is a trait shared by some of the truly great quarterbacks of all time (Joe Montana, Bart Starr).
Any lingering doubts anyone could have had about Eli and his skill and his place on the team and even his place in the pecking order of quarterbacks should have been put to rest on Thursday. Without a starting RB and missing his 1st WR, he dismantled the Panthers. He made Ramses Barden(!) look great. Barden has been buried on the depth chart for 3 years, and when his time came, he made the most of it and Eli made him believe. And now I believe, completely. Eli has gone from being ridiculed by his veteran teammates to having his teammates ready to run through walls for him. Eli is no longer compared to Peyton. Eli is his own man with his own skill set and what is quickly developing into a Hall of Fame resume. I don't know if he is the best quarterback in the league (Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, Tom Brady) and I don't know if he ever will be. I don't think that matters. I was wrong about Eli Manning, heck, most of us were. His personality is "aw, shucks" and his body language is almost comatose, but on the field, he is a stone cold killer and best of all, a winner.