by Kristian Garic, Kristian@wwl.com,posted Feb 2 2012 11:36AM
When you think of elite quarterbacks in the NFL before this season, I'm not so sure Eli Manning's name would have come up in that conversation. Now? He definitely deserves the accolades after leading the New York Giants to their second Super Bowl appearance in four seasons. Manning's slow, steady, calming personality is the perfect fit in a media market that feasts on their pro sports figures. Eli says he is not concerned about his legacy at this point in his career. "I'm just worried about this game and trying to win against the Patriots, all that other stuff will come later," Manning said.
The younger brother of Colts QB (at least for now) Peyton Manning, he's always been overshadowed. Not this year! His brother sat out of the 2011 season with a neck injury and Eli thrived. "It's no coincidence Manning had his best season with his brother on the sideline. He probably felt compelled to prove himself and play that much better because of his brother being out," Pro Football Hall of Fame tight end Shannon Sharpe said of Eli Manning.
Not only is Eli among the best in the league, you can make the argument he might be the best in his family. One thing I've noticed about all the great quarterbacks has been the routine. They all speak about how important it is to get into a solid routine on game week. "I'm glad it's Wednesday and we're back at practice, and you just have to remove the distractions and make sure you are focused on the right things," Manning said.
Look at the road Eli took this postseason. He nearly shut out the Falcons in New York. He went to Lambeau field and knocked off the 15-1 reigning Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers. Then the Giants and Manning outslugged the feisty 49ers in the NFC title game in San Francisco. Let's go back to the 2007 Super Bowl championship run for the G-Men and Manning. That postseason the Giants beat Brett Favre and the Green Bay Packers on the road in the NFC Championship game, and they beat the previously undefeated New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLII.
Wow! Now if that's not an impressive resume, I don't know what is. Eli has five road playoff victories in his career. That's an NFL record. Manning saves his biggest performances for the biggest of games. That's where championship quarterbacks are measured - in games with high stakes. Sure Aaron Rodgers might have a bigger arm, Tom Brady might have the competitive fire that you look for, and Drew Brees has the accuracy you want in a franchise quarterback... Eli Manning has the cool, collected confidence that it takes to play in New York.