View from a Packers fan about the premature ending of their season
RYAN FLYNN — General Assignment Reporter
I’ll say it up front: I don’t like Eli Manning. I don’t like that dazed look that he wears in both 20-point wins and 30-point losses. I don’t like his brash and cocky teammates. I don’t like Tom Coughlin either, his coaching style, his bland press conferences or the way that his face turns an unhealthy formula red in games when the temperature drops below 20 degrees. (Actually, that last one really entertains me). The point is, I don’t like the Giants. To say that I hate a bunch of people who I’ve never met would be going too far. But, I dislike them.
I really, really, really, dislike them.
Is there begrudging respect? No, not really. Eli Manning has put together a season closely mirroring big brother Peyton’s stats the past few years (29 TD, 16 INT, 4,933 yards, 92.9 passer rating), though still nowhere near Peyton’s peak seasons. Still, since the Jets game and especially in the playoffs, even I can’t dispute that Eli has been impressive. And most of it, I believe, lies with him finally finding what I thought he never could—that being, the elusive ‘chip on the shoulder.’
Most every transcendent athlete has it. The chip, which in pretty much every case, originates from a slight of some sort. Maybe they got drafted too late, like Tom Brady or Jerry Rice. Maybe they were spurned by their former team and replaced, like Drew Brees. Or maybe, after not being offered a single D-1 scholarship and only getting to Cal after playing junior college ball, they were passed up in the draft by their hometown team and had their early career hijacked by a selfish legend (Yeah, that one is Aaron Rodgers). Peyton Manning is the outlier here, in that he was only transcendent by way of being consistently excellent. He never seemed to want to rip your throat out the way that Michael Jordan or Tom Brady did. I always saw Eli as being wired the same way.
That is, until now. Eli let us know early that this was going to be a different year, by calling himself elite and comparing himself to Tom Brady. Whether he is or isn’t elite isn’t what matters here.
Spoiler alert: he’s not-but rather that he believes himself to be elite.
Eli is finally addressing the talking heads all over sports who, despite a Super Bowl MVP, still see Eli as not much more than Peyton’s baby brother.
So, after squeaking into the playoffs with an 9-7 record in vintage Giants style, Eli and his team took on the old persona. The chip on the shoulder was in full effect, and when a team takes on that us-against-the-world mentality, they can do amazing things. Just look at the ’99 Rams, the ’01 Pats, the ’08 Cardinals and of course, your ’07 G-Men. This is a team that is built the right way for where the NFL is going (good passing attack, elite pass rush) and, at least for this playoff run, playing with the chip. Whether this formula results in another Superbowl win remains to be seen. Call me bitter, but despite all this, I’ll still be rooting for the Patriots come Superbowl Sunday.
You can’t spell elite without E-L-I. But, you can’t spell eliminated either.