Beyond the Bison: Eli(te)…Elite?

By Julian Dorey

Columnist

I hate the Giants.

I don’t like anything about them. I don’t like their stupid, plain blue uniforms. I don’t like their stadium. I don’t like their fans, and I most certainly don’t like their players.

But I’m a realist. That’s why even I can say the New York Giants deserve all the credit in the world. They played best when they needed to and fully earned another Super Bowl title. Simple as that.

Above all, though, Eli Manning proved that he is good. No, he proved that he’s great. It pains me deeply to give the third Manning any credit—let alone this kind—but we’ll see him in Canton when it’s all said and done. Eli put a team of unheard-ofs on his back and carried them all season.

Somehow, they ended up 9-7 in the regular season. Somehow, he really got them going in December. Somehow, they beat the Patriots for all the marbles—again.

It makes me feel sick, but the guy is officially one of the greats. He might not necessarily have staggering career numbers, but he has made some of the biggest plays in the biggest games he’s played in. His accuracy down the field has even developed into one of the most enviable weapons in the game.

It doesn’t feel right. I just never have thought of Eli as elite. But he is.

I’m not going to sit here and say that he’s as good as his brother. (In football, measuring QBs by their number of championships can be a little misleading.) He’s not. But who knows? If he can continue to deliver in the biggest of spotlights for the next several years, maybe we will have that conversation.

Maybe the quiet kid from the South who had to live in the long and dark shadows of his family for so long always had a fire in him. Maybe he was just quiet to hide the beast that he wanted to unleash. It’s hard for me to believe, but he has done it twice now.

Two times, he has culminated an unexpected run—both times after making the playoffs after the last game of the respective season—going toe-to-toe with one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time.

And both times, he won.

Eli, I will never look at your empty face with as much as a smile. But, for the moment, my hat is begrudgingly off. You’ve played with the best. And you’ve won.

 

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