ELI MANNING – SAM BORDEN’S PORTRAIT OF TOUGH ENDURANCE UNDER PRESSURE IN FOOTBALL
[photograph - Eli Manning by Doug Mills of the New York Times].
Sam Borden writes from Indianapolis for the New York Times painting a picture of Eli Manning‘s long road of endurance under pressure, before making the Super Bowl final for the New York Giants. Writes Sam:
“INDIANAPOLIS — When Eli Manning was about 3 years old, he tumbled down the stairs of the Manning family house. His older brothers, Cooper and Peyton, watched as little Eli went head over heels and ended up at their feet.
Cooper recalls, “Eli just sort of got up, looked around for a minute and ran off to play. He didn’t cry at all. It was,” he said, “without a doubt the toughest thing I’ve ever seen.”
Until recently that word — tough — was not often associated with the older Eli Manning, the one who is the Giants quarterback. Running backs were tough. Linemen were tough. Big, burly quarterbacks who hobbled around on damaged ankles like Ben Roethlisberger were tough. Manning was not. Or so, at least, it seemed.
Yet, as the Giants weaved through this inconsistent season of failure and well-timed flourishing, Manning displayed a personal grit that most Giants fans had not necessarily seen before, replaced by a steely determination from Manning that carried the Giants to this lofty perch: set to face the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl on Sunday.
Manning’s performance against the San Francisco 49ers two weeks ago in the N.F.C. championship game was the most recent example, and maybe the most emblematic. With the soggy Candlestick Park turf making for treacherous footing, the Giants’ offensive line struggled to protect Manning.
He was crushed, over and over, with the 49ers recording 18 hits on Manning, including 6 sacks. Several hits were from the blindside, the type of brutal collision in which the quarterback prepares to throw and suddenly his body is folded, like a piece of origami, as a defender blasts him from behind. Those hits can often be the most violent and “some of those shots, you even cringe,” center David Baas said.”
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“Running back Brandon Jacobs, who has been on the Giants for seven of Manning’s eight seasons, said, “Some quarterbacks, you hit them and you rattle them,” Jacobs said. “Eli is stronger than that.””
–Carl Nelson and Bill Pennington also wrote this report.
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