Monday, January 21, 2008

The 2nd to last laugh... 1 laugh to go

Post # 38 Topic: Manning Up

Football was a sport that took me a long time to understand. Growing up, my parents were not into sports and I had no older siblings to teach me how important it was for “your” team to win night in and night out. Its difficult to develop an allegiance to something at such a young age without being constantly exposed to it. Perhaps that explains why my initial sporting interest was in baseball; an extremely complex game to the educated fan but a fairly simple one to the casual observer.

Soon after baseball came basketball: A bunch of guys acting like thugs on the court while trying to get a ball in a hoop within a certain time limit: it was like the Thundercats but with REAL LIVE ACTION… Basketball soon thereafter replaced baseball. I even remember my very 1st basketball game. It was the Knicks vs. the Magic and we were driving into the city from my hometown when my friend’s dad asked, “does anyone know who we’re going to see tonite”, of course the obvious answer was Shaq. It was 1994 and Shaq’s 2nd year in the bigs, and although the Knicks would make a storied run to the finals that year, I was PUMPED UP to see the Magic. Fortunately and wisely, I had spent my entire weekly allowance on basketball cards for the past several months and knew that Anfarnee Hardaway, a SG from Memphis nicknamed Penny was the 2 of the brand new 1-2 Orlando punch (acquired on draft day in exchange for Chris Webber… imagine Webber and Shaq in their prime on the same team… Scary!!!). Of course I later became a Nets fan, and right in time to see the end of Drazen Petrovic’s career while cheering on the all ABA team of Rick Mahorn, Armon Gilliam and Dwayne Schintzius (spelling)? – D.C. and Kenny Anderson were also on that team.

But I was a smart young lad and basketball wasn’t quenching my thirst for an academic game. I needed something that reflected poetry in motion, something that was smooth and calculated whilst also being vicious and intense. It was at that point that I began to develop my passion for hockey. (yes the Rangers suck and yes they lost two games in a row to Boston… another post for another day).

These three sports made up the majority of my youth TV time. While other kids were watching football on Sundays I was at Hebrew School working on getting expelled (which took nearly five years of laborious dedication – and no that does not mean that I am a Jew). In fact, it wasn’t until college that I actually began to take notice of Football (See earlier blog posting). That year (2001), Syracuse was competing for the national championship until the very end of the season. Living across the street from the Carrier dome was conducive to developing an interest in the game, which could only be increased by joining a fraternity where talking about football is the best excuse to spend a Sunday downing Keystone lights (or ices depending on who bought), only to be capped off by an abusive amount o 25 cent wings and other extracurricular activities.

Being a sports fan helped me pick up the ins and outs of football relatively quickly. Also, the constant play stoppages enabled me to ask a lot of questions regarding, “what the hell just happened”, and slowly but surely my knowledge increased. Supplemented by some ESPN the Magazine, a little Around the Horn and even some Mike and the Mad Dog, I became a football fan. But I was a football resident without a home, a teacher without a ruler, a dog without a bone… While all my friends grew up cheering for this team or that, I had no team, and nowhere to focus my energy.

Amazingly, to this day I have no such allegiance. I’ve lived with people from California, Boston, New York, Florida, Texas and Maryland amongst other locales. Never have I ever been sufficiently intrigued by any of these friends’ interest in their team to hop on the proverbial bandwagon.

Being from NY, the obvious choice would be to suddenly declare myself a Giants fan, however this is one perversion for which you will never find me guilty (at least not as a question of law… perhaps as a question of fact). In fact, I think witnessing the Patriots go undefeated would be pretty remarkable given the rarity with which such feats occur. However, while I acknowledge the greatness that is the team from OUTSIDE BOSTON…, I also must acknowledge the going ons taking place on what will be the alternate side of the pigskin come 13 Sundays from now (or so it seems); the coming out party of Eli Manning. Yes ladies and gentleman, Eli Manning is gay and I’m the first to report it (this was a chain puller and nothing more).

Four years ago when the Giants traded Philip Rivers and what eventually turned into Sean Merriman to the Chargers for Eli, the NFL extended an invitation to ELI to join the “Elite Party” being hosted by his more famous brother, Peyton.

Eli must have been very uncertain as to whether or not he wanted to attend, spending time behind Kurt Warner and raising some questions as to whether Tim Hassleback would be a more appropriate starter (effective exaggeration). But finally Eli has decided to RSVP, and from what I can understand through that annoying southern drawl, Eli will be attending the NFL elite party for many years to come.

In case you haven’t been watching, ELI HAS LOOKED PRETTY DAMN GOOD IN THE PLAYOFFS. Yesterday Tom Brady tossed 3 picks, while Philip Rivers and Brett Farve each hucked two. Eli threw none! The week before against the ‘Boys, Tony Romo threw only 1 pick… ELI: Eli threw none. Against the Bucs? Jeff Garcia 2, Eli Manning 0. Not impressed by his IMMACULATE TD to INTERCEPTION ratio? First off I don’t believe you! A majority of the harsh criticism Eli has taken over the years has been founded on his unwise 4th quarter passing. This playoffs Eli has been a beast in the 4th quarter.

Still not impressed? Take a look at some other passing categories. 1st in completions, 2nd in attempts, 2nd in yards, 2nd in touchdowns, 1st in interceptions and 2nd in QB rating. Pretty impressive given some of the other names he has been competing against. Even more impressive given how much heat Eli has taken throughout the season. What’s even more impressive is that Eli EVEN CRACKED A SMILE this past Sunday… perhaps he knew that Green Bay recently opened a Waffle Haus.

Am I asking the world to inaugurate Eli as the 2nd coming of Peyton? NO! Hardly! Peyton Manning is a special quarterback with special talents and special vision. Eli is a talented quarterback with good pedigree and a solid skill set… the difference in adjectives reflects the difference in the value of one brother vs. the other.

What I am asking is for an immediate apology from every sports analyst who declared Eli a bust as recently as 4 weeks ago – you guys have been bashing Eli relentlessly for weeks. Nothing to talk about? Bash Eli. Peyton got a win? Bash Eli Tony’s nailing Jessica Simpson? Who’s Eli hooking up with? The trend has been fierce and predictable; despite a decent 10-6 record in a competitive NFC east, Eli gets less love than _________ (insert misfortuned person here).

One unnamed (because I forgot who said it) ESPN analyst categorized all the young quarterbacks in the NFL by potential; Eli was rated last below JASON CAMPBELL, TAVARIS JACKSON and RYAN LEAF… Well not Ryan Leaf but seriously… these other two guys haven’t done a thing, and given Todd Collins late season heroics we can even argue that NEITHER has made it to the playoffs. If I recall correctly, this year was not Eli’s first playoff run… merely his 1st successful one. Must we remember how long it took Peyton’s Colts to get to the Playoffs… and then how long it took for them to actually win a game? The simple answer is far far longer than it took Eli.

So it is right here on DCMSG that I demand a retraction from every person (YES PERSON) who ever accused Eli of being soft, throwing off his back-foot, making bad decisions, being a grouch and being a bad leader (Oh man do I love how stupid Tiki Barber looks now. He retires, runs his mouth for a season only to have his former team make the Super Bowl).

Looking at Plaxico Burress, a guy nearly exiled from the Steelers for his bad attitude, yesterday after the game summed up just what everyone should think of Eli. Eli took a team into -20 degree temperatures and beat a team that skinny-dips in those temperatures to cool off. Eli Manning is a quarterback with the potential to take a decent team facing extenuating injuries all the way to the Super Bowl, through two teams widely considered to be amongst the top 5 in all of football. If that doesn’t earn Eli some credit then he might as well throw in the towel on the next of his Patriotic challenges.

So, although I expect the Pats to win and would honor the opportunity to witness a “perfect season”, I will all the while be cheering for Eli, hoping that his final performance of 07-08 season solidifies his recognition, regardless of what his stats may tell you as one of the steadiest, headiest (sorry I had to) most reliable quarterbacks in the NFL.

Other Notes

Rumplestiltskin used to turn straw into gold on VHS… imagine what that little bastard could do in hi-definition.

What happens in New Orleans… stays in Vegas.

I’ll take molestation for 100 Alex. Burt Reynolds, that is The Mole Station, not MOLESTATION you freaking idiot.

The best part about taking a break from the new video game “Rock Band” is that when you pick up the controllers again you can say “We’re getting the band back together”.

R.I.P. Bobby Fischer. Bobby Fishcer, where is he? I dunno. I dunno.

No comments: