NFL Player Profile: Eli Manning

Eli ManningGrowing up in the shadow of a famous father can be overwhelming for a child, and the challenge of following the footsteps of an older sibling can also be harmful for a kid’s ego. Then, there is Eli Manning’s childhood; his father (Archie Manning) was a football hero in the Deep South and his brother (Peyton Manning) is the advertising face of the NFL with countless commercials. And all he does is become the MVP of Super Bowl XLII, in which he led the New York Giants to an upset victory over the previous undefeated New England Patriots.

While having a successful senior year as a high school football player, Manning was still undecided on which university to attend in the fall. That changed after receiving a call from David Cutcliffe. The Manning family was familiar with him, as Cutcliffe was offensive coordinator at the University of Tennessee, and helped older brother Peyton elevate his overall game. He was named Head Coach of the University of Mississippi football team, and was hoping Eli Manning would become his first prize recruit in rebuilding the Rebel program. Upon hearing Cutcliffe’s recruiting pitch; Manning followed his father’s footstep, and became starting QB at Ole Miss.

Manning’s collegiate career was a lot like his personality: quiet but successful. He set or tied 45 single-game, season, and career records at Ole Miss. In his senior year, Manning won the Maxwell Award as the nation’s best all-around collegiate player, the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award, and finished in third-place for the 2003 Heisman Trophy Award behind eventual winner Jason White, quarterback of Oklahoma, and University of Pittsburgh wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald.

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Best all-time franchise players for all 32 NFL teams did a cool feature recently when they asked SportsNation to select an all-time player for each NFL team. Some players were obvious choices for teams, including Brett Favre for the Packers and Barry Sanders for the Lions, but there were some question picks, as well.

The site added links to video of each player, as well as a chance to debate each choice.

Here were some of the more obvious selections:

49ers: Joe Montana, QB
Packers: Brett Favre, QB
Lions: Barry Sanders, RB
Browns: Jim Brown, RB
Dolphins: Dan Marino, QB
Patriots: Tom Brady, QB
Broncos: John Elway, QB
Chargers: LaDainian Tomlinson, RB
Colts: Peyton Manning, QB

And some of the more questionable choices:

Ravens: Matt Stover, K
Saints: Bobby Hebert, QB

As a colleague pointed out, it’s hard to argue with any of these picks because they were chosen by fans. But Matt Stover over Ray Lewis? Bobby Hebert over Archie Manning?

Lewis has been the face of Baltimore’s franchise for almost a decade and Stover is a kicker (albeit a very good kicker) for Jonathan Ogden’s sake. And I know Hebert was a fan favorite that led the team to the playoffs in 1988, but if Manning had a better team around him, he might have led the Saints to their first ever Super Bowl. I thought Pat Swilling would have gotten more love, too. (Swilling only got 2.4% of votes.)

Cool feature, though.

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