This morning I started to think back a few years to 2007. That magical season that seemed to come out of nowhere. Starting with all the talk about Eli Manning and his “comical” role as a leader of the team called the New York Giants. That quote, of course ,came from Tiki Barber in a conversation forced upon him by Cris Collinsworth, who will be calling the game with Al Michaels come next Sunday.
Eli did not have his best regular season that year, and the defense started out as a complete failure. After the comment by Tiki, Eli fired back a bit saying that “It didn’t take long for Tiki to become part of the media”. I always remember Michael Strahan saying that that little comment showed them the real Eli was about to emerge. Eli even talked back to Strahahn later in the year when it was suggested that the team dress in all black for their trip to Super Bowl 42. Eli wore a black suit jacket, but with a white shirt, again making a little statement that he was his own man.
Eli, this year, has had a career year statistically, and in the category of being a leader. He has taken to meeting during the week with the running backs and discussing the game plan and their part in it. He has taken young receivers in Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz under his wing and has pushed them to be their best. He teaches, mentors, and leads these men throughout the game. He does it in his own way. He does it calmly, quietly, but with the confidence of a true leader. He has been fried in the media for having “bad body language” and a “funny look on his face”. Comment by people who have never met him in person, or taken the time to ask the other players how he has affected them.
Now, Ei is leading HIS team to the Super Bowl for the second time. He stood up in front of his teammates in a rare mid-week address and walked them through what to expect in the next two weeks. This is a business trip, and should be treated as such. “We have to have great preparation” he stated and prepare they will. The Giants will practice Thursday, Friday, and Saturday this week before traveling to Indianapolis. The entire game plan will be implemented in New Jersey, and tweaked and repeated once they land in Indiana. Eli, along with his well prepared Head Coach, will lead this team, in the proper mind set, to their second Super Bowl in 4 years. Who would have thought we would be saying that just a few weeks back.