Just another Sunday night
Update 6:50pm: even Len Pasquarelli is down with the Giant-bashing
If the past three losses have represented the slow and confounding deterioration of a team once regarded as possessing Super Bowl potential, this week has been the equivalent of a freight train rumbling downhill with its brake lines purposely sliced.
The knives are out. Ever since Eli Manning came out and said he would not play for the San Diego Chargers so don't bother drafting me, I've been waiting for this. You see, Eli's father Archie Manning was a lovable loser, an outstanding quarterback on terrible teams. He played for the Saints from 1971 to 1981, and never during that time did New Orleans post a winning record. Still bitter, Archie convinced his son Eli, who followed his father's footsteps in attending Ole Miss, that being drafted by a bad team was tough enough, but a bad team in a limited media market was worse. With the media coverage in a city like New York, there was no way Eli could go off and be good (like Archie) and not draw a great team around him. Back in Archie's day, the Saints were not expected to be good, so there was no sense of urgency by the team. Archie wanted to be sure that never happened to his boy.
So he convinced Eli flatly to reject the idea of playing for San Diego. In the labor-driven world of the NFL, where agents continue to push for ever-richer contracts most players will never see the end of, players can refuse to renegotiate if they disappoint but demand new contracts if they excel and assessment of 'dead money' is an annual fact of capology, one of the last places the owners control the flow is the draft. You don't get to pick your team, it gets to pick you, just like on the playground. Playing in the NFL is a privilege, not a right, and for my part, it was a disrespect to the league for the Mannings (and Peyton was right there with dad and bro on ESPN) to use the media to force San Diego's hand.
How's that working out for Eli now Archie? Last Sunday, the New York Times ran a piece on Eli, discussing the implications of high draft picks not panning out. Money quote:
What if Manning is merely another decent quarterback? What if the ability that he has shown so far is all the Giants will get, for however many years they put their faith in him?
Manning’s play could affect several decisions the Giants will face: whether to extend Coughlin’s contract beyond the 2007 season; whether Coughlin shuffles any assistant coaches this off-season, particularly the offensive coordinator, John Hufnagel, and the quarterbacks coach, Kevin Gilbride; whether the replacement for General Manager Ernie Accorsi, who is retiring, is one of his disciples inside the organization or someone from outside; and whether the Giants pursue another quarterback next off-season, maybe a veteran to push Manning, if not replace him.
Today, the Washington Post piles on with a great article called 'Start Spreading the Blame.' The Giants are flaming out, with Plaxico Burress the target of Michael Strahan, who in turn nearly beat up a reporter. Tiki (Wahoowa!) called out the coach's playcalling again. And then there's Eli:
The quarterback has been horrible of late, putting up passer ratings of 28.3, 51.9 and 59.1 in the last three games...Perhaps it wouldn't be so bad had the Giants not essentially traded quarterback Philip Rivers, now starring for San Diego, and the draft pick that became last season's defensive rookie of the year, linebacker Shawne Merriman, for Manning.
As a post-script, it should be noted that Peyton Manning was selected first overall in 1998 by Indianapolis, which was coming off a 3-13 season in 1997, had fired coach Lindy Infante and hired a new coach in Jim Mora Sr. As a media market, I think Indianapolis makes San Diego look like New York, so where was svengali Archie then? To my thinking, this means one of two things: either Peyton told his father to take a flying leap, I'm going where I get drafted, or Archie simply had more confidence in Peyton's ability to success on his own, without the father's influence.