New York Giants' Eli Manning Joins My List of NFL Man Crushes

Justin CatesCorrespondent IFebruary 12, 2012

The many faces of Eli Manning add to the fun of watching him.
The many faces of Eli Manning add to the fun of watching him.Jamie Squire/Getty Images

A full week has elapsed following the Super Bowl, and we’re now at a safe distance to begin looking at what happened in the last football game of the NFL season we were apparently lucky to have.

The Giants are champions, and Eli is the No. 1 Manning—better than even Papa Bear. 

It was a hyped match between the soulless Patriots and the often comically harmless Giants, the accidental champions of the NFC.

I tried telling people weeks ago that if the Giants somehow made the playoffs they stood an excellent shot at winning the whole thing.

It was a laughable statement at the time (even now it’s pretty funny), but that’s the kind of team they are. 

They were woefully inept for much of the campaign and lost two games to the lowly Redskins, who won only four games all season. New York stumbled through most of the other matches, but won a handful in come-from-behind fashion.

That left NFL junkies and even diehard fans with little confidence in the Giants.

But the NFL playoffs reward a team on a hot streak like a casino temporarily caters to a drunk who keeps winning. 


If we were to compare the football abilities of Archie’s boys using the metaphor of penmanship, Peyton’s words would appear as a sweeping 18th-century font worthy of the Declaration of Independence. Eli is more like someone who scrawls important documents in all caps because his lower case hatchet marks are illegible to even him. 

Hooray!Al Bello/Getty Images

But beautiful flourishes and grace aren’t always the best way to win a football game. It’s a gritty, ugly sport and sometimes the brute force of all caps writers can bulldoze their way into the end zone more often than the other team.

Such is the legend of Eli. 

Take an honest look at Eli for two minutes and see if you can hate him. It’s impossible unless you’re some kind of heartless lobotomy cast-off.

Manning is a goofy child of a man whose default visual appearance is one of utter confusion, which makes that old criticism from Tiki Barber all the more laughable. 

Barber is one of the great idiots of our time, famously retiring early from the NFL to go into television—a career he was poorly suited for—and infamously left his pregnant wife of 11 years for a 23-year-old NBC intern.

Barber said that Manning’s pregame speeches were “almost comical.” That’s unfair because I’m sure they were downright hilarious. 

Eli is the “aww, shucks” kind of hillbilly near and dear to everyone’s heart, and his earnestness is endearing. His confusion adds to his sincerity, and we relish it almost as much as his tough-as-nails mentality on the field (see the NFC championship game against the 49ers).

We've seen Eli pummeled into human hamburger on national television only to watch as he scraped himself up with a “gee whiz” and a shake of his clouded noggin to lead comeback after comeback.

He’s answered his critics and is a two-time Super Bowl MVP. Even if somehow big brother ends up across town in the offseason, Eli is King of New York and will reign in all modesty for some time to come.