Recently at a Gatorade event in SOHO New York, I had the privilege of meeting one of the most talented and distinguished athletes in the NFL, New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning.
For six years, Manning has been keeping Giants' fans on their toes with his erratic passes at times, and clutch fourth-quarter drives.
With the 2010 NFL Draft and regular season quickly approaching, and an offseason that has kept Giants' fans more entertained then the 2009 season ever could, there was plenty to discuss with the 2007 Super Bowl MVP.
Q: How do you feel about this upcoming season? What are your thoughts? Any expectations or concerns, and how do you feel?
Eli Manning: I feel great. I think we go off to a great start this past month. We started our offseason workouts with great enthusiasm and energy. Guys are back and itching to get started, and ready to prove we are a better team now then we were last year, so that's great to see. Now it's just a matter of working hard and coming together as a team. We have great talent, now it's just a matter of putting it all together and playing like a great team.
Q: Antonio Pierce was a cornerstone of not only defense, but the entire team for so many years. What does his release mean to the team?
Eli Manning: Antonio was a great leader for us, tremendous player on the field, he's just a veteran guy who knows the ropes. We're going to need someone to step up and fill that role, and fill that presence on the field, at practice, bringing it, bringing a great attitude and work ethic everyday. In that case he will be missed, but I think we have guys who can fill that role.
Q: Speaking of the vacancy at the middle linebacker position, where would you like to see the Giants go in the draft, maybe in the first and second rounds?
Eli Manning: I'll leave that up to the scouts and the coaches, that's what they've been doing for the past four months, watching film and figuring out what we need and what's the most important positions we have to fill. We've done a great job in the draft these past few of years, so I know they'll do whatever's most important for the team.
Q: Brandon Jacobs struggled statistically last season, why do you think he struggled so much when compared to previous years?
Eli Manning: He was banged up last year, and was playing and practicing hurt, but stayed strong, that's part of being a running back, it happens sometimes. Now he's back healthy and feeling good and working hard, so I'm expecting big things from Brandon this year.
Q: Last question, an off-the-field topic: Are you and Peyton planning on defending your Double-Stuff Oreo title this year?
Eli Manning: [Laughing] We'll see, ya know. We've done real well, but I don't know, we'll have to see what happens.