Ever since late November 2007, Eli Manning has had to know only four words to successfully navigate the national media attention his team received after going on an unprecedented road winning streak on its way to a Super Bowl victory. Those four words have been "under the radar" and "underdog."
If Eli Manning had a public appearance in which he didn't say the Giants "like flying under the radar" or "like being the underdog" multiple times a piece, I haven't seen it.
Personally, I've grown tired of this act for a couple of reasons.
The first is easy: It's annoying. It reminds me of the scene in Bull Durham where Crash Davis gives Nuke LaLoosh all the phrases he needs to know in order to cop out of an interview.
If there's anything that angers me more than the frustration I feel after Eli spews the same company line in interview after interview, it's the fact that the line he's spewing isn't even accurate any more.
No one is going to overlook the Giants. Not this season.
There's a reason why only the greatest of teams repeat as Super Bowl champions. Roster turnover plays a part in the difficulty, but a much bigger problem is posed by the competition. Teams want to beat the defending champions and often times these teams turn in their best performances of the season in such games.
This is even more important for the Giants this season because the emphasis will be on beating them when they're the visiting team. Every player on the team hosting the Giants will be well-informed of the Giants' ten straight road wins last year, and that will only add more motivation to play well against the Giants.
So I want to reach out to anyone who may know Eli Manning; his far-flung family members (third and fourth cousins), his college teammates and college sweethearts: Please, tell young Elijah that the NFL knows about him and his team, and tell him to start figuring out a new way to answer journalists' questions.