Say what you will if you’re a critic of New York Giants’ quarterback Eli Manning.
It’s all been said countless times before… Manning doesn’t exude the same type of on-field leadership skills as his brother, Indianapolis Colts’ quarterback Peyton Manning. And, he simply hasn’t had, nor will he seemingly ever possess the overall quarterback skills of Peyton.
But, one criticism of the younger Manning signal caller that would be unfounded is that he lacks toughness.
That’s certainly been proven otherwise, such as when Manning shook off a bloodied head injury like it was nothing in last year’s unveiling of the (then-named) New Meadowlands Stadium. And, Manning’s resolve was shown again, a season earlier, when he performed like a pro bowl starter against Oakland with a very painful right heel injury.
Of far greater significance, Manning outplayed the legendary Brett Favre on Lambeau Field’s renowned frozen tundra in severe cold and snow while helping the Giants to a 2007 NFC championship title.
That came right before facing the pressure and coming through (albeit with the help of a little luck – thank you, David Tyree and Asante Samuel) on a game-winning drive against the undefeated New England Patriots to deliver the Giants’ third Super Bowl title.
Yes, time and again, through a sometimes up, sometimes down career, Manning has taken his lumps and has fought through adversity.
And, through it all, he’s always remained on the field.
Ironically now, it’s the younger brother Eli who will suddenly become the league’s most durable quarterback at his older brother’s expense, as the NFL kicks off its 92nd season this week.
Thanks to back and shoulder issues following off-season neck surgery, Peyton is about to unfortunately end the longest active streaks (227 games overall, including 208 in the regular season) for consecutive starts by an NFL quarterback, and Eli is next on the list to take his brother’s place.
Unlike 35-year-old-Peyton, the Giants’ Manning (who will turn 31 two days after New York’s regular season finale against Dallas on New Year’s Day) will play on Sunday and continue what will then become the NFL’s new longest active quarterback starts streaks when he begins his eighth year in the league with his 111th consecutive start overall and 104th in a row during the regular season.
Especially painful for Peyton and Colts’ fans is that Indianapolis’ entire season could be in jeopardy as the prognosis of Eli’s brother returning to the lineup anytime soon is uncertain at the moment during a season when the Colts’ home stadium is set to host Super Bowl XLVI, in February.
Meanwhile, making Peyton’s situation even more ironic for Eli and Giants’ fans doesn’t end with Eli taking over his brother’s reign for active durability.
That’s because of all players to come out of oblivion to take over for Peyton (at least for now), it’s the ex-Giant who led New York to the Super Bowl prior to Eli accomplishing the same feat. Yes, none other than former Super Bowl XXXV quarterback Kerry Collins, who will start in Peyton’s place on Sunday, in Houston, after coming out of retirement for an 18th season at age 38.