One doesn’t need a degree in psychology to know there’s nothing in Elisha Nelson Manning’s cerebral makeup to suggest he’s a fiery, emotional kind of guy.
It’s a quality he’s often criticized for but has served him well during his NFL career. The ability to keep his emotions in check almost to the point of stoicism is valuable when playing in the nation’s largest media market.
However, when Manning does deliver an out-of-character fiery, emotional speech, his New York Giants teammates pay close attention. Archie and Olivia’s youngest delivered such a speech before Sunday’s game against the Kansas City Chiefs at MetLife Stadium.
The Giants had lost three games in a row: home thrashings to the Seattle Seahawks and Los Angeles Rams and an embarrassing away stinker to the previously winless San Francisco 49ers. They were outscored 106-45 in those three losses, dropping them to 1-8 on the season.
Whatever Manning said before Sunday’s game worked. The Giants played with an aggression and urgency that hasn’t been seen this season, catching a perhaps overconfident and freefalling Chiefs squad off guard.
The Giants won 12-9 in overtime, their 11th victory in 14 lifetime games against the Chiefs including seven wins on their home turf.
“Eli is the heartbeat of our team,” running back Orleans Darkwa said. “Pregame, he gave a fiery speech that got everybody riled up, and to have a guy like that, that has been through so much, that’s got those two Super Bowl rings, we follow him. We follow his footsteps in everything, so to have him come up there—it just shows the weight that he carries on this team and he’s definitely up for it.”
The Giants offense was in neutral for most of the day, despite scoring the game’s only touchdown. The defense, after getting embarrassed in the previous three games, held the NFL’s fifth-highest scoring offense to just three field goals. Not a bad day for a Giants squad that was a 10-point underdog at home.
Manning also addressed the team after the win.
“Enjoy it, baby. Feel good about it,” Manning said. “We have to keep it going, man. We’ve been working hard and we enjoy it. We deserve this win. We deserve to feel this good. We have another one on Thursday. Let’s feel good on Thanksgiving. Giants on three! One, two, three…GIANTS!!!”
The Giants travel to the nation’s capital for a Thanksgiving night matchup with the division rival Washington Redskins.
Manning is adept at delivering fiery, emotional speeches…he just doesn’t do it enough. It’s not in his cerebral makeup to do so but when he does, his teammates listen. Most important of all, his teammates also act
“Everybody tries to follow in his footsteps because, at the end of the day, he’s been there, he’s done that as far as reaching the promised land and getting those two Super Bowl rings,” Darkwa said. “Everybody is trying to push for that goal, so we try to follow his footsteps as much as possible.”
It takes more than on-the-field prowess to succeed as an NFL quarterback. The position also requires leadership ability, the talent of galvanizing 53 players toward one singular goal. Eli Manning might not have had the best day statistically (19-of-35 for 205 yards) but he led the Giants to their second victory of 2017 with his will, words, and actions when they counted the most.
The next person who calls for the Giants to move on from Eli Manning would be wise to remember that.