Rooting for Little Manning " and not the Pats |

Rooting for Little Manning " and not the Pats

Casper's Corner
Jeff Caspersen
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

I’ll admit it. I hated Eli Manning up until about, well, Week 17.

He near singlehandedly cost me a couple of winning fantasy football seasons. Anticipating a breakout season, I took a flyer on him with mid-round draft picks before the season, and, after four Week 1 touchdown passes, I felt like a genius.

Fifteen weeks of erratic play later (including a four-interception debacle against the Minnesota Vikings in November), I found myself loathing Peyton’s little brother.

You can’t win ’em all.

Then came Eli’s fateful flirtation with football history in Week 17. Representing the NFL’s last hope to derail the villainous Patriots’ run at regular-season perfection, Little Manning and the Giants fell three points short.

That slim defeat has paid fat dividends, and by putting it all on the line in a game that didn’t much matter to them, Eli earned my respect.

For the first time in his career, the normally reticent, laid-back quarterback looked confident and decisive and turned in a heck of a game, a harbinger of playoff games to come.

And how has the football world responded? With comparisons to his brother, Peyton. All seem floored that Eli is, at last, living up to the standard set by his brother.

As if all have forgotten what a rocky start the Colts quarterback endured his first four years in the league.

Did last year’s Indianapolis Super Bowl win vanquish all memories of Eli’s big brother’s previous track record? His penchant for playoff collapse, his jittery pocket presence and choke artistry in the games that mattered most.

Sure, he put up amazing regular season numbers, but Peyton entered the 2006 title year with a 3-7 record in the second season. Not all that impressive against his 80-48 regular-season record during the same eight-year stretch.

Eli may not be putting up the same gaudy numbers as his brother but he’s winning the big games. It took until his fourth year to get the Super Bowl, whereas Peyton didn’t make the big game until his ninth year.

You can throw 40 touchdown passes and rack up 4,500 passing yards every year but if you don’t manage the game and perform under pressure, it’ll all go for naught by season’s end.

So, if only to silence his critics, I’m actually rooting for Eli Manning on Super Sunday. I’ve come to terms with the fact he killed my fantasy season, and forgiveness is the least I can offer to see the Peytons’ overhyped legacy knocked down a peg.

Oh, and to keep evil Bill Belichick from a fourth Super Bowl title. No one outside of New England wants to see that.

Contact Jeff Caspersen: 384-9123

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