You know something, it is freaking hard being a younger brother sometimes, especially if you are a younger brother than many see as inferior in what you do. You get picked on by people looking to get a rise out of you and family reunions just blow because, well, you aren't the golden child that he is. Heck, even in the back of your head, there are usually doubts about your own abilities even though you know you got what it takes to get the job done.
Now take those feelings and put them on a national stage and you got what Eli Manning of the Giants has been going through his entire life.
Throughout his entire NFL career, despite holding the same amount of SuperBowl wins, Eli has always been compared negatively to older brother Peyton. Peyton has always been the better passer, the better competitor. His mastery of the QB position is so much more than Eli's and by gosh, can that boy act! Old Eli just looks as uncomfortable as a fish out of water when he gets a camera on him!
While the last may be true, Peyton can sure put out some funny commercials, the rest is fast becoming fiction. With Peyton out of the picture, at least for a season, Eli has stepped up his game and has his Giants just two wins shy of something big brother has never accomplished, winning a second SuperBowl.
Coming off of a season where he passed for 4933 yards with 29 touchdowns and 16 interceptions, as well as an upset win over the defending SuperBowl Champs in their own house, Eli has catapulted himself into the discussion for top 5 quarterbacks in the NFL. His mechanics, always flawless, seemed to have got even better this season, as well as his field vision. The most notable change in Eli this year, though, has to be the confidence he has displayed, even amidst adversity.
The old Eli, the more skittish and unsure one, often looked lost under center as errant throw after errant throw would go to the other team. This season, however, Eli has this air of confidence that is noticeable when he drops back. Heck, he even looks Tom Brady-ish in the way he stands under pressure, just waiting for his guys to hit the second level so he can throw them a dart.
Overall, with Peyton not in the mix to be compared to this season, Eli has flourished under the lack of that kind of spotlight and has become more his own man than at any point in his career. Is this just a fluke or is it a sign that he is becoming, at the very least, as good as his brother?
Time will tell on this one but if he manages to get another SuperBowl ring, over either Tom Brady or that vaunted Ravens defense, then I think he can hold his head pretty high the next time the Manning's have a get together.
Photo Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS