View Full Version : Revisited -- The Eli Experiment

01-24-2012, 10:39 PM
I'm new to the board and I stumbled upon this article and I thought it's fitting to share this:


This has actually a link to this article in 2004 regarding Giants' choice of Eli:

http://www.nytimes.com/2004/12/19/magazine/19MANNING.html?_r=1&pagewanted=print&%23038;positi on=

I'm so glad we have Eli. I'm sOOO proud of him!

Some highlights:

V. The Magic

It was absurd: a 61-year-old New Yorker hustling down to Mississippi
on a fall weekend in 2002, just to watch a 21-year-old junior
quarterback in the flesh. In the N.F.L., 61 isn't old; it's ancient.
Just about everyone who was in the N.F.L. when Accorsi took his first
job, in 1970, was gone. He'd retire soon; the long-term future of the
New York Giants was of no practical consequence to him. But he'd seen
something he couldn't ignore -- a tape of an Ole Miss game. And what
he'd seen in the Ole Miss quarterback, Eli Manning, got his blood racing
in a way it hadn't in years. He wanted to see him play. He could have
watched him plenty on television, but Accorsi had grown almost hostile
to the way that football games have come to be televised. ''You can't
even see what's on the field, and you can't see the formations,'' he
said. ''The camera is all over the place. On the sidelines. In the
stands. On the coaches' faces. I had no idea what Paul Brown and Vince
Lombardi looked like because all you saw back then was the games.''

He wanted to see what he wanted to see -- every move Eli Manning makes
-- and he wanted to see ''how he responds to the pressure of the game --
how he responds to the crowd.'' He arrived early to the field, to watch
Manning warm up. He couldn't tell from the tape the strength of Eli
Manning's arm; and he couldn't tell from warm-ups either. It was as if
Eli were trying not to show what he had. Did that mean he didn't have
it? Accorsi couldn't tell. He found his seat, not in the press box,
where he wanted to sit, but out on the ice-cold photographers' deck. The
opposing team, Auburn, was stacked with N.F.L. prospects. Ole Miss had
maybe two, and one was Eli Manning. Accorsi watched as Auburn sprinted
ahead, 14-0.

On a couple of occasions, Manning threw long. Running to his right, he
drilled a pass, across his body, to the left side of the field maybe 55
yards. His arm was stronger than Ernie dared to imagine: the kid had a
cannon, possibly stronger than his brother's arm. And then something
happened: Accorsi felt it before he saw the scoreboard change. Manning
was, improbably, keeping Ole Miss in the game; he was finding a way to
win. Ole Miss had simply given up trying to run the football -- at one
point Auburn had outgained them on the ground, 230 yards to 10. And yet
even without a ground game they were moving the ball through the air.
Pass after beautiful pass found its mark. Eli Manning was doing the
riskiest thing a quarterback can do, and everything about this game
merely increased that risk. The pass rushers were always a split second
from killing him; the defensive backs were all bigger and faster than
his receivers; and, because Ole Miss had no running game, everyone in
the stadium expected a pass. And yet he seemed to have a special ability
to cope with risk. Accorsi -- growing more and more excited -- pulled
out his notebook. In a later report, he wrote:

</p><blockquote>Rallied his team from 14-3 halftime deficit basically
all by himself. Led them on two successive third-quarter drives to go
ahead 17-16, the first touchdown on a streak down the left sideline
where he just dropped the ball (about 40 yards) over the receiver's
right shoulder for the touchdown . . . called the touchdown pass (a
quick 12-yard slant) that put them ahead at the line of scrimmage

At one point late in the third quarter, Ole Miss found itself on the
Auburn 15-yard line. The rush came so hard that it knocked Manning down
as he took the snap. The Auburn line just hurled the entire Ole Miss
line backward, and Manning went over like a bowling pin at the back of
the stack. The play looked to be over; but a split end was running a
fade to the corner of the end zone. As Eli fell, with his rear end maybe
two inches off the ground, he threw the ball. A perfect spiral up and
into the outstretched hands of the wide out that would have been yet
another score if the astonished Auburn cornerback hadn't stuck out his
hand at the last moment and deflected the ball.

This kid wasn't like any Accorsi had seen -- not in a long time. He was
tall -- 6-foot-4 at least. He could throw the ball plenty far. He was
decisive. He was poised -- ridiculously so. He had exquisite feel for
the game. But that sterile checklist didn't begin to capture what caused
Accorsi to feel the way he did. ''Forget all about the measurables.''
he says. ''When you're trying to find the difference between the great
quarterback and the good quarterback, you have to feel it. The
intangibles.'' In his 32 years in pro football, Ernie Accorsi had a
chance to draft this sort of talent once: John Elway. As the general
manager of the Baltimore Colts, in 1983, he chose Elway with the first
pick of the draft -- only to hear Elway say he'd rather play
professional baseball than play football in Baltimore, forcing a trade
to Denver. Accorsi quit in frustration; as he put it, ''If I'm going to
lose my job, it's going to be over this, not some right guard.'' And now
here was this kid, a junior at a school that hadn't won anything, whom
he had a shot of drafting. He wrote in his notebook:

</p><blockquote>He has a feel in the pocket. In one case a linebacker
coming off the blind side edge had him measured and he was going to get
mashed. At first, i didn't think he felt it but he held it to the last
split second, threw a completion and got hammered. Just got up and went
back to the huddle. . . . </blockquote>

I know it's just one look. . . . But if i had to make the decision this
morning, i would move up to take him. They are rare, as we know.

The game itself, up close, is a mess. The formations, the elegant
strategy, the athleticism -- when you're right next to it, it's all
chaos. The ball goes up in the air any distance at all and the only way
you can deduce what has become of it is by the reaction of the crowd.
When Eli Manning drops back to pass, if you're standing a few yards away
on the sidelines, you have no sense of him doing something so
considered as making a decision. The monsters charging at him from every
direction are in his face so quickly that you flinch and stifle the
urge to scream, ''Watch out!'' There is no way, you think, that he can
possibly evaluate which of these beasts is most likely to get to him
first, and so which of them he should take the trouble to evade. At that
moment any sensible person in Manning's shoes would flee. Or, perhaps,
collapse to the ground and beg for mercy. Yet he is expected to wait . .
. wait . . . wait . . . until the microsecond before he is crushed.
He's like a man who has pulled the pin from a grenade and is refusing to
throw it.

But here's what's odd: not only must he remain undisturbed by the live
grenade in his hands, he must also retain, in his mind's eye, the
detached view of the man sitting in the pillbox on the rim of the
stadium. The quarterback alone must weld together these two radically
different points of view -- the big picture and the granular details.
For there is no way to react intelligently, in real time, to the chaos;
you need to be able to envision its pattern before it takes shape. You
have to, in short, guess. A lot. Every time Eli Manning drops back and
makes a decision, he's just guessing. His guesses produce uneven
results, but he is shockingly good at not making the worst ones. God may
know -- though I doubt it -- if Eli Manning will one day be a star in
the N.F.L. But if there was the slightest hint of uncertainty or
discomfort in the rookie, I didn't see it. The only unpleasant emotion
he conveyed -- and it was very slight, in view of the circumstances --
was frustration. The one emotional trait he shares with his older
brother is maybe the most important: success is his equilibrium state.
He expects it.

The most revealing play of the game occurred after everyone stopped
watching. Down 31-7, the Giants got the ball back with 22 seconds left
to play. Instead of taking a knee and heading for the showers, Manning
dropped back to pass. The Redskins, still high on the novel experience
of actually beating someone, blitzed eight men. Manning found his tight
end, Jeremy Shockey, for nine yards across the middle, to midfield. With
six seconds left and the clock ticking, Manning ran over to the
official and called timeout. From any other point of view except for his
-- and the Giants' long-term future -- stopping the clock was deeply
annoying. The game was over. The news media -- along with Accorsi and
the rest of the Giants management -- had streamed down to the interview
rooms. The Redskins cheerleaders, freezing in their leather
micro-shorts, were hurrying to pack up. Most of the 90,000 fans were
gone, and the few who remained booed. But Tom Coughlin wanted Eli
Manning to see as much as he could of this very good N.F.L. defense. He
wanted Eli to make one more decision, and throw one last pass against
the Redskins blitz -- incomplete, as it happened. It was the game within
the game -- the education of Eli Manning.