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Revisited -- The Eli Experiment

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  • Revisited -- The Eli Experiment

    I'm new to the board and I stumbled upon this article and I thought it's fitting to share this:

    http://nymag.com/daily/sports/2012/0...ascendant.html

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

    http://www.nytimes.com/2004/12/19/ma...3038;position=

    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:





    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
    himself.





    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:





    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. . . .





    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.




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