I just read a FanPost. It is titled In Defense of Eli: Enough is Enough. It's a great post, you should read it. It's got a lot of truth to it, and quite frankly sounds a lot like something I would write.
It got me thinking though, so I'm writing this post. It’s going to be quite long and personal, so I apologize in advance for that, and I also apologize if I offend anyone.
There is no question that for years on this site (and others like it) I was the loudest voice in favor of Eli Manning. Often times, more often than I’d like in fact, I was one of a very small few. I came to this blog day after day and quite literally sought out detractors who had the audacity to question the abilities of our starting QB. I dared anyone to show me undeniable evidence of why Eli shouldn’t be considered a top quarterback. I laughed at those who said we’d be better off with Big Ben, Rivers, or Romo, and held my ground when meaningless statistics seemed to prove they were right. Many times I was called foolish, a homer, or just down right stupid, but I persisted. I wrote posts about how he was a future Hall of Famer, how he was indeed elite, how he deserved to be recognized as one of the leagues best, and how he will go down as the greatest quarterback in Giants history. Many times I found myself getting riled up to the point where I questioned a number of fans allegiance, when they couldn’t get behind such an obviously great quarterback. As the years went on, these posts and comments became less of a joke to my fellow Giants fans, and more of a reality that they too saw in front of them.
I see that post today, and I feel like it won’t be met with much of an argument from any Giants fans. In fact, it would be downright silly to argue it at this point. And I guess I really don’t know what to make of it. Last year at this time there was a post written by a gentlemen by the name of PaulieKnucklez who lambasted Eli up and down. There were Giants fans that actually agreed with it. This year? Someone posted a similar "Eli Hate" post, and it was met with nothing but hilarious movie quotes completely unrelated to his horrible post. There’s also been weekly updates on Eli stats this season…it’s clear the Eli love is through the roof in 2011. If I’m being honest I took great pleasure in being the one to show how wrong the detractors were. I always had a lot of fun defending Eli when so many others thought he was so obviously inferior. I truly felt like I knew something the unfortunately misinformed did not, and I was all too happy to layeth the knowledge smackdown on them. Two years ago that post that AKMORA wrote would not have been written. No one would have taken a stand to compare Eli to Peyton, and if they had it would have been laughed at by a good few. But today, now that those same meaningless statistics appear to match the product I and others have seen on the field since 2007, are people really now going to so easily say that YES Eli Manning is a great quarterback? And that YES we as Giants fans should recognize this? Am I no longer going to feel this duty inside of me to remind everyone what greatness we have at the most important position in all of sports?
I must admit this is really making me think. Has Eli Manning officially arrived? I spent hours upon hours in comment sections of my life defending this man like my fandom depended on it. At first I was one of few, but I feel…I guess I hope anyway, that the many Fanposts I wrote in some small way helped build the army of Eli fans that can be found on this site today. Will Eli no longer be seen as the little brother? Will Eli finally get his due? I don’t care, I never cared, but it seems like this is exactly what’s happening.
I always knew that this franchise was only going to go as far as Eli took it, maybe that’s why I took it upon myself to set up a bunker in his corner, and fire shots at anyone willing to attack it. I love the Giants, but to me…and this might piss some people off…Eli Manning is the Giants. He represents them in every way you wish a Giant would. He’s quiet, humble, and as classy a guy off the field you could wish for. He never pushed blame on others, when so many opportunities arose for him to do so, and never fully accepts praise when it’s clear he was the reason for a successful stretch. Looking at last season, it would have been easy for Eli to say "Yea, we had some tipped passes and a rag-tag group of recivers, that’s why I threw 25 interceptions." Instead he simply shouldered all the blame and promised us he was not a 25 interception quarterback. He's lost so many countless weapons on offense over the years, but still consistently put up better numbers every year with new and young talent.
In the beginning of the season he said he was in Tom Brady’s class. "Snicker snicker" went the national media and fans alike. Who’s snickering now? This brings me back to my question: Has Eli Manning finally arrived? I don’t know. I honestly have not seen that drastic a change in his performance other than his willingness to accept more sacks, which I predicted he would do before the season. I have always seen him as a great quarterback, and so far this year the god damn meaningless numbers just so happen to be justifying it. WIll opposing fans ever give Eli his due? I doubt it, his polarizing nature, and the fact he is the younger brother of one of the greatest QBs of all time make it hard for me to believe that he will.
But the more important question, is one thing I have been trying to achieve since my very first Fanpost years ago, and that is: Have the Giants fans arrived in getting fully behind Eli Manning? I think they have, and I think my work here is done, even if it was never needed in the first place.