If you have ever wondered what clauses are included in a standard NFL contract, the current NFL CBA has an example found in Appendix A.
Within that 25-section contract, you will find the following verbiage in Section 11 regarding Skill, Performance, and Conduct:
Player understands that he is competing with other players for a position on Club’s roster within the applicable player limits. If at any time, in the sole judgment of Club, Player’s skill or performance has been unsatisfactory as compared with that of other players competing for positions on Club’s roster, or if Player has engaged in personal conduct reasonably judged by Club to adversely affect or reflect on Club, then Club may terminate this contract. In addition, during the period any salary cap is legally in effect, this contract may be terminated if, in Club’s opinion, Player is anticipated to make less of a contribution to Club’s ability to compete on the playing field than another player or players whom Club intends to sign or attempts to sign, or another player or players who is or are already on Club’s roster, and for whom Club needs room.
Why bring this up? Because nowhere in that section or in the standard player contract for that matter does it say that a player is responsible for holding the hand of a younger teammate.
I mention this because there seems to be a romanticized version of the expectations regarding the dynamics between Eli Manning and Daniel Jones.
I have seen some people drooling over the chance that Manning and Jones might one day engage in a shouting match over whose quarterback room it is, or that Manning might decide to thumb his nose at the youngster and let him find his way around life in the NFL.
Both general manager Dave Gettleman and head coach Pat Shurmur have done everything in their power to remove all potential distractions from that locker room and make this team as boring off the field as possible, I can’t see Manning and Jones being anything other than friendly competitors, each of whom understands his role moving forward.
For Manning, it’s going to be business as usual: Spend the rest of the off-season and training camp getting ready to lead the Giants to a level of football that has eluded the team every year since 2013, except for the 2016 season.
“I think there is always an urgency to win. Your job is to go out there and find ways to get that accomplished. Play good football and be a good leader and teammate. I don’t think anything changes.”
He’s right, and yes, that includes this idea some people have that Manning needs to hold Jones’ hand this year and that Manning would probably rather subject himself to a root canal than to be there for a kid who will ultimately succeed him.
That’s certainly understandable, especially when you look around the league and you see instances where veteran quarterbacks weren’t always as receptive to helping their younger teammates.
So why will things be different with Manning and Jones?
First, Shurmur and Gettleman have been upfront about what their expectations are and have conveyed those to Manning rather than to let him twist in the wind.
”I view the quarterback position as we have a starter in Eli and we have guys behind him, specifically Daniel Jones, that needs to do everything he can to be able to play week one,” Shurmur said Monday when asked about those expectations.
Second, and perhaps most important, they have a guy in Manning who is comfortable in his own skin to answer questions brought to him, yet is still driven to work at being the best player he can be.
The way this relationship with Jones is going to work is simple: Manning isn’t going to henpeck his younger teammate to make sure he drinks all his milk and washes behind his ears.
Instead, Manning is going to serve as a sounding board for when Jones has questions. He’s going to allow the kid to find his footing and take (and learn) from his lumps.
“You are always willing to help and talk football (and) teach the guys that are willing to be helped,“ Manning said.
He added, “It is a little bit on Daniel to be in there asking questions and everyone willing to help out in those situations.”
He’s right; it is on Jones to know when to check in with Manning for advice just as it will be on Jones to determine if he will follow Manning’s lead by putting on his cleats in the same way as Manning or doing it his way.
This structure is going to help both quarterbacks in the end. Manning will be able to focus on getting himself ready to play and lead this team in 2019. Jones, meanwhile, will start to develop the callouses necessary to survive in the New York market, especially when adversity strikes.