New York Giants’ QB Eli Manning has been named one of Sports Illustrated’s “Inspiring Performers of 2012” after leading the Giants to a Super Bowl XLVI victory earlier this year. Manning and the Giants were at .500 at 7-7 before they won their final two regular season games to win the NFC East.
They then won four postseason games against long odds to win their second Super Bowl in four years. Prior to Super Bowl XLVI, only the Los Angeles Rams in 1979 and the Arizona Cardinals in 2008 advanced to the Super Bowl with a 9-7 record. The Giants are the only team to win a Super Bowl with a 9-7 record, mainly due to Manning’s play in the postseason.
Manning only threw one interception in the postseason, and toughed out a hard-fought NFC Championship Game where he was sacked six times and knocked down countless other times to snatch victory from the San Francisco 49ers. New England Patriots’ QB Tom Brady said he preferred to have the ball last just so Manning wouldn’t get an opportunity for a game-winner.
Unfortunately for them, Manning got that opportunity and seized it like many people expected he would. He led the Giants to the game-winning score and another championship, etching his name in Giants’ lore.
Manning’s performance during the 2011 season and 2012 postseason were definitely inspiring. Manning told ESPN’s Michael Kay on his radio show that he was an elite quarterback, and was promptly disrespected for saying that. ESPN NFL analyst Darren Woodson said Manning is a top 15 quarterback, which is clearly disrespectful.
On the NFL Network’s Top 100 players of 2011 list, Manning didn’t even crack the list. How disrespectful? Quarterbacks like Donovan McNabb, Josh Freeman, Joe Flacco and Matt Ryan all cracked the list ahead of Manning. Manning didn’t come into the 2011 season trying to prove a point. He came in looking to win a championship.
When you have a franchise quarterback like that for your team, it makes it great to watch.