Friday, April 20, 2007

HoG Feature: How Doth We Lovest Thou, O Manning Family? Let Us Count the Ways

We've nailed down the skinny on the HoG. Old # 7's Editor's Note exuded precision when it professed our strict, AFC West-based religion. We have that in common, regardless of our differences. Their (oNs & Cecil's) side of Kanorado embodies a Christian belief; the Messiah has come, he delivered them the grace of God, died for their sins, and will has come again in glory to judge the living and the dead perhaps take them once more to the Promised Land. Our (my) side is a shitload bit more Jewish than that; we believe that said Messiah was a man -- a pretty good man at that -- but by no means the son of God.

We do, however, have agreements from time to time. One thing we frequently agree on is the uber-existence of stand-up guys on teams we a) hate, b) don't care about, or c) don't care about how much we hate. Pardon the cliche, but the dime a dozen category isn't exactly full of this caliber of citizen/athlete. Therefore, when we see a dandy chum -- or two -- we feel it to be our journalistic responsibility to point them out. Especially when they cruise under the proverbial radar. That's why we would like to turn your attention to these fine two lads.

God, they're handsome. That's a mere one of thousands of characteristics we love about Peyton and Eli Manning, though. These boys came virtually unnoticed out of the ranks of college football. They, like the rest of underprivileged America, borrowed federal loans to pay for their tuition, worked full-time jobs while taking full class loads, and still managed to partipate in athletics at their respective little-known Division II universities. Most folks had barely, if at all, heard of them by the time they declared themselves eligible for the NFL draft. Those that knew of the Manning boys shared the opinion that their chances of making a team were slim to none. Thus, they had their sights set on playing Canadian football, with the ultimate hope of maybe one day making an NFL Europe roster, or perhaps a practice squad here in the states.

Amazingly, though, they bucked all of the odds, and worked diligently to get onto actual NFL teams of their own accord. Peyton, the elder Manning, was courted by the Indianapolis Colts halfway through the 1998 season when their long snapper snapped his fibula. After a grueling 18 months of perfecting this art form, he worked himself into the permanent position of backup punter. Having excelled at these positions, he tried out for wide receiver and, by virtue of the Colts' starting quarterback contracting a mean case of salmonella, wound up taking snaps under center. He remains the Colts' starting QB today. Eli's stories of adversity are no different. He now boasts the starting QB role for the New York Giants. Their tales do not end there, though.

The Manning brothers have thwarted standards associated with today's NFL quarterbacks. They get, and are content with, next to no exposure from the national media. Nor do they seek it. Furthermore, while quarterbacks like Atlanta's Michael Vick, Green Bay's Brett Favre, and New England's Tom Brady rake in boatloads of American dollars, the Mannings play for pennies, often times giving away the few they have earned. When you couldn't think they could do anymore positive, they both continue to impress their colleagues as both leaders and good teammates. Living their modest lives both on and off the field has become a staple to the brothers. Their workingman's salaries are fairly taxed, just like any other citizen, and both have declined opportunities to model products for endorsement money.

What's more, Peyton and Eli have a third brother, Cooper. Physical ailments prevented him from slaving away to get into the system like his brothers, but he is there in spirit and in thought at each and every Colts and Giants practice, meeting, and game. These sentiments are slivers of hay in the 1000-acre field of reasons why the HoG loves the Manning brothers. They are stupendous examples of hard work, humility, and perseverance in a sporting world that seldom recognizes such qualities. For these reasons, and many more, we salute you, boys. Now go out there and get your teams some well-deserved recognition. Salud.