Eli shouldn’t earn credit for pep talk to nowhere

Even Eli Manning’s pep talks are about as enlivening as a quilting convention. Eli didn’t exactly pull a Jim Fassel and throw all his chips onto the table when he decided to address the Giants solo yesterday for the first time in his seven seasons for Big Blue.

Despite managing to turn a blowout win into the NFL loss of the year, the Giants do not exactly face a Herculean task. All they have to do to guarantee a playoff berth is beat a Green Bay team reeling from its own unbelievable kick coverage gaffe.

If it’s not Lucy predicting that Charlie Brown will miss the football, it’s in the same ballpark. It’d be like LeBron James giving a pep talk before facing the Knicks’ defense.

And the crazy thing is Eli will probably be given mad props for the move if the Giants simply deliver a playoff berth that should have already been secured. A playoff spot and the inevitable early exit will now probably be enough to keep Eli and Tom Coughlin in good standing in the Mara world.

It’s all about bouncing back and all that other mumbo jumbo that franchises that aren’t truly obsessed with winning focus on, after all. Instead of celebrating Eli finally stepping up to talk to “his team,” someone with the Giants should be wondering what the hell took so long. You know what they call “a leader” in any other walk of life who never actually addresses his team? Fired.

Yes, everyone knows that Eli is ultra cautious (except when it comes to actually protecting the football). But at some point, you figured he’d have said something — anything — before DeSean Jackson became a legend.

Trying to paint this Monday moment as a milestone ignores all the times when Eli probably should have spoke up before. He didn’t have anything to add when Plaxico Burress shot apart that Giants’ season?

Maybe Coughlin should be demanding more of Manning, rather than a punter with no power. Instead, the coach plays right along with the media creation, adding to the idea that Eli’s found his voice. So many Giants were so quick to talk about Eli’s little speech that the quarterback’s protests about wanting to keep it private ring hollow.

The Giants organization obviously wanted this story out. That’s become the franchise’s specialty — weaving neat feel-good tales that help hide the dark days.

–Chris Baldwin covers the sports media for Metro.

Metro does not endorse the opinions of the author, or any opinions expressed on its pages. Opposing viewpoints are welcome. Send submissions to letters@metro.us.


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