The Giants are usually focused on beating a team like the Redskins. Archie Manning said yesterday that he's most proud of Eli Manning for not being on a team like the Redskins.
"I played on teams that had long, tough years and I played in situations where things became unraveled," Archie Manning told Newsday. "You see a couple of other places now where things are kind of coming unraveled. That says something about the Giants organization and Tom Coughlin and the leaders. They've held things together. You don't always see that."
Archie was referring to the situation in Washington, where obvious conflicts between the owner, head coach and quarterback have led the Redskins to splinter just a year after winning the NFC East title. The Giants, who will miss the playoffs for the second straight year and withstood a six-game losing streak to start this season, seem to have maintained cohesion.
"They're not the best team in the league, but they're trying to hold together and play ball," Archie said. "I think there's something to be said for that."
Archie Manning spoke in Manhattan at the announcement of the Liberty Mutual College Coach of the Year finalists by the National Football Foundation.
"I think leadership is so important in our world, in our country, in our society," Manning said. "Certainly it's important in football. I'm proud of Eli as a leader. That's the only thing I ever tell him: 'You keep fighting and you keep leading.' There's not a lot you can say. We don't have hourlong conversations about this or anything, we just talk father-to-son, not too long. He's busy. He's got work to do. Eli will be OK. He'll be OK."
He hasn't exactly been OK this year. He's thrown 20 interceptions and been sacked 33 times, both statistics that can be directly parlayed to the disappointing 5-8 record and the elimination from playoff contention. Archie, naturally, said he doesn't think all of the blame should be put on the quarterback.
"When Eli led the Giants to championships here, it was because they had a good team," Archie said. "They ran the ball, they balanced their offense, they got after quarterbacks, they did all of the things you have to do to win a championship. For various reasons, the Giants haven't been able to do that this year. Eli's done his part, he hasn't played as good, but the Giants haven't played as good.
"I don't individualize the quarterback position. Everybody is ranting and raving about Peyton. Peyton's having a good year because the Broncos' offense is having a good year. That's the way I look at it."
Archie Manning said the worst thing about football is losing and then having to wait a week to get back on the field. Eli Manning rarely shows that kind of frustration or emotion. But that doesn't mean he's not feeling it.
"Eli's a solid guy," Archie said. "He doesn't go too high or too low. But he's dying, just like everybody else with the Giants. He hates what's going on. But he's plugging. He's fighting, just like the rest of them."