Eli Manning may be putting a strong face and a confident spin on the situation, but even the great ones start to have some self-doubt when they get to a certain age and the results they are used to attaining are no longer so easily achievable.
So says Hall of Fame quarterback Brett Favre.
“I can’t say for certain that any other player thinks the way I did, and vice versa, but, for me, absolutely,” Favre said on Sirius XM’s NFL Radio on Wednesday. “You start questioning, ‘Do I still have it? Do people still believe in me? Is it my fault? What else can I do? What else should I do?’ All those thoughts crossed my mind.”
Younger players, he said, often have a sense of immortality. They believe they can do anything, achieve everything.
“If you play long enough the tides will turn and you will question [yourself],” Favre said. “Now, you may not give the impression to anyone else that there is this doubt that has been created in your mind, but I would think that every player who has played a really long time — as long as Eli, maybe longer, maybe not quite as long, but has been around long enough and has had some adversity — questions whether or not they still have it.”
Favre recalled being in a football situation similar to where Manning is now toward the end of his own career.
“I think a guy like Eli, and I don’t know this for certain, but I think guys that are really, really true competitors and have played a long time, you hope that things don’t go bad but if they do you find that you try to do too much,” Favre said. “And I consider that a good quality. You try to offset maybe what your team lacks with your ability. And, yes, that gets you in trouble and then more criticism falls upon you. And I’m not saying Eli is doing that. I think he’s battling his butt off.”
Just because there is a hint of doubt, either swirling publicly or inside a player’s helmet, doesn’t mean that the end is nigh. Favre, in fact, said the offensive line is the biggest obstacle to Manning right now.
“Given good protection I think you see an Eli that we have known to be there at the end,” Favre said. “I think that that’s still there. I don’t see skills diminishing, I see an offensive line struggling to protect him right now. And if they figure that out I think you’ll see that the Eli that we’ve known for so long will be there again.”