Tuesday, 27 July 2010

My Scribblings 2/4

Not much to blog about at the moment, so here's Part 2 of my writings for you all to hopefully enjoy. This piece is an article that was published in the university magazine, Crywolf. It's about two brothers who play in the NFL, but I tried to write the piece to appeal to people who aren't fans of American football and to make it a bit more interesting than the standard biographies you read:

Here's a question for you to mull over for a few minutes – how many sporting siblings can you name? Okay, so there's some obvious ones - Venus and Serena Williams, Gary and Phil Neville, Steve and Mark Waugh etc. But how many of you, upon reading the question, immediately thought of Eli and Peyton Manning? If you didn't, let me tell you a little bit about them.

For 13 years, Archie Manning was a commanding NFL QB (Quarterback), spending most of his career with the New Orleans Saints. However, Archie is perhaps more famous for his actions off the field, rather than on it. In 1976, he fathered his second son, Peyton, followed 5 years later by his youngest son Eli, two events which have gone on to have a significant impact on the game of American Football.

Throughout his NFL career, the New York Giants QB Eli Manning has been heavily criticised by many, and spoken in unfavourable terms compared to other QBs, in particular his elder brother. In this author's opinion, that's an unfair reflection on a young player who has simply got better as each year passes. In his first full year with the Giants, 2005, he led them to the divisional title and thus the play-offs, where they were defeated by the Carolina Panthers in the first round.

Another play-off experience for Eli was to follow a year later, although once again it ended abruptly with an early defeat, this time to the Eagles of Philadelphia. After two bitter disappointments pressure began to build on the Giants, none more so than on Manning. After losing against rivals the Dallas Cowboys, the Giants co-owner John Mara wondered out loud whether Manning would ever be capable of leading the Giants to the NFL promised land – the Super Bowl.

As an NFL QB, you are the spearhead of your team's offense, and are regarded as the figurehead of the playing staff, and your salary should reflect this. However, with such privileges come responsibilities. If things go wrong, you are the fall-guy, and the media will target you before any other. Add into consideration the fervour and intensity of the NFL, particularly in New York, and it would have been understandable to have thought that Eli Manning was going to crumble under the spotlight.

However, any doubts Mara or any others had were erased a few months later, as the Giants managed to hold off the previously undefeated New England Patriots 17-14 to win an incredibly eventful Super Bowl XLII. After throwing two crucial TDs (Touchdowns) in the 4th and final quarter of the game, Manning was awarded the MVP (Most Valuable Player) of the game, and took a step towards being seen in the same light as his brother, plying his trade 600 miles to the west of New York. Sadly for Eli however, he'll need to take plenty more steps like that to catch up with the man who is not only his brother, but the greatest QB of his generation.

It's difficult to talk about Peyton Williams Manning without simply listing his achievements earned throughout his majestic NFL career. The QB for the Indianapolis Colts, he is their all-time leader in Career wins, Touchdowns, Completed Passes and Passing Yards. Despite only being 33, he has already been selected for the Pro Bowl team (the NFL all-star game) nine times, and has won the MVP of the NFL season a joint-record three times, tying him with the great Brett Favre. And in case you were beginning to think that little brother Eli had done something Peyton hadn't, think again – he was named the MVP of Super Bowl XLI, the year before his brother repeated the trick.

He may be five years older than his brother, but Peyton shows no signs of slowing down just yet – at the time of writing, the Colts are now standing at 10-0 for the 2009 season, and with the Saints are the proud co-owners of unblemished records so far. How much longer can he dominate? Will he win another MVP, or reach another Super Bowl? Those are difficult questions to answer, however what isn't is the question about Peyton and the NFL Hall of Fame – he may as well try on his suit for his induction speech right now.

With the Colts unbeaten and the Giants 6-4 currently, it's clear that both Mannings are sticking around for a little while longer and are once again aiming to drive their clubs to the play-offs. If they ever bump into him, Colts and Giants fans might be advised to buy Archie Manning a beer.

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