Giants turn to Eli Manning once again with hopes of another Super Bowl run
No doubt there is a Playoff Eli, when he truly turns into SuperMann.
Retaliating against Lawrence Tynes by smearing his car in Vaseline from bumper to bumper — including the windows — that took four hours to remove in return for Tynes letting the air out of his tires and leaving a bicycle pump to fill ’em up? That’s so training camp.
Commandeering the cellphones of teammates and changing their keyboard to Chinese? That’s his signature move but no better than a regular-season prank at best.
The purple shoes fiasco?
Now we’re talking.
Playoff worthy. Super Bowl caliber.
On the day the Giants left for Phoenix nearly nine years ago before Super Bowl XLII, Tom Coughlin held meetings and then a light walkthrough. The players would come off the field, shower and change into their suits and ties and dress shoes, which they had placed in their lockers.
As they left the locker room to head out to the practice field, Manning put his plan into action. He was in postseason mode and taking his game to another level. Sounds familiar?
He had earlier commissioned the Giants equipment staff to buy crummy shoes and paint them purple. They obliged. The shoes were ready to go. Following Manning’s order, they swapped out the dress shoes for the atrocious purple shoes during the walkthrough. He only victimized his offensive linemen, always a QB’s best friends.
When practice was over, the linemen huddled up in the locker room and quickly realized they were the only targets, which narrowed their search for the culprit to only one man.
“It was pretty good,” former Giants center Shaun O’Hara said Thursday. “Luckily for me, I lived right here in Rutherford and texted my fiancé to bring me another pair of dress shoes.”
Chris Snee was able to come up with respectable shoes. Rich Seubert was not so lucky. “He had no shot,” O’Hara said. “He wore size 16. He looked like Bozo The Clown.”
Manning’s ability to be one of the guys has endeared him to his Giants teammates for 13 years, spanning at least two generations of players. They love him. He is the starting quarterback on the All-Pro team of practical jokers.
Eli’s calm demeanor and easy-going personality has helped him transition into Playoff Eli. Nothing bothers him.
Well, almost nothing.
Manning was not happy when O’Hara removed the EZ-Pass from his car on the last day of training camp in Albany, and he went through three toll booths on the way home to Hoboken not realizing he was breaking the law. A few days later, he was complaining in the locker room about getting fined for each violation.
“That was the gift that kept on giving,” O’Hara said.
Seubert is the one teammate who could keep pace with Manning. O’Hara and Manning shared a suite in training camp. Snee, Seubert and David Diehl roomed across the hall. One day when Manning was out, O’Hara gained entry into Manning’s bedroom in the suite.
“Richie kind of liked pulling his pants down and doing things to people’s things,” O’Hara articulated.
In this case, the thing was Manning’s pillow, which was introduced to Seubert’s bare bottom. Four days later, they decided to let Manning in on the joke. “We wanted to let it marinate,” O’Hara said.
“Hey, Eli, if your pillow smells funny, here’s why,” O’Hara said.
He showed him a picture on his phone of Seubert getting up close with Manning’s pillow. Every now and then, O’Hara sends the picture to Manning as a reminder.
One of Manning’s favorite road trip tricks, according to former punter Jeff Feagles, was stocking up on adult toys and putting them in the carry-on bags of teammates.
The look on the faces of the TSA agents?
“Eli is very smart, very sneaky,” Feagles said. “Everything is planned out.”
Manning has put together two of the greatest postseason runs by a quarterback in playoff history. He is 8-0 in two Super Bowl seasons with 15 TDs and two INTs including victories over Tom Brady (twice), Brett Favre, Aaron Rodgers, Tony Romo, Matt Ryan, Alex Smith and Jeff Garcia. He has won two Super Bowl MVPs.
So, does he buy into…