You Are God's Best Idea! Daily Epigram for:
February 6, 2012
"Believe in those who are in unbelievable circumstances. Be
your brother's believer."-Douglas Holzmeier
When I wrote this – it was the day after the New York Giants won the Super Bowl for the second time in four years. The quarterback of the Giants is Eli Manning. Eli is not following the script others had supposed for him. Eli Manning leading his team to two NFL Superbowl Championships is like Fredo Corleone becoming the Godfather.
Eli Manning is the younger brother of Peyton Manning and a son of Archie Manning. Archie was an All-American and Heisman Trophy candidate at Ole Miss in 1969 and 1970. So beloved is Archie Manning that the speed limit on the Ole Miss campus is 18 miles an hour in honor of the #18 Archie wore. The elder Manning was the second player drafted in 1971 and played QB in the NFL for 14 seasons – twice earning All-Pro status – but never coming close to winning – or even playing on a Super Bowl Sunday.
Peyton Manning was the #1 most recruited high school quarterback in America in 1993. Every big time college program offered him a scholarship. Peyton was a Blue Chip. A can’t miss – and he did not disappoint. Manning threw for over 11,000 yards in his four-year career at Tennessee. He was a model citizen and an All-American. He won almost all the coveted collegiate awards except the Heisman – finishing as the runner-up in 1997. He was the 1998 NFL #1 draft choice going to the Indianapolis Colts. He has had a Hall of Fame caliber career with the Colts – being named to the Pro Bowl 11 times and throwing for nearly 55,000 yards! When he is done – he may very well own every quarterback record. In 2006 - Peyton Manning led the Colts to the Super Bowl – beating the Chicago Bears. None of Peyton’s success has been unbelievable.
When Eli Manning was a high school senior – the nation did not come calling – not even his brother Peyton’s Tennessee Volunteers. Despite the famous lineage – Eli was not seen as a future All-American. He did not have the rocket arm and pin-point accuracy of Peyton or the ability to scramble and run like father Archie. Eli was not all that different than 100 other pocket-passing quarterbacks playing high school football in the fall of 1999. Even with the Manning name and all that comes with it – Eli was seen as a second-tier prospect. There has never been much expected from Eli Manning – which is why – even after becoming an All-American at Ole Miss – being the #1 player taken in the 2004 NFL Draft – and winning a Super Bowl Championship in 2007 with the Giants – very few of the television pundits were picking the Giants to beat the celebrated Tom Brady led Patriots yesterday in the stadium brother Peyton built – Lucas Field in Indianapolis. Yet – as he has a thousand times before – he disappointed - his critics!
You see – Eli Manning is not supposed to be at the head of the NFL class – or any other class for that matter. Manning's motivation to constantly improve - is rooted in the academic struggles he had as a boy. Manning had trouble reading. He was tested for learning disabilities and attended a school for specialized teaching for five years – second through sixth grade. It took him five years to catch up to the kids who didn’t have a famous last name. Imagine how much more determination is behind rising up to exceed the accomplishments of two of the best NFL quarterbacks of all time in father Archie and brother Peyton? Of course – these are the same two who are Eli’s best fans and biggest believers.
In the summer of 2008 - after the first Super Bowl win - Eli was quoted as saying: "When you start feeling content or feel like you've got it figured out, that's when something usually happens to put you back in your place. It's part of growing up. It's struggling and working your way through it with hard work and dedication.”
I have no doubt that the love and encouragement of the Manning family has played a large role in Eli’s success. But it was Ely who has made two of the most famous pass completions in Super Bowl history. To be in that position - Eli had to believe he could pass his way from a 2nd grade demotion to a first class ticket to Disneyland!.
There was a time in Eli Manning’s life when he was called a dumb jock. It was unfair and not true- but the Dunce Cap might have been as easy to strap on as his helmet – if he chose to accept the conclusions of a few who thought they knew better.
The NFL administers a cognitive test to draft eligible players. It is called the Wonderlic Test. The highest possible score is a 50. Most players get marks under 25. Tom Brady posted a 33. Peyton Manning produced a 28. Eli scored – a 39! Not bad for a kid who refused to be held back. Can you believe it? Brother – I do!!
You Are God's Best Idea!
Author of You Are God's Best Idea! Divine Acceptations and Living the Undeniable Life! (Balboa Press/Hay House)
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