By Maury Jackson, For the African-African American Athlete,
This NFL season has been filled with injuries, benchings, and surprising QB play. Perhaps the most essential position for team success in all of sports, the quarterback position is one that requires lots of responsibility and consistency.
Over the past few weeks, there has been one quarterback benching that has sent shockwaves across the league, and that benching was New York Giants Eli Manning.
Last weekend, just a week after Manning’s benching, he was inserted back into the starting position, and welcomed by the cheers of thousands at Giants stadium.
The Giants fired head coach Ben McAdoo and general manager Jerry Reese just days after the benching of the two-time Super Bowl Champion, and he was back as the starter this week. What many deemed as an inappropriate and insensitive benching, does not take away the fact of the team’s continuous struggles.
Against an Ezekiel Elliot-less Cowboys, the Giants failed to generate any sort of consistent offense, losing 30-10.
Now it’s understandable what Eli has meant to this franchise and to New York over the years. Yet and still, the struggles of the Giants over the past several years have only left the question: Is Eli Manning getting a pass?
If it were practically any other quarterback, would Manning have been benched earlier? If this were Cam Newton, Russell Wilson, or Colin Kaepernick, would they have kept the starting position as long as Eli?
One of those QBs doesn’t have a job in the NFL at all, but that is another discussion for another day. One thing is for sure, a collection of things has led to Eli Manning getting this ‘pass’.
For starters, Eli does not have the very aggressive, snarky quarterback personality that many signal callers have in the league. He is looked at more as a shy, good-guy, from the All-American Manning family, who has done so much for the New York Giants.
As a result, he has more leeway when he does not play well, or things do not go his way.
With their last Super Bowl win coming in the 2011-2012 season against the Patriots, the Giants have not lived up to expectations. The following five seasons. 9-7, 7-9, 6-10, 6-10, and 11-5 are the records following that Super Bowl year.
And now, they have only hit rock-bottom, standing at 2-10.
Yes, the Giants lost Odell Beckman Jr., this season. Yes, the Giants have failed to fix their O-line issues for years now. And yes, the Giants have failed to find a consistent running game yet again.
But why is it that Eli continues to get a pass year after year?
The main argument is that he brought two Super Bowls to New York. However, consistency is something that is also demanded at the quarterback position. Take Donovan McNabb for example. He took the Eagles to five NFC Championships, and a Super Bowl appearance.
Sure, at the end of the day he never got it done, but the consistency he brought to the table directly affected the consistent play of the Eagles. After a string of bad games and a terrible first half against the Ravens in 2008, Donovan was then benched for the second half. There was no sympathy for McNabb, despite the previous success.
In order to remain the starting quarterback, McNabb had to play well, and earn it no matter what success he had in the past. He then proved to do that, throwing for over 400-yards in the thrashing of the Cardinals on Thanksgiving Day in 2008.
Ever since the second Super Bowl win, Eli has continuously thrown about 14 or more interceptions each year, with a league leading 27 INT in 2013. He should never have those kinds of interception problems.
Eli has had the chance to have guys like Brandon Jacobs, Victor Cruz, and Odell on offense. Eli has not suffered any long-term or career threatening, injuries that would have affected his performance severely.
Maybe it’s his personality, or maybe it is the fact that he is the younger brother of NFL legend Peyton Manning. Perhaps it’s the fact that he won two Super Bowls.
Or, maybe, Eli Manning gets the impact of white privilege in sports, particularly at the QB position