Sometimes I wonder if there is any point in getting mad about apunk like Eli Manning. The problem is that I can’t helpmyself.
I don’t think there is such a thing as coincidence. Closeto the arrival of the NFL Draft two stories came out that puzzledme: 1) Pat Tillman, former cornerback for the Arizona Cardinals,died during armed combat in Afghanistan. 2) Eli Manning, awet-behind-the-ears quarterback graduating from Ole’Miss anda son and brother to NFL quarterbacks, let it be known that hewould refuse to play for the wretched San Diego Chargers if theychose him with the top pick in the draft.
These two extremes showcase the difference between altruism andegotism, and they are a testament to the occasional wackiness ofAmerican life.
One man looks within himself for a deeper meaning to life andtakes the high road at the expense of fortune and life. The otherbullies and whines his way out of a losing team in order to avoidgetting splattered with dirt for years on end.
Are these two individuals from the same planet? Are they of thesame gender?
If maturity is to be gauged by the involvement of altruism inone’s decision-making process then Eli is the equivalent of agnat to Tillman’s kingly actions.
There are some that feel that this is all due to the sins of thefather, Archie Manning. There is some truth to that. Back whenPeyton, his first born son, was about to graduate from high schooland most universities were vying for his commitment, Archie toldSteve Spurrier that Peyton was not interested in playing for theGators because Danny Wuerffel still had two more years ofeligibility and Payton needed to be assured of the possibility ofplaying right away. So off he went to Tennessee.
It makes sense for a father to do his best to prevent his sonsfrom suffering the ignominies of his past. It is natural for allfathers to look out for the best interest of their progeny. That isnormal.
What the Mannings did is another thing altogether, it is simplyegocentric and arrogant. Archie is guilty of trying to relive hispast vicariously through his sons and they are guilty of consentingto his desires and grand schemes.
Without getting too serious about the NFL and their silly draft,it must be said that the Mannings’ stance is an affront totwo kinds of people: those who understand that playing a game for aliving is insignificant in the grand scheme of things and those whodepend on this game as a means to leave dire poverty.
The second group is more desperate than the first and, asexemplified by Pat Tillman, the first is the most noble of themall.
To the Manning family, playing in the NFL is something else; itis about myth making. They also see it as their birthright.
When he was finally traded to the N.Y. Giants, after initiallybeing picked by the Chargers, his mother asked Eli what she shoulddo with his Chargers jersey and he told her to keep it because”it might be a collector’s item someday.”
I wonder which of the two Manning boys will be the first tovolunteer to fight in Iraq. I bet Archie gets him a position asGeneral.