December 19, 2004

"Giants Stadium, on this afternoon of Eli Manning's debut, is Plato's Cave. The millions of people watching the game are inside the cave, staring at shadows on the wall.: The shadows are distortions of the reality outside the cave, treated, erroneously, as the thing itself. No matter how he plays, some part of Eli Manning's game, like his personality, will remain hidden from public understanding. It may be a trivial part; it may be the telling part -- the point is that no one can know for sure if the Giants have given their money to the right guy."

Michael Lewis on Eli Manning, in the NYT Sunday Magazine.

posted by yerfatma to football at 02:01 PM - 24 comments

He has watched his antic brother a million times. ''Have you seen anything you hadn't noticed before from watching him?'' I asked. Eli thought about it. ''He complains a lot,'' he said finally. This forced me to rethink Eli. The draft fiasco really left a bad taste in my mouth, but I hadn't seen or heard much since then. Usually I see just a two-second shot of his smiling mug while I walk past a TV, and this could be the first article I've read that's actually quoted him. Great article, yerfatma. Thanks for posting.

posted by rocketman at 03:27 PM on December 19, 2004

I'm still wondering about the draft day deal between NYG and SDC. Why did the Bolts want Rivers? I realize that Brees is having his best year now, so this is a bit of 20/20 hindsight, but between him and Flutie wouldn't they have been better off with Robert Gallery or, still making the trade, Larry Fitzgerald?

posted by billsaysthis at 03:50 PM on December 19, 2004

Very interesting article.....I definitely enjoy Lewis' writing style.

posted by smithers at 05:54 PM on December 19, 2004

Ha ha, I don't think that guy understands Plato's metaphor.

posted by molafson at 08:04 PM on December 19, 2004

Metaphors aside, it was a good read. I'm in the same camp as rocketman on this one.

posted by DrJohnEvans at 08:27 PM on December 19, 2004

I don't think that guy understands Plato's metaphor. How so? His use seems to match my understanding.

posted by yerfatma at 06:30 AM on December 20, 2004

Great piece. I thought it would be terrible, based on that overwrought Plato quote, but it was well worth the read. But how does Michael Lewis write a piece on Ernie Accorsi, hunting for magic in the form of another Johnny Unitas, without scorn? He makes Accorsi sound like Grady Fuson, one of the villains in his book Moneyball who eschewed statistical analysis in favor of gut instincts, enabling the new execs like Billy Beane to eat their lunch year after year. Is Lewis suggesting that numbers don't apply to the NFL?

posted by rcade at 08:40 AM on December 20, 2004

Is Lewis suggesting that numbers don't apply to the NFL? I don't know if he's exactly saying that, but he does say that current football stats are useless because there are no discrete events in football. I dunno if he's seen the Football Outsiders stats, but I think his contention is there are no useful, publicly-available metrics he knows of/ anyone would tell him about.

posted by yerfatma at 09:14 AM on December 20, 2004

Saturday was my first chance to see more than a few highlights (lowlights?) of Eli's play to date, and I had three observations: 1) The Giants are going to be good next year. 2) Eli looks like a teenager. 3) GO STEELERS!!! ;)

posted by scully at 10:15 AM on December 20, 2004

Is Lewis suggesting that numbers don't apply to the NFL? I don't think so. I prefer to think of the article in the same spirit as Moneyball, asking the question "How do we make sense of this stuff? When it comes to quarterbacks/hitters/relief pitchers/etc., what are the important factors to consider?" Just as Lewis showed in Moneyball that five-tool players weren't shoe-ins to the major leagues, here he's showing that quarterbacks don't always have to be gregarious jock-tards. He's exploring the mentality and psychology of big-league success. Fascinating.

posted by rocketman at 10:25 AM on December 20, 2004

I wonder what brain type Eli is?

posted by Mike McD at 11:15 AM on December 20, 2004

Speaking of Football Outsiders... While moonlighting at ESPN Page 2, Aaron Schatz paints a pretty grim picture with Eli's stats. But,I'm not willing to buy into any of these if only because of the competition he has faced. He's had the pleasure of facing PHI, ATL, WAS, BAL and PIT...think about that, except for ATL those are 4 of the best D's in the league . Philly is just cruel for a rookie QB to face. Maybe the Giants can swap out Cincy next week for the Patriots and really rub it in. It seems that everyone wants to pile it on with Eli, it doesn't take a whole lot of looking to find negative press about his future. I hope next week against a weak defense he can look even better than he did this week, but the Giants have a lot to do to turn him into a winner. No outside of Tiki Barber is helping him make the plays and the O-line and Recievers are probably making it worse. Without the supporting cast on offense he'll continue to suffer, although next year will be improved. Great article, nice to hear positive spin and someone trying to separate him from his brother and father...I think he deserves the right to be his own player.

posted by YukonGold at 01:40 PM on December 20, 2004

Good article, I always enjoy the Michael Lewis treatment. And also I am now officially rooting for Eli, he really sounds like a class kid.

posted by vito90 at 02:01 PM on December 20, 2004

As for San Diego taking Rivers, Brees *did* look like a total bust the last few years... kinda shocking his performance this year, to say the least.

posted by sashae at 02:06 PM on December 20, 2004

if anyone wants to hear more from eli, he calls in to espnradio every monday at 5pm. (unfortunately you have to suffer through wally and the keeg) when the whole draft fiasco happened i was bit skeptical about eli coming here. but after hearing him a few times this season he sounds like a good kid, not the pompous ass i expected him to be. when warner was starting, manning always seemed eager to get in and disappointed when he didn't play but he never implied that he should be starting. and when he did get in and things went bad he was careful not to place to blame on anyone else (from what i've heard anyway). i don't think the beatings he's taken in the past few weeks are going to scar him as much as the local sportswriters think (or hope?) it will.

posted by goddam at 02:39 PM on December 20, 2004

I'm a Redskins fan and I've already had to talk a good bunch of Giants fans in from the ledge regarding Eli. Trust me, the kid will be fine. As YukonGold points out, no one is helping him. Amani Toomer has been outright robbing the Giants organization of paychecks for the last eight weeks or so. The first game he played, I told a buddy that the Giants needed to do one thing for Eli... They needed to not fall behind early. They promptly did and then the rookie starts pressing. He knows before long that he has to do something and then it's time for mis-reads, happy-feet, and pick-city. This week, the Giants get a kick return and go up early. Suddenly, Manning looks like he might be able to QB in the league. It's little things like this that can make a difference, but get lost in the hoopla and hollering about a 1st overall pick in the Big Apple. Let him play a while (say 15-20 games, rather than 5) before you judge him a bust. I have a feeling he'll be an All-Pro before all is said and done.

posted by 86 at 03:05 PM on December 20, 2004

There's a big problem with waiting 15-20 games to judge whether a rookie QB is a bust. Give any NFL coach other than Bill Cowher a bad 20-game stretch, and he's in win-now-or-else mode. If the rookie is another Ryan Leaf, the coach is back at square one again and has squandered a lot of fan goodwill.

posted by rcade at 03:40 PM on December 20, 2004

Think Troy Aikman. Not Peyton. That's the game I'm playing.

posted by YukonGold at 03:41 PM on December 20, 2004

How so? His use seems to match my understanding. It's been a while... however, in Plato's metaphor the shadows on the wall are reality (as humans experience it), whereas the things creating the shadows/reality are the universal forms or ideals. I don't see WTF that has to do with football though.

posted by molafson at 05:11 PM on December 20, 2004

Lewis uses the metaphor to suggest the game we see on TV is the shadow version, whereas the real game can only be understood by watching the simple overhead camera shot of the eleven-on-eleven game that casts a shadow onto our TVs.

posted by yerfatma at 05:40 PM on December 20, 2004

Nothing in this excellently written article convinced me to change my position on him. Eli might wind up all-world, he might go to the Hall of Fame, but it'll take more than a puff piece to give me a reason to put his draft-day shenanigans out of my mind whenever I see him heave the ball into the tenth row (or into a DB's waiting hands, whichever). Harsh? Maybe. But he chose the family business, he chose to fuck the Chargers, and he chose to come to New York, so I don't feel he deserves any more of a break than he's already been given.

posted by chicobangs at 12:43 PM on December 22, 2004

t'll take more than a puff piece . . . whenever I see him heave the ball into the tenth row (or into a DB's waiting hands, whichever). You did read the thing, right?

posted by yerfatma at 03:23 PM on December 22, 2004

he chose to fuck the Chargers I think the Chargers are doing just fine, with the division championship in hand and the Giants first round pick for 2005. Given where they are you could say Eli did the franchise a favor.

posted by YukonGold at 07:29 AM on December 23, 2004

Oh, come on, YukonGold. Take your hindsight glasses off, and hold a straight face while you tell me how you knew on draft day how well San Diego was going to do. No one, even inside the Chargers organization, would have predicted the Bolts would have won 11 games the next two seasons, let alone this year.

posted by chicobangs at 11:08 AM on December 25, 2004

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