New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning's credentials as a winner in the clutch (to join two severely overcooked concepts) are without question. Not only has Manning the Younger bagged two Super Bowl rings in the last five NFL seasons, he did so as the gunner in two of the most memorable catches in NFL history -- David Tyree's helmet catch over Rodney Harrison's head in the Super Bowl XLII win over the New England Patriots, and Mario Manningham's sideline catch of Manning's unbelievable throw in the Super Bowl XLVI win over those very same Patriots.
(Note to the Pats: Whenever Eli throws deep, you may want to consider getting a few extra guys on the field; 14 or 15, maybe.)
So, it was only natural that when Eli did the infamous ESPN "Car Wash" on Friday, his media tour would include several questions about how best to assemble his available skills when it counts the most. And since we're talking about ESPN here, no discussion of winning and clutch playing would be complete without an overanalysis of Miami Heat star LeBron James, whose various postseason issues -- both real and fabricated -- have become the Worldwide Leader's primary meme, especially in the hands of (you'll pardon the expression) Skip Bayless and Stephen A. Smith.
Manning went on "SportsCenter" and "Mike and Mike in the Morning," and he was asked if he had any specific advice for LeBron, now that the Heat are in the thick of the NBA Finals, facing off against the Team I Will Not Name Because I Live In Seattle.
"You can see that with LeBron and what's going on in the NBA Finals, [when] you lose one game they are all over [him], they win the second game, everybody loves him," Manning told the main perpetrators of such reactionary nonsense. "Each week, depending [on] every game, you are either the best or you are terrible. It is so extreme.
"The most important thing you can do is concentrate on being prepared for each game, being mentally strong, having the confidence in yourself that you are going to go out there and make all the plays, and when you are put in that position, you try to do it."
Relatively easy for Manning to say, because he's been through the hard parts. He had to live up to the name of two NFL precedents in his own family (dad Archie and big brother Peyton), which made the inevitable growth process every quarterback faces in the NFL that much more difficult. LeBron should listen, though, because if there's anyone who knows how to tune out the B.S., it's Manning.
"Usually the talk on TV and in the papers is what you are doing wrong," Manning said. "If you are not making the headlines, I take that as a positive thing. So it has been the way I like it and the way I want it. Just going about my business working hard getting ready for the season."
So ... yeah, It doesn't even bother Manning that all the talk about New York quarterbacks this offseason has centered around Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow, two guys who haven't accomplished half of what he has, and wouldn't match up even if you somehow combined them into one super-huge overrated quarterback.
"I think the thing I have learned being in New York and going into my ninth year is that when they are not talking about you, it is probably a good thing, especially in the offseason," Manning said. "If there is a lot of talk, that means people are on your case."
There it is, LeBron -- learn it, know it, live it. Take care of your business, rise up when you're most needed, and run through the circus with blinders on. If it worked for Eli, it can work for you.
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