NY Giants’ Eli Manning Faces the Patriots in the Super Bowl Again

INDIANAPOLIS—While it's easy to pick fun at the awkward youngest of the Manning family, Elisha Nelson Manning, there's much that can't be ignored, either.

While it's fun for all outside of NYC to do, it's not something Eli isn't used to. Growing up, the oldest of the three boys in the family—the head honcho— Peyton Manning, would pick on Eli, leaving Eli at the mercy of the protection of their middle brother, Cooper.

Until not too long ago, Eli was at the bottom of the Manning pecking order.

Coming into the league, no one saw a career like this for Manning. But, since that time, he has compiled over 27-thousand yards, for 129 touchdowns, two Pro Bowl selections, and two Super Bowl appearances in eight years.

The first of those appearances came in 2008, when the New York Giants knocked off the mighty New England Patriots 17-14. Eli was named MVP of that Super Bowl.

It was then, it seemed, Eli had the whole country pulling for him to pull out that last drive to slay the villainous Tom Brady, Bill Belichick and the Patriots. He did so in historical fashion. A miracle catch, a miracle missed interception by, then Patriot cornerback, Asante Samuel, and a fade pattern to Plaxico Burress was all it took to get the job done.

After the hype died down; after David Tyree faded to black; after Plaxico shot himself in the leg, it was back to the same old, same old.

Eli Manning received minimal respect.

He was still only Peyton's little brother.

The next season, people like me, continued to get on Manning saying he was nothing but a fluke, despite his throwing for a, then, career best 4021 yards and 27 touchdowns. To me, still, he seemed too little-brotherish. He could be thrown around and discouraged easily.

In my personal opinion, he looked like that kid who had to run to the middle brother to be protected by his older brother again, and of course, that's not how it works in the NFL. A good blitz game could usually rattle little Elisha Nelson.

Some still look to the 2008 Super Bowl and argue the miracle catch by Tyree and dropped interception by Samuel could have closed this argument down back then—but, I say it's not that simple. You can say the same about Troy Aikman in Super Bowl XXX. In that 27-17 win, Aikman threw for 209 yards and had a QB rating of 108.

Aikman threw a 47 yard pass to Deion Sanders, a couple 20 yarders to both Michael Irvin and Jay Novacek, in a few drives that lead to two Emmitt Smith goal line touchdowns. But, most will say, if it weren't for Cowboys cornerback, Larry Brown, with his 2 interceptions in the 2nd half, there's a chance it couldn't have been what it is.

There's always that possibility. Those two Brown interceptions turned into 14 second half points for Dallas which proved to be the difference.

In Philadelphia, the argument is, "Donovan McNabb didn't have what it took to get it done." So, logically, if that's the belief, there's no way to turn around and discredit Eli's body of work.

This year, Manning is coming into this Super Bowl, facing the same team he did in 2008. The only difference is, he's playing a weaker defense than before. Despite the team's record, and struggle to get in the postseason, Eli himself, like the 2007-'08 season, is having a career year with almost 5000 yards passed, and 29 touchdowns.

On Sunday, I will still make "little brother" and "Elisha face" jokes because, one: it's fun to do and, two: he's a division-rival quarterback, and three: hey, he's a little brother—that's what they're here for. But, make no mistake, I will not discredit his body of work.

He has lead his team to another big game.

This game on Sunday is a game that will force naysayers to take another look at Eli Manning and reconsider.

Or decide, they're just going to hate. To each, his own.

Vincent Heck is a life-long resident of the Philadelphia area, and a featured 'Fan View' blogger on Yahoo! Sports. Follow him on Twitter: @HeckPhilly

Email Vincent at: vheckphilly@yahoo.com

Follow Yahoo! Local's Yahoo! Philly on Twitter: @YahooPhilly

View Vincent Heck's article archive.

Source: Pro-Football-reference.com, JockBio, NFL.com

Note: This article was written by a Yahoo! contributor. Sign up here to start publishing your own sports content.

Vincent E Heck Jr is a member of the Yahoo! Contributor Network.
Updated Tuesday, Jan 31, 2012