Eli Manning stays on the high road

Mike Florio
ProFootball Talk on NBC Sports

Unexpected storylines emerge all the time in the NFL. For Week Two, the lingering talking points came from Ezekiel Elliott going too easy after a turnover — and from Ben McAdoo going too hard on Eli Manning.

McAdoo continues to absorb criticism for singling out Eli for criticism after an ugly loss in which there was plenty of blame to go around. To his credit, Eli continues to reside on the high road. Following radio comments on Tuesday that amounted to a shrug of the shoulders, Eli once again brushed off the criticism in his weekly Wednesday press conference.

It’s part of being in the NFL,” Manning said, via Tara Sullivan of the Record. “You can’t be sensitive and I think everyone’s gotten very sensitive — players and everybody. If someone says anything negative about you, or you did something wrong, then you’ve got a problem. Coach McAdoo and I have a great relationship. I think he understands that — I told him when he first got here. I enjoy being coached, if I screw something up, let me know. I want to be coached, so we talked about things and there’s some things I’ve got to do that I’ve got to do better at.”

Bravo, Eli. But, still, booooooooo, Brylcreem Ben.

Being coached is different from being called out publicly. As former NFL receiver Chad Johnson explained on PFT Live at Super Bowl LI, Patriots coach Bill Belichick ripped into quarterback Tom Brady during the first team meeting of the year for his performance in the playoff loss that ended the prior season. But Belichick has never criticized Brady publicly.

Really, which franchise quarterback ever has been criticized publicly by his coach?

“You can’t be sensitive and I think everyone’s gotten very sensitive — players and everybody,” Eli said. Eli knows sensitive well; his big brother Peyton has bigger rabbit ears than anyone when it comes to actual or perceived verbal slights from teammates, coaches, anyone.

Actually, Peyton may be one of the reasons why Eli isn’t sensitive. Growing up as Peyton’s younger brother can desensitize a guy.

“[Peyton] would pin me down, you know, put his knees on my arms,” Eli told PFT Live at Super Bowl 50. “He’d just start knocking on my chest until I named at the time the 28 teams in the NFL. So I got smart eventually I could rip those off pretty quickly. We went college divisions, different things and then if he just wanted to make me cry he’d say, ‘Name ten brands of cigarettes.’ I’m like, ‘I’m seven years old I haven’t started smoking cigarettes quite yet,’ but that’s when I’d just start yelling for mom.”

In comparison, getting called out for “sloppy quarterback play” by McAdoo is a breeze.

It still doesn’t make it right. But Eli, intentional or not, emerges as the victor in this, with McAdoo looking petty and incompetent. As if the performance of McAdoo’s offense over the past eight games dating back to 2016 didn’t already make him look incompetent enough.

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