No, that's not a Darth Vader patch on Eli Manning's uniform

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It turns out that the patch on <a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/nfl/players/6760/" data-ylk="slk:Eli Manning">Eli Manning</a>’s jersey represents Walter Payton, not the <span>supreme commander of Imperial Forces</span>. (Getty)
It turns out that the patch on Eli Manning’s jersey represents Walter Payton, not the supreme commander of Imperial Forces. (Getty)

If you’re like us and tuned in to Sunday night’s NFL matchup between the Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants, you might have been wondering why Eli Manning was wearing a Darth Vader patch on his uniform.

We certainly were. So we did some digging.

That’s Walter Payton, not Darth Vader

Sadly, it turns out that it’s actually not a Darth Vader patch on the front of Manning’s uniform over his left shoulder. It’s a patch to designate the NFL Walter Payton Man of the Year honor he won in 2016 alongside Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald.

The designation is given to a player “for his excellence on and off the field,” according to the NFL. It has been awarded since 1970 and was renamed for Bears great Payton in 1999.

Drew Brees, J.J. Watt also sporting patch

Manning is not the only player sporting the patch. Fitzgerald, J.J. Watt and Drew Brees are among the recipients of the honor wearing the patch, which is a new addition to uniforms this season.

It’s a nice honor and one worthy of noting on players’ uniforms. Why the NFL chose a caped silhouette that resembles the supreme commander of Imperial Forces more than the iconic Bears running back remains a mystery. 

Even up close, one could be forgiven for thinking that might actually be Lord Vader.

At least now we know that the Giants have not, in fact, aligned themselves with the Galactic Empire.

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