Saturday, February 18, 2012

A Quarterback We Can All Admire With No Exceptions

Eli Manning, the quarterback of the latest Super Bowl victors, the New York Giants, completed a two day victory (and promotional) tour of the country with an appearance on David Letterman’s Late Night Show. Manning comes from a storied football family, the son of Heisman Trophy winner Archie Manning, and brother of Peyton Manning, who guided the Indianapolis (nee Baltimore) Colts to a Super Bowl victory as well.

One might expect an enormous ego from the wearer of a Super Bowl ring, particularly from the team’s victorious quarterback. But Eli is a refreshing exception to that rule. Manning’s conversation with Letterman centered on his teammates and his family. He is a master at self-deprecating humor. The boyish, good looking Manning was asked by Letterman “'How old are you, really?' He answered, 'Don't tell anyone: 14'" adding "I started to shave, you know, this past year."

How different that approach is from the behavior of fellow quarterback Tim Tebow. Manning does not credit the victory of his corporate sports team to some deity that apparently favors his team and his personal performance. He does not thank his “personal lord and savior” for his performances as if real lords or saviors could belong to any individual. And he does not create spectacles in the end zone after touchdowns or engage in cheap proselytizing with the anti-glare paint under his eyes.

Most of all, he does not abuse the public forum by running out his religion on others whether they wish to hear it or not. Indeed, it’s difficult to find anything on the web that discusses Eli’s religion (or perhaps lack thereof) at all though a couple of question/answer sites suggest he is Christian with both Methodist and Presbyterian listed as his denomination. Of course, you can also find sites which suggest he is a Satanist. Go figure.

When it comes to the Franciscan teaching of preaching the gospel at all times, using words only when necessary, Eli’s gospel compares favorably with the work of Tim Tebow. Manning was heavily involved with the efforts to bring aid to his native New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina ravaged the city in 2005. He also spearheaded fundraising for a $2.5 million facility at the Blair Batson Hospital for Children and contributes to the Red Cross, the St. Francis House Food Pantry in NYC and the Phoenix House addictions recovery program. That’s a pretty impressive track record for good works that mean good news for many in need of it.
While I didn’t have a lot invested in either team in the Super Bowl and actually went to bed just prior to the Giants’ last minute comeback victory, I did enjoy watching the clip from the Letterman show with Eli Manning. It’s refreshing to see a professional athlete who is able to enjoy a little humor at his own expense. And it’s a relief to see a successful athlete who doesn’t feel the need to engage in what appears to most observers as a thinly disguised egoism in thanking the gods for his success.

The clip prompted me to write the following little quip which I sent out with the link to the excerpt:

Dear Timmy,

This is how you engage in self-deprecating humor in an appropriate venue. You don’t have to
invoke the gods or misuse the post-game show for proselytizing.

You might take a lesson.


The Super Bowl

p.s. Chances are that Eli probably believes the same things you do about religion given his background. It’s really not necessary to be a boor just because you’re a person a faith.

The Rev. Harry Scott Coverston, J.D., Ph.D.
Member, Florida Bar (inactive status)
Priest, Episcopal Church (Dio. of El Camino Real, CA)
Instructor: Humanities, Religion, Philosophy of Law
University of Central Florida, Orlando

If the unexamined life is not worth living, surely an unexamined belief system, be it religious or political, is not worth holding.
Most things of value do not lend themselves to production in sound bytes. ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++