Father knows that son knows best

As hard a concept as it is to grasp, when Eli Manning calls home to speak to his father, former NFL star Archie, the two men talk about everything under the sun. Except, for the most part, football, that is. <BR><BR>

The eldest Manning took time out recently from his New Orleans office to speak with TGI about his famous son, who, after throwing nine passes opening day in Philadelphia did not enter the contest as New York won its home opener over Washington.

"The only thing I tell him is just to try to get better every day and try to learn something every day," Manning said. "He needs to help Kurt (Warner) out, be a good teammate and always be ready.

"I don't give him a lot of advice. He knows what to do. If he really needs some football advice, he has someone real close to him that knows a lot more than I do – his brother (Peyton). I don't really do much football advice; I might do some daddy advice from time to time. We're not into a whole lot of advice."

So it goes for football's first family. Lots of communication, but very little about Eli's trade, which earned him a whopping $45 million contract to play for the Giants.

"Eli's good about calling his mother and calling me and his brothers," Archie said. "We all talk a lot."

Just not about football.

Eli Manning's goal of starting from the opening snap fell by the wayside once Tom Coughlin named Kurt Warner, who has held up very well through the season's early going, the starter.

Archie said his son handled Coughlin's decision very well.

"He's fine," he said. "One thing about Eli – he doesn't have a whole lot of mood changes or anything. It sounds like to me he's working hard and preparing. He doesn't go high and low too much. That's probably a pretty good way to be for a New York quarterback, from what I hear. "He's real happy. He sure seems to like his coaches, his teammates and the area. He likes New York, and he seems real happy to us."

Manning said his son's work ethic is what's gotten him this far.

"His hard work sets him apart," he said. "Eli always worked very, very hard. He certainly wasn't the fastest or the biggest. He really just worked real hard when he got to college, especially to get himself bigger and stronger."

Archie believes that his son's experience having to wait his turn at Ole Miss actually helped out in the long run. And figures the same could be the case in New York.

"He had a redshirt year and a backup year," he said. "He pretty much knew he was going to take over. He wanted to be prepared when that time came. It's somewhat comparable to what he's going through now. This is like a redshirt year or a backup year. He worked extremely hard to be ready when it was his turn, and he was. He played at a high level from his first game. That was a good experience for him, just like what he's going through now. I think he'll try to do the same thing."

Although Archie received something of a bad rap before the draft for his perceived involvement in Eli's decision against playing for the Chargers, he has no advice for the Giants coaching staff.

"It can't hurt Eli to be close to a player like Kurt Warner," he said. "I don't say it's better to start; I don't say it's better to sit. My theory is that the best way is what the coach and the organization think is the best way. Every situation like that is different. The coaches there – Coughlin, Kevin Gilbride and John Hufnagel – know. They're there every day and every play. They know what's best."

What all the Mannings think is best for Eli is to be seen and not heard while he grows into his role as New York's starting quarterback. He's been extremely quiet and borderline shy in front of the notebooks and cameras to this point. Archie says that once Eli gets his turn under center, you'll see more of his personality come out.

"He's a rookie," he said. "He feels like a rookie, and that a rookie has his place, which is not in front of the media all the time. When his day comes, he'll give everyone something to write. "He's in a rookie mode, if you will. You'll find out that Eli has a good sense of humor and that he's a fun-loving guy. He's pretty well-rounded."

Which should work very well in the tri-state area, where, according to Archie, his son really enjoys living.

"He seems to really like the New York area," he said. "It's not like he's in the city every day. He's been to New York through the years some, and he's always liked it. He liked being up there this summer. He's really happy. He really likes where he is."

Archie has yet to make it to Giants Stadium for one of his son's games, primarily because he broadcast all the Saints preseason games. But he plans to make it up for New York's next home contest – Oct. 24 vs. Detroit.

"My wife's (Olivia) been up a couple of times," he said. "We plan to come up for the Detroit game. We'll be coming in that weekend."

Mr. and Mrs. Manning were on hand in Philadelphia to watch as their son absorbed the hit of his life from Eagles DE Jerome McDougle.

"I was kind of anxious to see if he was going to get up," Archie recalled. "My wife's fingernails were digging into my thigh."

The worried parents could exhale following the game.

"We waited around and saw him before he got on the bus and he seemed like he was all right," Archie said. "Peyton said that if he can take that lick, he might hang around a while."


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