An exciting Giants playoff run again rests on Manning's shoulders

Ernie Accorsi, who changed the modern history of the New York Giants with the trade he made on draft day in 2004 for Eli Manning, was going through a box not long ago, one filled with ticket stubs accumulated across Ernie’s long and truly wonderful football life, all the way back to Unitas. And he came across one from Eli Manning’s junior year, Ole Miss against Auburn. It was the first time Accorsi saw Eli play in person, because Ernie has always said, “You have to see them play in person.”

Everything good, and great, that has happened in this era for the Giants started there. There was the thought at the time that Eli might leave the University of Mississippi early, and Ernie figured he better see him in person. He did. What he saw that day, with his own eyes, was that Eli Manning gave his team a chance, even though Ernie Accorsi didn’t think the sides were even. Ole Miss ended up losing, 31-24. Ernie was sure he had seen a star. The rest is history, the history of two Super Bowls for the Giants with Peyton Manning’s kid brother as their quarterback, two of the most famous Super Bowls ever played.

“He kept bringing them back,” Ernie said Friday.

So when he found that stub, like the talisman of his football life, he took it and stuck it in his wallet and walked around with it for a while. None of what the Giants have become since 2004 happens if Ernie Accorsi, the general manager who succeeded George Young, doesn’t make that trip and sit in the stands in the cold and fall a little bit in love with Manning’s talent and heart and arm.

Now it is 14 years and a month later. The Giants have a big December game against the Lions in Jersey. No. 10 makes another start for the Giants, the way he has been making starts since he became the Giants’ starting quarterback for good. His numbers are down this season, but there are good reasons for that, not excuses. There has been this revolving door of offensive lineman, and there is no running game to speak of and there is no real serious threat except Odell Beckham Jr. among his receivers, mostly because Victor Cruz isn’t close to being what he was when he was young and completely healthy. Eli has gotten hit, a lot, even though they are timing him out at releasing the ball quicker than he ever has.

Somehow, all these years after Ole Miss vs. Auburn, Eli is 35 years old, and closer to the end of his NFL career than the beginning. But we all better appreciate what we are seeing with him. Even if he never takes another snap, he has taken his place with the greatest Giants players of them all, with Lawrence Taylor and Phil Simms and Frank Gifford and Michael Strahan and anybody else you care to mention. He has been that good. Oh, yeah. And that elite in Jersey. We’ll never know how the era plays out if the Giants take Ben Roethlisberger instead.

Ernie Accorsi was impressed the first time he saw Eli Manning play in person, in a game Ole Miss lost.

Ernie Accorsi was impressed the first time he saw Eli Manning play in person, in a game Ole Miss lost.

(Al Bello/Getty Images)

The Giants’ defense, even without Jason-Pierre Paul, is better and more formidable than anyone thought it was going to be, especially early in the season. Even when Eli is under pressure, and even when the defense knows he is looking for Beckham, because so would you, he manages to get the ball to Beckham just enough, the way he did last Sunday night against the Cowboys. And this was the night when Beckham dropped one that would have meant another score.

Does he throw some bad picks? You know he has, you’ve seen them this season, there was a terrible pick deep in Steelers territory the Sunday before last. He’s always thrown bad picks. He’s not Tom Brady. He’s not Aaron Rodgers. But the two times Eli’s team went up against Brady’s in the big game, Eli’s team won. When it was the Giants against Rodgers and the Packers one time in the playoffs, it was Eli who made the throw that changed everything, a Hail Mary to Hakeem Nicks at the end of the first half. He has been as important to the Giants in his time in Jersey as Derek Jeter was to the Yankees. And during Eli’s career in Jersey, the Giants won two Super Bowls when the Yankees were winning just one more Series with Jeter, back in 2009. It is why and how the Giants became the biggest game in town again. He has even managed to help Beckham — who went to the same high school in New Orleans, Newman, that the Manning boys did – be at least a little more calm. We could all use some of Eli’s calm.

It would be nice to see him play behind an offensive line even close to what the Cowboys have. It would be nice to see him have a star tight end one of these days. Would be nice to see him have half the running game that the Cowboys have with the kid, Zeke Elliott.

But in another December in Jersey, the Giants are back in play again and as much of a thrill as Beckham is, as much of a streak of light and wow moment as he is, it still starts and ends with No. 10. “It still has to be him,” Ernie Accorsi said Friday.

With all the differences between the Giants organization and the Jets organization, starting with ownership, the basic difference between them remains exactly the same: They have Eli and the Jets do not. Simple as that. It really did all start with Ole Miss vs. Auburn. It’s why Ernie Accorsi kept the ticket stub, and why it’s in his wallet. Nov. 2, 2002. They sat outside the press box that day, cold as it was, on this little shelf, because there were so many scouts in attendance. He turned out to be the only scout that mattered that day. It turned out Ernie could see just fine. The future, mostly.

Wakey Leaks, Chapman needs to shut it & crazy in Carolina…

– I keep waiting for somebody to blame what everybody is now calling “Wakey Leaks” on Putin.

Only this one, about some B-list Wake Forest radio announcer and former assistant coach sharing plays with the opposition, does seem to have everything except hacking.

From the start, you wondered why anybody would actually need stolen intel to beat this particular Wake Forest football team, but put that to the side for now.

The best part of this turns out to be Louisville’s response, from both its athletic director Tom Jurich, and from the head football coach, Bobby Petrino, whom I’ve always thought should be in a musical.

Of course Petrino ends up skating on this one, with one of the biggest bowl games in the school’s history about to be played, with Louisville’s Heisman Trophy winner in it.

His offensive coordinator is the one who gets punished, even though Jurich says Louisville didn’t use any of the stolen plays.

Got it.

No hacking here.

Just hacks.

– I’m a Carmelo guy now, all in, but somebody needs to tell No. 7 that he needs to dial it down on “must win” games against the Nuggets in December.

Jeff Fisher says he wants to get another head coaching job and come back and coach against the Rams.

Off Fisher’s record with the Rams, the Rams probably can’t wait.

If the Giants beat the Lions on Sunday by a couple of touchdowns, does that mean they’ll have won in a landslide?

I made a list the other day of the most exciting New York athletes we’ve had going all the way back to the 50s, and forgot what it was like to watch Dwight Gooden pitch in the summer of 1985.

No more than 7 images from any single MLB game, workout, activity or event may be used (including online and on apps) while that game, activity or event is in progress.

Aroldis Chapman needs to shut it on Joe Maddon now, whether Maddon should have gotten him out of Game 6 of the World Series earlier or not.

(Elsa/Getty Images)

– I’m happy that Aroldis Chapman is happy to be back with the Yankees, but he needs to shut it on Joe Maddon now, whether Maddon should have gotten him out of Game 6 earlier or not.

Cubs won and so did Chapman, at the end of a season that began with him suspended because of something that happened between him and his girlfriend on Halloween weekend in 2015.

He won, and now he gets paid.

Move on.

– The season for the Jets ends with you asking the same question you’ve asked a lot about them over the years:

Who do you really want to watch on this team?

Who makes you want to keep spending what you have to spend to watch them play?

I have loved watching Joakim Noah play basketball since he played for Billy Donovan at Florida, on a two-time national champ team that was as complete as any college basketball team in recent memory.

So I hope that Noah still has a lot more game than he has shown so far.

Jim Harbaugh.

Rams.

Fake news, started out of nothing, isn’t just limited to politics.

So it goes.

– In a post-factual world, and not just the world of a Presidential election becoming reality TV, here is the sad reality:

People now believe what they want to believe.

If it sounds like something they think might be true, they decide it is true.

The sabotaging of the incoming Democratic governor in North Carolina isn’t just an attack on the Democratic Party in that state.

It’s an attack of political thuggery.

This is what my friend Eddie Gaude, Jr. writes in Time magazine:

“Republicans in North Carolina have revealed their true colors, and they are not red, white and blue. In a brazen act of legislative overreach, they have brought forth and signed legislation to strip the newly elected Democratic governor, Roy Cooper, of a wide range of powers. Their work is to, in effect, nullify the election and turn their backs to democracy.”

Just that.

– It’s early in the young man’s career, and he was on a bad team going up against a defense with very bad men on it Thursday night, but still:

Didn’t you wonder what the Rams saw in Jared Goff that they didn’t see in Carson Wentz?

Here is hoping that the movie “Live by Night” lives up to the novel, written by the great Dennis Lehane, that inspired it.

Mike D’Antoni is one of the good guys, so it’s a good basketball thing that he’s doing as well as he is with the Houston Rockets.

Everything you have seen and heard out of the NBA over the past few days, all the tributes to Craig Sager, tell you everything you know about the man.

A gent for all times.

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Source: NY Daily News Headlines Sports News

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