This is an article from the July 18, 2011 issue
The Giants QB has been busy this off-season. Manning led team workouts, played a cop in DIRECTV commercials and became a father.
Dan Patrick: What impact will the lockout have on young players?
Eli Manning: That's one of my biggest concerns. Even the guys who are going into their second year, they're missing a full spring. When they first get here, everything's thrown at them and they've got so much going on at one time. That second year they can concentrate on things and really grow. [For the rookies] it's going to be like a redshirt year because they're going to come into training camp and everything is going to be brand new.
DP: Who would be more welcome back with the Giants, Plaxico Burress or Tiki Barber?
EM: Probably Plaxico because he [left] fonder memories, winning a Super Bowl. Tiki ended on a bad note. It's really a shame. He should be remembered as a great Giants running back. He went out burning a few bridges with the fans. He kind of went after me a little bit, and it's unfortunate.
DP: Did you turn Barber's criticism into a positive for yourself?
EM: You try to. When I responded, guys liked to see that from me since I'd always been pretty quiet and never really tried to create any controversy. I just felt that this was a little bit different. This wasn't a media guy or a reporter. This was a teammate coming after me.
DP: Barber may have ripped you to prove he wasn't afraid to go after his former team.
EM: I definitely agree with that. That's part of the media world now. You have to be able to create some controversy and make headlines. Overly praising someone is not as interesting. It's like, "All right, that's fine—now give me the gossip."
DP: Who was your inspiration for your role as a cop in the commercial?
EM: Tom Selleck is always an inspiration, even without the mustache. I think I've always been envious of people who could grow that thick mustache and pull it off.
DP: Peyton looks like he's sporting a mullet in the ad.
EM: That was natural. Had some downtime this off-season. He's still all business obviously. But he's got a little party in the back.
DP: Is Peyton directing everybody at these shoots?
EM: He'll state his mind if he doesn't agree with something. He tries to do it in somewhat of a nice way. He'll tell the guy, "Sir, I'm telling you that's not funny. If you want me to say it, I will. But I think I have some better ideas." He's done enough commercials. He's been on Saturday Night Live. He has a good eye for humor.
DP: Growing up, did Peyton have NFL sheets on his bed?
EM: No. I think he just had game films. He'd be watching the Cleveland defense from 1976. He and Cooper in car rides would be in the backseat playing the numbers game: number 34 ... and name every single player back and forth [with that number]. Bo Jackson ... whoever couldn't name a number 34 lost. And they'd go to a new number.
DP: They just left you out of it?
EM: I was five. I couldn't read yet. I couldn't even count yet. I didn't even know what 34 was or the names to go with it. That's why I kept to myself and was considered quiet. I wanted to talk, I just couldn't get involved.
• Ironman's Rx
Cal Ripken Jr. knows all about the pressure of approaching milestones and thinks Derek Jeter's pursuit of 3,000 hits caused the Yankees' shortstop problems early in the season. Ripken said Jeter benefited by going on the 15-day DL in June to get his head straight. "It gave him a chance to catch his breath and gain perspective," Ripken told me. "I saw him when he came back, and there was a certain sense of confidence." Ripken said it was very "Derek-like" to go 5 for 5 in the game he reached 3,000.
• Tough Love
New Ohio State coach Luke Fickell offered a candid take on the challenges facing his program. A former Buckeyes defensive lineman, Fickell has seen firsthand how players are treated in Columbus. "It's a love for the game," Fickell told me. "[The fans] don't understand NCAA rules. Our kids have to be held to a standard where they understand what they can and can't do. People are going to be looking for them and don't realize they would even be doing anything wrong."
• Line of the week
Saturday Night Live's Seth Meyers on the challenge of hosting this year's ESPYs: "With all due respect to work stoppages, they're not exactly a comedy gold mine."
Now Hear This
Listen to the podcasts at danpatrick.com
1. Joe Buck on letting Vin Scully sit in during the World Series.
2. Mark Sanchez on how he's staying in shape this summer.
THE FINE PRINT: President Obama just called a press conference to announce that we will achieve complete withdrawal of stars from the MLB All-Star Game by 2014.