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Simon Says: A Lesson We Can All Learn From Eli Manning | Sports & Recreation

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Simon Says: A Lesson We Can All Learn From Eli Manning
Simon Says: A Lesson We Can All Learn From Eli Manning

"Simon Says" is an opinion column by WUSA9.Com's D.C. Community Web Producer Simon Landau. Follow him on Twitter @LandauDC. Opinions are his and his alone:

Just a short time after Super Bowl 46 had come to its thrilling conclusion, New York Giants Quarterback Eli Manning stood on a podium and hoisted his brand new championship trophy high, wearing his New York Giants Super Bowl champions t-shirt and hat, and sporting the same awkward grin that has been made famous by nine-year-old boys all over the country after winning their first youth soccer tournament.

Like the parents of those victorious nine-year-old boys, Eli’s mom and dad must be so proud of their son and his accomplishments.  Unlike the parents of those victorious nine-year-old boys, Eli’s mom and dad probably won’t get a photo copy of the scene and place it on their mantle in one of those plastic frames that are bordered by cartoon soccer balls.  Their frame will be bordered by cartoon footballs.

Sunday night Eli Manning was on top of the world, holding his shiny prize in his right hand as confetti fell from the sky in Lucas Oil Stadium.  It wasn’t always like this for Eli, though, and his trials and tribulations, which unfolded right in front of eyes, can teach us all a thing or two about determination, hard work, and also what facial expressions not to make if you are ever asked to be in a Citizen Eco-Drive watch commercial.

It wasn’t too long ago that Eli was being labeled an average Quarterback best known for having Peyton as a brother and Archie as a father.  His in-game body language, which resembles a guy who shows up at a house party where he doesn’t know anyone, was critiqued on a weekly basis.

But Eli just let the haters hate and continued on in relative silence.

He just went about his business quietly, focusing on his craft, honing his skills, and ignored everything else. 

He didn’t do crunches with his shirt off in front of a crowd of media in his driveway like Terrell Owens did a few years back, granted he doesn’t have Owens’ physique; he didn’t strip down for a GQ underwear photo shoot like Mark Sanchez did, granted he doesn’t have Sanchez’s looks; and he didn’t produce even one homemade video like Rex Ryan, and we can only hope that he doesn’t share Ryan’s bizarre love of feet.

No, Eli just did Eli, rocking his awkward “I’m alone at a house party where I don’t know anyone” appearance at every high and every low, presumably knowing that by being himself, believing in himself, and working hard, at some point, the party would come to him.

And it has.

Eli might have experienced the quickest professional 180-degree turn of anyone…in any occupation…ever.

This guy was one of the most scrutinized people in New York City probably a year ago.  Local fans and national pundits lined up to take their shots at Eli.

He wasn’t worth his contract.  His 2008 Super Bowl victory was purely luck.  He would never beat Peyton in the Double Stuff Racing League Manning Oreo Showdown.

How things have changed.

Now those same fans and pundits are saying that Eli belongs in the Hall of Fame, that his 2008 Super Bowl victory had to be a sign of things to come, and that he might even be the better Manning when it comes to throwing the pigskin. 

These days, they don’t even mention the Oreo Showdown.

So what can we common, normal people take away from Eli Manning’s ascent to NFL royalty? 

Eli has showed us that if you ever feel ignored by people in your industry who say you can’t or won’t and, instead, you continue to work and focus on making yourself the best you can be, maybe, one day, you can earn respect from your peers in your industry and find happiness in your workplace.

Eli was the 15-year-old nerd who used to got picked on and bullied daily, then, somehow, someway he kissed the hottest girl in school…and everything has changed.

These days, Eli Manning doesn’t get bullied and he doesn’t get picked on. These days, Eli Manning is the guy men want to be and women want to be with.

Okay, maybe the women part is a stretch, but you get the point.  When Eli Manning goes to work now he’s no longer the punch line, he’s the headline.

Women are probably more interested in Mark Sanchez, anyway, and we’ve seen how that’s working out for him on the field.