Smoking weed and popping bottles seems to be the preference for a majority of the NFL. One of my major problems with news and journalism in this country is the emphasis on the negative. They build up these players to borderline kings and they do not hesitate to dethrone them. Sure they make barrels of money and criticism comes with territory, but I would like to highlight a positive I saw today.
The Giants host open training camp sessions where fans can come watch practice and partake in an autograph session after it is over. After what was described as a “mob like scene,” of blood thirsty adults after Friday’s practice, Sunday’s practice featured a kids only autograph session. As the kids poured into the autograph area they were greeted with the welcoming faces of Eli Manning, Steve Weatherford, Rashad Jennings and Shane Vereen. It was hot, these guys had just went through a long practice and now they were obligated to stand around and sign autographs for two hours. But these men did not take it as an obligation. They handled the situation like the first class citizens that they are. My brother got his hat signed by every player and a jersey signed by Eli Manning himself.
I would have to give the autograph MVP to Steve Weatherford though. What a cool guy. He walked around the entire circle and made sure every kid got what they wanted. He took selfies, he told jokes, he interacted with them and left all of them with a smile on their face. He just gets it, and sadly that is not the case for the majority of his fellow players.
Now to my man, Eli Manning. Eli Manning is the most disrespected athlete in sports today.
Yes, I just said that.
He is a 2x Super Bowl MVP and only five men in the history of the NFL have accomplished that feat, Manning, Brady, Bradshaw, Starr and Montana. Decent company. Yet many fans and analysts (cough, cough Ron Jaworski) give him nothing but criticism and disrespect. But I am not here today to talk about his on the field play.
When you make the money he makes and have the accolades he has it is easy to overlook the fans. But he did something today that really made me take a step back and appreciate him more than I already had. He skipped over my brother and I saw my brother immediately put his head down in disappointment. Then I heard Eli assure my brother that he would be right back to get him. I figured he was just tired and would finish up and be on his way. Sure enough, I was wrong. Eli came back shook his hand and signed his jersey and it made my brothers whole year. Truly a first class player and person. The value of someone like that can not be measured in numbers.
As fans we need to understand that these men have flaws. Just like the rest of us they make mistakes, but unlike the rest of us they have to pay for them in front of the entire world. So lets do them a favor and every now and then appreciate them for the kind hearted people they are.
Featured Image via Neil Miller