Thursday, August 6, 2009

Third-person Sports: Eli Manning makes what?!?!

Eli Manning reportedly signed a six-year contract extension worth about $97 million, with $35 million of that to be guaranteed. When I first saw this, I wasn't exactly sure what to think. But the more I think of it, the more I think I would hate to be a NY Giants fan right about now.

"What?" you might say. "Wasn't Eli Manning the 2008 Super Bowl MVP? What could possibly be wrong with the Giants locking up their leader?"

First off, I'm betting NY probably could have had him for a bit less. It almost seems as though the $97 million was the Giants' idea. I have nothing to back that up, but think about it: how could an agent go into the GM's office and - with a straight face and everything - demand the third highest salary in the league.

Don't get me wrong, Eli Manning has made some humongous strides over the course of his five-year career, but not enough to warrant such a price tag. In 2008, he had his best regular season (QB rating-wise) yet, but it still wasn't even good enough to put him in the 60th percentile. That means that in his best season, the 49ers' Shaun Hill and the Seahawks' Seneca Wallace still had better stats.

Imagine if those two guys signed such a lucrative contract. Imagine if they signed a 6-year/$60 million contract. Imagine if they signed 6-year/$40 million contracts. Any of those scenarios would be deemed ridiculous, so why is Eli getting the scratch?

I'm not actually suggesting Wallace and Hill are worth as much as Eli, but I would like to suggest the reason behind his inflated contract can be found in many different places. On his birth certificate, on his driver's license, and even on all of his elementary school assignment. It's the latter half of the words "Eli Manning."

His last name has been helping him since college. He was quickly slated as the number one draft pick, while Phillip Rivers and Ben Roethlisberger have statistically had much better careers (Big Ben also trumps him in the Super Bowl category), and they were drafted AFTER him. If his name was Eli Gower, he probably wouldn't have cracked the top five.

Now he's even getting even more money than his brother, who is a far-superior talent. Imagine being Peyton, breaking records and being on pace to break many more, and your little brother, who hasn't come close to your numbers on the field, passes up your bank account - and people already thought your contract was too high!

I'm all for athletes getting paid (especially in football, a sport in which your future quality of life can be greatly altered in any play), but a rational mind cannot think Eli deserves every penny of this contract. Being the Super Bowl MVP hasn't had this great of an effect on a salary since Larry Brown signed a lucrative contract after his Super Bowl XXX performance.

A Super Bowl win should not mean THAT much, not to mention the fact that the defense really won the game for him.

The biggest reason to hate this move as a Giants fan is because it handcuffs you from going after big names in free agency. I realize a lot of the Giants' recent success came through the draft, but if you put that much into one player, how much will you have left over to re-sign those players?

If you take a look at the list of the highest paid players in the NFL, you'll notice something's (or someone people are) missing: many elite players. Tom Brady, for example, had one of the most prolific seasons in NFL history in 2007. He's nowhere close to the top of the list, but that gives the Pats a lot of flexibility to add or re-sign players to keep New England competitive.

I'm not saying the Giants won't be good down the road, but it will definitely be harder and the margin error will be a whole lot more narrow.

For Eli, this is all fantastic. But for NY and its fans, not so much.

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