I always knew Eli would be a star, says ex-Giant Rocky
From the day he was conceived Eli Manning was destined to become a star.
The New York Giants quarterback added to his burgeoning NFL legacy after guiding his team to a 21-17 victory over Tom Brady’s New England Patriots during Super Bowl XLVI.
Manning earned a second Super Bowl ring and MVP Award after completing 30 of 40 passes for 296 yards that included one touchdown.
Just as he had done four years earlier on the same stage against the same Patriots, Manning held his wits about him when it mattered most, guiding the Giants 88-yards downfield to the decisive touchdown.
Former New York Giants special teams player and Bermuda’s own Ralph (Rocky) Thompson has known Manning since he was in grade school. He was introduced to the future Hall of Famer by his father Archie who once played quarterback with the New Orleans Saints.
Eli’s elder brother Peyton is also a star in his own right as a quarterback with the Indianapolis Colts.
“I remember years ago their father Archie told me if you think Peyton is something wait until Eli comes up,” Thompson recalled. “Eli is better than all of them.
“I ended my career with the Saints and I used to talk to Archie down there a lot and he was telling me about Eli who had to be about 12 or 13 years-old at the time. He said wait to he comes.”
On the eve of the Super Bowl Peyton gave his younger brother a bit of advice that would prove crucial in the Giants’ win.
“Eli and Peyton have a very good relationship,” said Thompson, nephew of legendary cricketer Cal (Bummy) Symonds. “On the Friday before the match Peyton gave Eli some notes.
“The quarterback keys off the middle linebacker and the strong safety and Peyton told him not to look for anything deep because the Patriots were going to double team (Victor) Cruz. “Peyton is good and when he is playing it is like having a coach on the field and Eli is developing the same mentality. When I was playing you looked at films a couple of hours a week but these guys take them home with them and study everything.”
Having barely made it to the playoffs after going 9-7 during the regular season, there were those who predicted the Patriots (13-3) would avenge their loss to the Giants four years earlier in Super Bowl XLII. But not Thompson.
“Before the game I said the Giants were going to win because they have a better defence and a guy by the name of Manning who doesn’t get nervous like other quarterbacks when they come up against Brady,” the former Pembroke resident said.
Brady was brilliant in defeat, going 27 for 41 for 276 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. He also completed 16 consecutive passes spread over two quarters to break Joe Montana’s record of 13.
“Brady lost the way he wanted to lose,” Thompson said. “Brady is good, but the Giants were just too much especially with (Brandon) Jacobs and (Ahmad) Rashad healthy.
“When you have Cruz out there and Manning who is someone that can control the ball, you have your work cut out for you.”