A Lesson For Bankers - The Grace of Eli Manning

Respect and Teamwork

Last week’s benching of the NY Giant’s Quarterback Eli Manning merits a pause from all bankers. Say what you will about his 2-9 playing performance this season but appreciate his respect for the game and support for his team.  Manning is a strong contender for the Hall of Fame – he has been to the Pro Bowl 4 times; is one of the few quarterbacks to win multiple Super Bowls (named MVP in both); has the 7th most passing yards this season and maintains a quarterback rating of 84.1, or in the top 32% for the year. Yet, he was told to sit down. Most people in that situation, let alone a professional athlete, would have lost it.


What Hurts More


If the pain of not playing wasn’t enough for the 36-year old quarterback now facing his NFL mortality, consider that he has been the Giant’s starting quarterback since 2004. He has earned a string of 210 consecutive starts, second only to Brett Favre. There are a handful of quarterbacks still active in the NFL that are in contention to take his spot and displace Manning’s Legacy.  Out of respect, Coach Ben McAdoo came to Eli with a deal - you can start the first half and continue to build your record, but the team wants to “season” younger quarterbacks David Webb and Geno Smith.



Eli Manning and Teamwork

Jim Helmes / Shutterstock.com


At this point, it would have been easy to blame the coaching staff’s uncreative play calling with their traditional static formations and easy to read set up. Eli could have pointed fingers at his offensive line that has failed to provide the protection that the All-Star quarterback once enjoyed. Manning could have also pointed to the fact that his number one receiver has been out for most of the season or that the Giant’s defense ranks as the 2nd worst in the NFL. The Giant’s owner admitted the benching was handled poorly and peers such as Tom Brady and many past and current teammates publically came to Eli’s defense. It would have so easy to fire back. But, Eli did not.


The Manning Response


Here is what Manning said in an ESPN interview:


“Coach McAdoo told me I could continue to start while Geno and Davis are given an opportunity to play. My feeling is that if you are going to play the other guys, play them. Starting just to keep the streak going and knowing you won't finish the game and have a chance to win it is pointless to me, and it tarnishes the streak. Like I always have, I will be ready to play if and when I am needed. I will help Geno and Davis prepare to play as well as they possibly can.”


Eli’s response is the definition of respect – for the game, for his coach, for his team, for the younger quarterbacks and mostly, for himself.


Not wanting to tarnish the streak and “I will be ready to play if and when needed” is what integrity and true grit are all about. No doubt after he heard the news he was benched he waited until he was alone, kicked a couple chairs, let out a yell, took a deep breath and then resigned himself to improve.


Eli showed up at practice the next day and led the scouting team stopping to give pointers to Geno and Davis. Eli was true to his word. There was no drama. Eli put his team first. 


This weekend, Eli did not start against the Raiders, and his streak unceremoniously ended. The Giants lost.


Eli didn’t say a word other than to say this about his coach - "I don't want anybody to get fired. When a coach gets fired, it's usually because the team and the players, and myself, haven't performed to our duties. So I don't want to see that."


It is easy to be a leader and to talk about teamwork when you are on top. It is another story when you have to prove it with your pride.


Eli’s grace is a good reminder for all of us in banking. We are not sure how we draft and develop more Manning’s into our industry, but we need to.