In an interview on ESPN New York's "The Michael Kay Show", Eli Manning was asked about the idea of himself as the titular head of the New York Giants. Manning bristled at the suggestion that it was "his team." Sounding like his older brother, he deflected the question.
I never got into the deal of saying, ‘Hey, this is my team.' It's a part of a team. It's everybody's team. It's not one player's team. It's Coach Coughlin's team, but we play together. I think my teammates have faith in me. ... Am I one of the leaders? I'd say so. I've been here one of the longest on the team and have a great understanding of what's going on, but so do a lot of other players. ... It's not one person's team.
Technically, the Giants belong to John Mara and Steve Tisch, the owners. Still, Manning made his point, deftly turning away the question and the media firestorm that might have resulted with another answer.
He also revisited comments he made in August on the same show in which he called himself an elite quarterback, in a class with Tom Brady. Asked if he felt vindicated as the NFC Champions this season, Manning responded:
That was never the goal, to try to vindicate or try to prove to anyone. I wanted to come out and have a good season this year, there's no question. I worked hard this offseason getting prepared and through training camp and each week, just having the mindset of taking care of the football and working on your accuracy and getting your teammates prepared around you. ... I wanted to have a good season, but it's more proving to myself and playing to the potential that I knew I had.
Fans and the media have a long memory when it comes to statements like that. You can count on hearing more about it in the lead up to the big game. What gets said about the Giants being Manning's team and his status as an elite quarterback will depend largely on the outcome of the Super Bowl and his role in it.