NEW YORK--First, there was the 2004 draft, in which Archie Manning asked the San Diego Chargers not to select his son Eli with the first pick. The Chargers were insulted, but shipped young Manning to the Giants anyway. Now the senior Manning has issued a request to all NFL defensemen: Please don’t tackle my son.
“First let me just say that I appreciate the opportunity for my son to play in the NFL,” Manning said during an appearance on Sportscenter. “I know it’s a huge privilege and an honor, and the last thing I would want to do is ruffle feathers or draw undue attention to him. But I would like to request that any and all NFL defensemen refrain from tackling my son. He’s young and fragile, and any kind of physical contact could really hurt his career. Again, I don’t want to disrespect the game, but we really can’t have Eli being tackled at this point. I’m sure you all can understand.”
Manning said the decision to make the request came after days of deliberation, and was not intended to make a mockery of the league. It was designed solely to protect the well being of young Eli.
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“This is completely out of character for our family,” said Manning. “We really hate to ask for special treatment because we know what a privilege it is to play football for a living. This was a very, very difficult decision to make and we did not approach it lightly. Simply put, my son can’t be tackled. Look at him. Look at that pretty face. Do you want to be the one to damage that? I don’t think so. So let’s all pull together and make sure Eli doesn’t get tackled. If we can’t get everyone to agree to this, he will sit out the season.”
Reaction from around the league has been mixed. The league’s defensemen are furious with the Mannings, and have vowed to tackle Eli as often as possible.
“Are they kidding? The kid doesn’t want to be tackled? This is football. Everyone gets tackled,” said Eagles defensive end Jevon Kearse. “I’m going to make it a point to beat the living shit out of that kid whenever possible. Hell, I’ll even take a penalty if I have to, just for the sheer joy of putting the pretty boy on his ass--that is, if I can stay healthy long enough to get in a game.”
Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis promised to remove Manning’s head from his body and vomit down his neck, if given the chance.
“Let me put it this way,” said Lewis from his home in Tampa. “When we play the Giants, it will be my mission to destroy him. I will stomp on him, spit on him, and crush his hopes and dreams. In fact, if he survives the game I will be very surprised. Don’t forget people—I’m crazy. I killed someone.”
Though Manning’s message may have been lost on the leagues defensive players, some experts are calling it “sensible” and “fair.” Michael Irvin, ESPN football analyst, believes that players have a right to protect themselves in order to avoid a career ending injury.
“Hey, we all got to make money We all want those endorsements, and any player who denies that is lying,” said Irvin. “Why shouldn’t he be able to exempt himself from being tackled? Why shouldn’t he refuse to be thrown on the ground? If he gets hurt and his career’s in jeopardy, it’ll cost him millions.“
He added: “Anytime a player does something to look after himself, everybody jump all over him like he selfish. I say players have a right to look out for themselves. Actually, I don’t say it, I scream it. I scream everything, even though I have a perfectly good microphone to amplify my voice.”
Despite the criticism from around the league, Archie Manning said his son is willing to sit out the season to avoid being tackled. There are several options open to Eli, including the Canadian Football League and the Arena league, but Manning insisted that his son would much rather play pro football. The only stipulation is exemption from the tackling rule.
“Look, it’s very easy. Just don’t tackle him,” said Manning. “It’s simple. If you get into the backfield, simply stand in front of him and try to bat down the pass. But don’t do it too hard. The ball could be batted back at Eli and poke him in the eye. It could also graze him, causing him to lose his balance and fall down, getting his uniform and hair dirty. If all the defensemen in the league could agree to this simple solution, Eli will be an NFL quarterback next year. If not, I have two words for Giants fans: Jesse Palmer.”
As for Eli, he’s been keeping a low profile since the draft, content to let his father do the talking. When reached for comment at his Manhattan apartment, the young quarterback downplayed his dad’s request.
“I understand that people are upset with me right now, but that’s OK,” he said. “I know my dad really believes in me not getting tackled, and I don’t blame him. You only get one career, one shot at this thing, and we’ve seen what injuries can do to a player. It wouldn’t be fair for me to get injured and deprive America of my excellence, charisma, and beauty. People wouldn’t stand for it. I just hope that we can reach some sort of an agreement on this thing so I don’t have to go to the Arena league. I really can’t deal with all that fucking Bon Jovi music.”
Manning Sr. has attempted to make a compromise with the NFL regarding his son’s safety. According to the commissioner’s office, he has already contacted the league and suggested Eli wear a flag or hankie in his back pocket so that defenders could attempt to capture it in lieu of actually tackling him.
“Have you ever played flag football? It’s a lot of fun,” said Manning. “You get to chase the guy around and try to pull the flag out of his back pocket. If you’ve never played it, let me tell you: It’s a blast. I think people like Ray Lewis, Brian Urlacher and Warren Sapp would really enjoy trying to get that flag. It’s harder than you think!”
When reached for comment, Urlacher vowed to capture Manning’s flag and use it to choke the life out of him.
Copyright 2006, The Brushback - Do not reprint without permission. This article is satire and is not intended as actual news.
Copyright 2005, The Brushback - Do not reprint without permission. This article is satire and is not intended as actual news.