Why Eli Manning was a better New York Star than Derek Jeter

Eli Manning, New York Giants (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)
Eli Manning, New York Giants (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images) /
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New York Giants
Eli Manning, New York Giants. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /

It’s was a whirlwind week in the Big Apple as fans celebrated the enshrinement of New York Yankees great Derek Jeter into the baseball Hall Of Fame, and now say goodbye to another (maybe) HOF’er in New York Giants Super Bowl hero Eli Manning.

The men who led New York teams to the areas most recent championships had a big week. New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning retired and New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter was almost unanimously to the Baseball Hall of Fame. Of the two Jeter was a more successful player and Manning was a better teammate.

Both were unquestioned leaders of championship teams, both played their best when the spotlights were the brightest. Finally, both led parades down the canyon of heroes in NYC. There’s only one I’d have wanted as a teammate though.

Somewhere between the home run and basket catch on opening day of 1996 and his last at-bat at home against Evan Meek and the Orioles, “The Captian” became an island onto himself. His friends were gone, his skills declined, and new “unYankees” teammates led him to withdraw.

Think about Russell Wilson without the corniness… that’s who Derek Jeter became. He was a great New York Yankees player but seemed to be as concerned with maintaining his own dignity as he was with leading the team. There’s no shame in that, after all, it worked for Joe DiMaggio, who was the poster boy for preserving an image.

Eli Manning came to the New York Giants and struggled. People questioned his performance, his intelligence, his ability to lead a veteran team. After Tiki Barber retired it seemed his sole purpose of driving the bus was to throw Manning under it (and back it over him again). Through it all, Manning just kept playing, kept being himself,  and growing as a player and as a leader.