The two-time Super Bowl winner showed off his musical chops in a DirecTV commercial this off-season. At 32, he hopes to orchestrate a sixth playoff appearance for the Giants in 10 seasons.
DAN PATRICK:How much do you care about winning or losing in preseason?
ELI MANNING: You don't want to go out there and have the best game of your life in preseason. You want to see where to make improvements.
DP:Do defenders hit differently in preseason?
EM: The first preseason game, I did not get hit. In Game 2, I got hit a couple of times. I kind of like it. OTAs, minicamp and training camp, you never get hit. Finally I get sacked, and it doesn't hurt that bad. It's kind of good to get back into the mix.
DP:Has the timetable changed for when quarterbacks are expected to produce?
EM: I think it has. Every level of football is getting better. These quarterbacks come in having thrown a lot of passes.
DP:How has your personality helped you in the toughest media market in the country?
EM:I try to not to get upset or real discouraged with what the media is saying. I get upset with myself. I don't make excuses. I'm hard on myself, but I try not to show it or let the other team see it or let the media or my teammates see the discouragement.
DP:How would Peyton do with the New York media?
EM: [Laughs.] I think he'd do fine. He's a professional.
DP:But Peyton hears everything.
EM: He would be reading the papers and have a lot of enemies. Peyton is not as forgiving as I am sometimes. If some of these guys wrote bad things about him after a game, he might not ever talk to them again.
DP:Will there be a follow-up to the "Football on Your Phone" video?
EM: One-hit wonder.
EM: I don't think we can do any better. If we came out with another song, and it's not as good.... You gotta go out on a high note.
DP:What's your favorite part of the commercial?
EM: The scene where I go up to the guy who's talking on his phone and say, "The phone's not for calling; the phone is for football."
DP:Is that your real hair?
EM: Yes. That's my natural hair.
EM: It's hard to get it to look combed and how it normally looks. That's hours of work to get it to look that way.
DP:Will you play long enough for your kids to be able to watch you and understand what it means?
EM: I hope so. My daughters were at the game on Sunday. My oldest is two and doesn't understand what's going on. I hope I get to play a number of years. Five, seven, 10 years. Where they can watch and be proud of what I'm doing.
South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier told me his star player, defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, isn't likely to have as much trouble handling the spotlight as Johnny Manziel. "Jadeveon's low key," Spurrier said. "I don't think he's a nightclub guy. He doesn't mess with Twitter. He's low maintenance." ... Saints coach Sean Payton said he won't use Bountygate for motivation: "We're driven to win, but it can't come out of spite or anger toward the league office. I think it's something that has to be in the rearview mirror." ... Bengals coach Marvin Lewis explained that while the team makes sure no real football strategy appears on HBO's Hard Knocks, he does lower his guard when the cameras are rolling. "When you do see the show, there are things on there that you forgot," Lewis said. "You're just doing your job. You don't even realize that's something they'd be interested in."
MICHAEL J. LEBRECHT II FOR SPORTS ILLUSTRATED (PATRICK)
DAMIAN STROHMEYER/SPORTS ILLUSTRATED (MANNING)
GREG NELSON FOR SPORTS ILLUSTRATED (SPURRIER)
ROBERT BECK/SPORTS ILLUSTRATED (PAYTON)
BOB ROSATO/SPORTS ILLUSTRATED (LEWIS)