Devon O’Neil: Eli Manning conducts a clinic on how to shut people up |

Devon O’Neil: Eli Manning conducts a clinic on how to shut people up

Eli Manning: 85 postseason passes, zero interceptions, three road wins and a Super Bowl berth. That’s called sticking it up the doubters’ rectums, ladies and gents ” including this one’s.

Michael Strahan, the Giants’ veteran All-Pro defensive end, has always said he thinks Eli Manning has more pressure on him than any player in the NFL. He plays in New York, first of all, but he’s also Archie Manning’s son, Peyton’s baby brother and the ballyhooed former No. 1 overall draft pick who had the nerve to refuse to play for the San Diego Chargers.

I’m not sure Eli has always handled the pressure with grace ” especially not on the field, where poor decision making and that silly little smirk have made him a simple target. But in the NFL, at the quarterback position, everyone sucks for at least a little while. Then they either figure it out, or they go hang out with Tim Couch.

I think what we’ve seen in these last four weeks ” including the regular-season finale, when the Giants nearly upset New England ” is Eli Manning figuring it out. He’s crested a proverbial mountain. Now we get to see if that mountain includes one of the greatest upsets in NFL history, a Super Bowl win over the 18-0 Patriots, who are an early 13-point favorite. …

What in the name of 94-year-old Pat Riley has happened to the Miami Heat? Since winning the NBA title two seasons ago, Miami has seemingly been stuck inside a meat locker, the latest sign being a 13-game losing streak (going into Monday night’s game) that dropped the Heat to 8-31, by far the worst record in the Eastern Conference.

Perhaps the best explanation lies with the club’s largest human being, 15th-year center Shaquille O’Neal. Shaq leads the NBA in fouls per game ” 4.0 ” despite playing fewer minutes (28.7) than anyone else in that category’s top 10.

It is hard to comprehend O’Neal being a non-factor in an NBA game, yet that’s almost what he’s become. He averages 14.5 points and 8 rebounds per game; still, his days as a nightmare for opposing coaches and defenses appear to be over. …

Love the way Sweden’s Anja Paerson summed up Lindsey Vonn’s current performance on the women’s alpine World Cup circuit. Vonn has won four races this year ” including Saturday at Cortina by a whopping .83 seconds, giving her three of the five WC downhill wins ” and is second in the overall standings. Said Paerson: “She’s skiing everywhere fast.” …

I wonder if Hermann Maier reads $0.02. Regardless, so much for him being washed up, as I wrote last week. He finished second (super G) and fifth (downhill) in the famed Hahnenkamm speed races over the weekend in Kitzbuehel. Guess he can still make it happen for the Austrian crowd. …

Bobby Fischer, the chess boy wizard who won the world championship in 1972 and held it for four years, died last week of kidney failure in Iceland, at age 64. Smart guy, I’m sure, but this sentence, which appeared at the end of the AP story reporting his death, might be a stretch: “The president of the World Chess Federation (Kirsan Ilyumzhinov) calls Fischer … an intellectual giant he would rank next to Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein.”

The other two guys made historic breakthroughs in science. Fischer was a good board game player. …

Holy moly, have Rich Rodriguez and West Virginia become Pakistan-India, or what? …

Our Terriblest Idea of the Week goes to the editor of Golfweek, who got fired after putting a noose on the magazine’s cover. There are ways to stir the pot, and then there are ways to make an entire culture justifiably hate you. …

In the wake of perjury cases being filed against athletes like Barry Bonds, Marion Jones and Dana Stubblefield, this much is sure to happen. It should make it exceedingly more likely that we’ll hear the truth from current and future accusees in performance-enhancing drug cases, which is terrific in an era when the truth has never been so hard to find. …

In parting, I would like to nominate O.J. Simpson as the dumbest man on the planet. O.J.’s bail in his Vegas armed robbery case was doubled last week after it came to light that he left an expletive-laced message with his bail bondsman ” who works for You Ring We Spring ” back in November, aimed at a co-defendant in the case.

He’d been explicitly told not to do that by a judge, hence the tongue lashing he received from said judge at the hearing last week. Sometimes I feel like a golden retriever is smarter than O.J.

” Breckenridge resident Devon O’Neil’s $0.02 column runs on Tuesdays. He can be reached at

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