Grand Feature Event Culminates Homecoming 2023
On October 3, 2023, as a monumental finale to its Homecoming 2023, Farmingdale State College (FSC) hosted Eli Manning, former National Football League (NFL) quarterback, for a sit-down conversation with John S. Nader, PhD, president of FSC.
During the blow-out event in Nold Athletic Complex, Manning, the two-time Superbowl champion and MVP, discussed his experiences playing for the New York Giants, his latest media work, what it was like growing up in the Manning family, coaching his children’s sports teams, and his thoughts on mental preparation, leadership, and philanthropy.
“I was fortunate enough to play for Tom Coughlin, as head coach, for 12 years. And his number one thing was preparation, preparation, preparation,” said Manning, when asked about the importance of mental preparation. “He believed that you didn’t win football games on Sunday. You won football games Monday through Saturday--in your work, in your practice, in your field of study.
“He used to talk about, if you were given four hours to cut down a tree, you’d spend the first three hours sharpening the axe,” he added. “So that was the mindset on just the mental preparation and the mental toughness that it takes to win championships.”
“The quarterback, as we know is often referred to as the ‘field general,’ coordinating the offense on the field. Most of the credit and sometimes most of the blame goes to the quarterback, no matter what the outcome is. That really goes to leadership,” said President Nader. “Among our students who are aspiring to be leaders in the years ahead, after they graduate. Can you talk about navigating those expectations?”
“I think leadership is a position that is earned, it’s not something that is given to you,” said Manning, who added that, as a rookie, he had to prove himself to seasoned players like Michael Strahan, Tiki Barber, and Amani Toomer.
For Manning that meant, “I was the first one in [practice] and the last one to leave. I was working hard in the weight room. I was asking great questions in the meeting room. I was taking notes. I’d practice as hard as I could every single day,” he said.
According to Manning, leadership is also about gracefully taking the failures along with the wins.
“When things go well, you’ve got to give all the credit to the guys around you. You’ve got to highlight all the great plays, your receivers and offensive linemen and running backs made. But when things go bad, you’ve got to be willing to take the blame and put it on your shoulders,” he said. “I’ve got big enough shoulders to handle that. I think it’s just earning that respect from your teammates. Once you’ve done that, you can be a leader.”
“Manning has been involved in a number of charitable endeavors demonstrating considerable dedication and commitment to life off the field,” said President Nader of Manning, who now supports Tackle Kids Cancer, a New Jersey-based nonprofit that offers essential clinical care, groundbreaking cancer research, and unique survivorship support services at the Children’s Cancer Institute.
“For me, I just want to do anything possible to try to lift their spirits,” said Manning.
“I just encourage you; little things can make a big difference,” he said of ways audience members can give back as well. “Visiting with someone, talking to someone who is going through a tough time, a phone call to a friend if they lose a loved one, just those little actions can make a huge impact on people’s lives and what they are going through. Make the extra effort to help someone when they are struggling.”
View more photos from the A Conversation with Eli Manning event on our Flickr Gallery.
A Conversation with Eli Manning Highlights:
- Was he nervous before his SNL appearance? No, because he was already used to “going live” every Sunday. He also asked if he could sing with Rihanna, but was turned down.
- Who was his favorite wide receiver? “I usually say the one that was open,” he quipped, before naming Victor Cruz.
- Which Manning brother would have a better career in stand-up comedy? Cooper because, “he’s really funny and bright.” He and Peyton, “would be unemployed.”
- What does he miss most about playing in the NFL? The celebratory plane ride home with his team after a win.
- What was better: The Tyree Catch or what could be known as the Manning Escape? “The catch was better,” he admitted.