It will come as no solace to Eli Manning, but his measly 49 passing yards in four quarters of exhibition games has provided plenty of fresh meat in the Valley of the Stupid and other media precincts.
The butchers are engaging in panic-speak, which is always entertaining.
David Diehl, preparing for his first season on the other side, has heard the noise. His suggestion for the tizzed-out is close your eyes, take a deep breath, then point your toes toward the Meadowlands.
“Listen, there’s not a ball Eli doesn’t throw 100 times in practice, there’s not a route he doesn’t go over even more times with wide receivers,” Diehl, who played in front of Manning on the Giants’ offensive line for 10 seasons.
“Yeah, you want to do some things and show some stuff in the preseason but, at the same time, you are not really game planning,” Diehl told me during a phone conversation. “You want to get your base stuff down. You want to get into the flow of the offense and most importantly you want to get guys comfortable playing next to each other.”
Diehl said doubting Manning’s determination to make rookie coordinator Ben McAdoo’s West Coast offense a success would be a mistake.
“The fact Eli had ankle surgery in the offseason and them telling him to be patient and them having to drag Eli off the field and take away reps from him shows you just how determined he is going into this season.”
Manning doesn’t have an exclusive in that department. Diehl is just as determined to make the huge leap from the playing field directly into the broadcast booth. He retired last January.
A few months later, Fox hired him as a game analyst, placing him on the hot seat. Along side veteran play-by-play voice Thom Brennaman, Diehl will be working on the fly, three hours of live television every Sunday. This ain’t the controlled, often scripted, studio environment.
“I wouldn’t have auditioned if I didn’t think I can do this,” Diehl said. “Yeah, this is something that’s going to be different. This is something you are not used to seeing guys do (especially an offensive lineman), but I’ve done everything to get ready.”
This has been a long-term transition for Diehl. It started before he turned pro earning undergraduate and master’s degrees in communications and human resources at Illinois. Diehl signed a long-term contract extension with the Giants after they defeated New England in Super Bowl XLII. That’s when he re-focused on an off-field future. He attended the NFL’s broadcast boot camp and subsequently did internships for ESPN, NFL Films, NFL Network, NBC Sports and CBS Sports.
The foundation is fine. All players-turned-analysts know the X’s and O’s. What separates them is not only their personality and delivery but the ability to bring a critical eye to the booth. Diehl will be talking about guys he’s played with and against, even some friends.
“You don’t think playing for coach (Tom) Coughlin for 10 years I haven’t heard critical evaluations of myself?” Diehl, incredulously, asked. “I’m going to call people out if they are loafing, if people are lazy, if people are not working hard. But am I going to sit there and degrade anybody, talk down to them? Absolutely not.”
Throughout the conversation, Diehl’s tone of voice suggested a man obsessed with succeeding. His actions speak even louder than any words he delivered. Diehl has gone as far as being so persistent (emails or texts every week) with the legendary John Madden, that he flew to the Big Man’s home in Northern California five weeks ago for two days of a personal television tutorial.
They went over X’s and O’s and Diehl drew stuff up in the notebook he carries. They went over things to do while watching a game and studying for an upcoming tilt. “To be the best you have to learn from the best. John Madden has been in every single situation as an announcer,” Diehl said. “It was very important to me that he went over technical things (position players Diehl did not often study) that are outside my comfort zone.”
And after the Madden experience it’s no surprise Diehl came away thinking: “I want to have fun. The whole point of doing the broadcast is to entertain, but it’s also to teach stuff. I want to bring a different perspective.”
For the rest of the article visit the NY Daily News where it was originally published