So what did New York Giants’ quarterback Eli Manning think about Michael Sam making history as the first openly gay football player in the NFL?
“I’m excited for him, especially going to the team he wanted,” Manning said of the former University of Missouri defensive end, who was picked by the St. Louis Rams. “I’m excited for all the draftees,” good-guy Eli added.
But perhaps particularly for Odell Beckham Jr., the receiver out of Louisiana State University who the Giants hope will spark their offense after a disastrous season. It helps, of course, that Beckham went to Isidore Newman High School in New Orleans, the same alma mater as Manning and older bro Peyton, the Denver Broncos’ signal caller. As Eli shyly noted, he himself is more than a little familiar with Beckham’s game.
Looking natty in at least three shades of gray – and very much like a darker version of Peyton, particularly in profile – Eli was on hand at Mulino’s of Westchester in White Plains, N.Y. May 12 as host of the 37th annual Guiding Eyes for the Blind Golf Classic. (The tourney takes place June 9 at Mount Kisco Country Club.) This will be the eighth time that Eli has served as the host of the classic – a relationship I explored in WAG magazine’s November 2013 “Voices” cover story.
A nonprofit based in Yorktown Heights, N.Y., Guiding Eyes provides guide dogs for the visually impaired and autistic children. The QB, who’s been recovering from surgery on his left ankle, has already worked out with the Giants but hasn’t had much time to sharpen his golf game. We’re sure, though, that he’ll be ready for the trick in which he tries to sink a putt blindfolded at the Mount Kisco club to demonstrate what it’s like for a sightless golfer. He damn near sank it last year – a testament to an athlete’s sense of his body in space.
Eli is, of course, more than a skilled athlete. I asked him to autograph the cover of the November WAG with his picture for a friend who just lost her husband.
“No, wait, I have a felt tip pen that may be better,” he said in preference to my ballpoint.
That’s Eli Manning, autograph pro – and class act.
For more on Guiding Eyes for the Blind, visit guidingeyes.org.