Reflections of Derek Jeter — by Eli Manning
June 20, 2014 – In our coverage of Derek Jeter in the September Issue of Yankees Magazine, we will be publishing several first-person vignettes about the captain. Those recollections will be authored by Yankees greats who played alongside Jeter and by with several icons from other sports.
Last week, I sat down with New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning at the team’s training facility in New Jersey to talk about Jeter. Below are the two-time Super Bowl MVP’s words about Jeter, as they will appear in the September Issue.
–Alfred Santasiere III
When I was a rookie with the New York Giants, dealing with the adjustment of being a starting quarterback in the NFL and struggling to get my first win, I got a very meaningful call. Derek reached out to me to let me know that he was pulling for me, and he told me to keep my head up and keep working hard. He assured me that things would get easier. The fact that the captain of the New York Yankees, a guy who had already won four championships, took the time to call me, meant the world to me.
Derek remembered what it was like being a young athlete in New York City dealing with a lot of pressure. Although he was at the height of his career when he called me, he reminded me that it wasn’t always that way for him. It felt good to hear a guy who owned the town talk about the struggles he had in the minors years before. I never forgot that call because it helped me at a time when I really need a boost.
I’ve always been able to relate to the pressure that Derek is under because as the quarterback of the Giants or the captain of the Yankees, the media and fans expect you to go out there and be perfect all the time. Although that’s the goal, it’s an unreachable goal. Through all of the ups and downs, Derek has always remained calm, and focused on the next opponent.
Derek’s sense of calm has helped him play well in the clutch. You have to be able to respond in those big moments. That’s how you win championships. That’s how you get players to follow you. Whether you’re down by a few runs or a touchdown, if your teammates have the confidence that you are going to step up in your role, they will rise to the occasion, as well. You always want a guy who feels that he can come back from any deficit, and Derek is one of those guys. He’s got confidence in himself, and that has rubbed off on his teammates. The bigger the moment, the better he plays.
Derek is among the greatest athletes to play in New York. His accomplishments on the field, the way he has handled himself off the field and the way he respects the game are the things that make him so special. He’s a great role model, not only to young people, but also to other professional athletes. He’s done it the right way, and he’s done it the right way for a long time.