Sticks and stones, Vince.
I’m sure you remember the saying. Every kid in the nation has had it whispered in his or her ear when schoolyard bullies and knucklehead classmates rear their nastiness.
Sticks and stone may break your bones …
That needs to be your Year 3 mantra, Vince, because there will be many sticks and stones this year hurled your way this season. I’m sure you already have a few pokes and bruises.
But it starts big-time Sunday, and the worst thing you can do is allow it to hurt you.
Only you can do that.
Sticks and stones can’t throw more interceptions (30) than touchdowns (21), as you’ve done as a pro. You fell backward last season with 17 picks and only nine TDs. Can’t blame that on sticks and stones.
Sticks and stones were the reasons you were a mediocre passer (2,546 passing yards, 17th among QBs) and had an abysmal QB rating (71.1) that was 26th in the league. It was just 0.1 points ahead of Cleo Lemon. Congrats.
But here’s an encouraging chord. The guy ranked 25th in QB rating? Eli Manning.
But no one brings that up anymore. That’s what happens when you win a Super Bowl.
The sticks and stones that rained on Manning during his first three NFL seasons have been replaced by rose petals.
That’s what happens when you win a Super Bowl.
And it’s the only way you’ll eliminate the sticks and stones.
A 10-6 record was pretty good last season. And without four starters on offense, you were overmatched in San Diego against an on-a-mission Chargers team that had not won a playoff game in 13 years. The 17-6 loss in the AFC wild-card game wasn’t surprising, and afterward you said: “We’re just happy to be part of it.”
“Happy to be part of it” won’t cut it this year.
Besides, that’s not you, Vince. That’s not the guy who led Texas to the national title with the most incredible individual performance I’ve ever witnessed.
That guy was not just happy to be part of it. And as long as you are, it will rain sticks and stones.
They will rain until you take everything you’ve learned and become the quarterback you can be, one that is not only a weekly Top 10 Plays nominee, but also ranks among the top 10 NFL QBs in passing.
One who deciphers and dissects defenses rather than being discombobulated by them.
One who stays calm in the pocket that one extra “one-one thousand,” just long enough to make the right decision, whether it’s with your arm or those amazing feet.
One who is more than happy to be part of it, Vince.
And one who ignores sticks and stones.
They won’t hurt you. Only you can do that.