A touchdown for the sightless

My Aunt Mary – rest her – always said you could tell a lot about a man by the way he treated children and animals. So are we surprised to learn that New York Giants’ quarterback Eli Manning has a gentle touch with the puppies training to be guide dogs at Guiding Eyes for the Blind in Yorktown Heights? In a profession that is sometimes better-known for animal, domestic and substance abuse, Eli has always been a standup guy.

And there he was once again standing up for the sightless at the 36th annual Guiding Eyes for the Blind Golf Classic, held June 9 and 10 at Mount Kisco Country Club. The event featured 14 top U.S. Blind Golfers Association (USBGA) players from around the country, including Guiding Eyes graduate Dick Pomo, who took part in a demonstration with Manning on the putting green. It’s truly remarkable to see players like Pomo enjoying a sport without the benefit of their vision, particularly amid bone-gnawing wind and rain that would test any pro.

Bad weather is, of course, nothing to a football player. Eli patiently showed what it’s like for a sighted person to putt without the benefit of his vision, donning a heavy eye mask. And he damn near sank the putt, proving that great athletes also possess terrific spatial sense.

Even more impressive was the way he deftly handled the press, deflecting any criticism of teammates Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks, who at that point were missing from the Giants’ training camp, or any rivalry with his commanding older brother Peyton, the Denver Broncos’ signal caller.

Asked who was the number-one quarterback in the Manning family, shy-guy Eli said, “I’m just trying to be the number one quarterback for the New York Giants.”

If Gary Cooper were around today, he’d play Eli in a movie.

For more on the golf classic, check out WAG’s July “Hot Tomatoes” issue. For more on Guiding Eyes for the Blind, visit guiding-eyes.org. And for more on Eli Manning, stay tuned for WAG’s November “Voices” issue, all about those who use their voices in unusual ways (like quarterbacks) and also give voice to the causes of others. 

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