Elisha Nelson Manning is the Super Bowl XLII MVP. Winning a Super Bowl is a difficult task in the NFL. Even the great Dan Marino and Warren Moon never won a Super Bowl. Despite never winning a Super Bowl, Marino and Moon were consistent. Eli Manning hasn’t won a playoff game since his 2007.
What happened? Manning lost his favorite targets, Burress and Smith while turning the ball more (Eli led the league in interceptions last year). Eli cannot be excuse for having bad receivers because he has Hakeem Nicks and Mario Manningham while Dan Marino had a worst supporting case. Was Super Bowl XLII a fluke?
Eli Manning makes poor decisions while having average arm strength. His bad decision has cost him numerous like throwing head first and fumbling or throwing left handed passes for interceptions. This article will focus on the latter on why Eli Manning’s decisions will never be an elite quarterback. First, I will explain what is ambidexterity is and it is important in sports. Second, I will display examples of ambidextrous quarterbacks and their success in the NFL. Third, I will explain Eli Manning's left handed tendency. Finally, I will explain why an ambidextrous quarterback is not something to be desired.
Ambidextrous is the ability to use both hands and feet with equal ease. The average person has a preferred foot and hand but professional athletes usually develop coordination with both hands and feet. Lebron James, Derrick Rose, and Ronaldinho are ambidextrous athletes.
Ambidexterity can be an advantage in sports. I remember playing basketball often hearing coaches tell me to use my left hand for layups. I could not entertain the thought because I am right handed. If I am really good right handed, why would I practice being left handed? Practicing with your less coordinated hand or foot can make an individual appear if they belong on the handicapped bus. The awkwardness make Hunter Pence look normal. Even though it is awkward at first, being ambidextrous helps athletes. Ambidextrous athletes can lead to tactical advantages leading to mismatches. In basketball and soccer, you can build off different shots which can throw off your opponents. Is being ambidextrous in football an advantage?
Ambidextrous quarterbacks are a new phenomenon. Troy Smith and Chris Leak were the most recent ambidextrous quarterbacks in the NFL. Troy Smith played for the San Francisco 49ers in 2010. Could being ambidextrous give Smith edge in the NFL? Smith was an excellent college athlete winning the Heisman Trophy in 2006. Troy Smith finished his career in the NFL with a 78 QBR. Ouch. How about Chris Leak who played in the Bears’ last preseason game in 2007? Leak faced a similar fate as Troy Smith. Chris Leak was cut from the Saskatchewan Roughriders this June. It does not seem like the NFL will be using ambidextrous quarterback anytime soon.
(Disclaimer: I couldn’t find any pictures that had Leak or Smith throwing left handed. I didn’t watch college football when they played so I wouldn’t know. I looked up their biography and it listed them as professionally ambidextrous athletes)
Wait a minute; Eli Manning is right handed though. Correct but in the New York Post last year, Manning stated that he likes practicing throwing left handed during practice drills. What has he gained for his hard work? Manning had a two yard gain to Brandon Jacob against the St. Louis Rams and an interception against the Tennessee Titans last year. After the game, Eli said "I am not very good at throwing left-handed and it was a bad decision on my part. What is next, a submarine style quarterback? This is not NFL Street. The younger Manning firmly believes that left handed drills can extend drives. The New York Daily stated that Eli practices throwing lefty during warm ups when his right arm gets tired. "I don’t know why I do it but I think it helps" Good idea right? Is being ambidextrous similar to Vick’s scrambling ability to save drives? In theory, the answer is yes. If ShadyMcVickFactor could throw a shovel pass to Eagladelphia to his left while VickSucks is coming to his right side about tackle. Sadly, the game is not played on paper. Eli Manning’s experiment is detrimental to the Giants.
Eli Manning Throws with Wrong Hand and Gets Intercepted NFL (via GamerZoneHQ)
Being an ambidextrous quarterback is like being an ambidextrous pitcher; it takes years to develop. Pat Venditte, the ambidextrous pitcher was trained since birth is only projected to be a middle inning reliever that is if he makes the Majors. The pitcher is similar to a quarterback. A pitcher and quarterback are behind every loss and win. It seems like a great idea to develop an ambidextrous athlete especially if you are trying to outsmart your opponents. I recently read about parents training their children to become ambidextrous in order to seize a tactical advantage. I believe these parents are neglecting the mental aspect. Thinking on which hand to throw in a game increases the likelihood of poor choices. The Ambidextrous athletes are a novel idea but also not practical as a franchise quarterback.
The speed of a football and a baseball game affects the ambidextrous athlete. In baseball, a pitcher could switch hands for tactical reasons. A baseball pitcher has at least twelve seconds to throw a pitch. These twelve seconds allows ample time to mentally prepare the pitch. In football, the quarterback doesn’t have the luxury of time especially if the team has a bad offensive line. Being ambidextrous creates bad habits because the quarterback needs to release the football quickly. The time spent switching hands gives more time for the defensive line to rush the quarterback which increases bad decision. Furthermore, basketball and soccer games have a different tempo than football. Within a football game, a quarterback does not have the luxury to decide which hand to throw especially when one down could as long as three seconds.
Being ambidextrous can be beneficiary to the athlete. Becoming ambidextrous is crucial in basketball and soccer but it takes years to develop. The athlete needs time to develop dexterity and mental preparation using the non-dominant limb. The time spent becoming an ambidextrous quarterback will hardly become an advantage in the end. Eli Manning isn’t a great quarterback because his left handed throwing practice has led him to poor decision. If Manning would work on his right handed accuracy more (decreases his interception rate, increases completion rate while decreasing his mental mistakes) would make him a better quarterback. With his ill-advised training regime, Manning will be an average quarterback.