Eli Manning is the new cover boy of the New York Jets defensive playbook for this week's crucial game against the New York Giants. The photograph of Manning being sacked by the Jets— right before blood started dripping from a three-inch gash in his forehead— is being used to motivate the Jets defense by putting a subtle bull's-eye on the opposing quarterback's head.
The playbooks were handed out to members of the Jets defense on Tuesday by defensive coordinator Mike Pettine, according to the New York Daily News, and some may think the ploy is just a little short of putting an actual bounty on Manning.
Jets head coach Rex Ryan might slightly remember that his dad Buddy was accused by the Dallas Cowboys coach Jimmy Johnson in 1989 of putting a $500 bounty on QB Troy Aikman and a $200 bounty on kicker Luis Zendejas before a Thanksgiving Day game.
Manning, who is having the best season of his eight-year career, probably remembers very well the August 2010 preseason-game against the Jets when the gruesome photo was shot.
On a busted play, the Giants signal-caller was cut on his forehead by Jets defensive back Jim Leonhard's face mask after getting crushed by Jets outside-linebacker Calvin Pace from behind which forced Manning's helmet to come flying off.
As Manning kneeled on the ground with blood gushing down his face, Giants fans couldn't help but recall the image of former-Giants quarterback Y.A. Tittle in the same bloodied position from an iconic b&w photo.
Manning would not return to that preseason game after doctors used 12 stitches to close up the nasty wound.
Pace was the first player to get the new playbook and said he remembers the hit on Manning.
"It was cool to see it again," he said.
Pace also knows Manning is a much different and better player now.
"You have to make him uncomfortable. It's like his brother Peyton, man," said Pace. "If you let him sit back there clean, he's the greatest ever, but if you get your hands in his face, I think it puts a little bit more challenge on him."
The Jets may be using red blood before this game between Big Blue and Gang Green to intimidate and motivate, but Manning is a lot better quarterback now than he was back when he was knocked out of that game.
The photo of a dazed and bloodied Manning might be a motivational tool for the Jets, but the Giants, themselves, could use it as a reason to go after the Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez.
An eye for an eye.