Through four games, he has already thrown 16 touchdowns and has zero interceptions. At this rate, he could equally surpass the NFL record of 50 passing touchdowns in a single season (set by Tom Brady of the New England Patriots). And, of course, who knows where the Denver Broncos (the team Payton currently quarterbacks) might end up in the post-season as a result.
Sadly, as good a season as Payton is having, his younger brother Eli, who currently quarterbacks the New York Giants, is not faring so well. While the Broncos are 4-0, the Giants are 0-4. And to make matters worse, one of those four defeats was at the hands of the Broncos, wherein Payton essentially put on a clinic about how to play quarterback, while Eli threw four interceptions.
Needless to say, there are a lot of rumblings in the Big Apple!
Of course, one can only imagine what must be going on in Eli’s heart. Most younger brothers feel somewhat as if they are forced to live in their older brother’s shadow. But to have this played out on the national stage in front of live television cameras and then discussed ad nauseam on the sports networks must be insufferable.
And yet, if we would be honest, we can all relate to this, whether we have an earthly brother or not. In truth, no one likes to live in the shadow of another. And this is because no one likes to be upstaged. In short, no one likes to play Cain to Abel. How do we respond when these times come for us (as they surely will at some point)? Let me offer three suggestions.
1. Remember that things usually cycle. It may be a good time in someone else’s life and a bad time in your life right now. But that will not always be the case. Life has surely taught this to all of us. I have lived long enough to know that, sooner or later, everything will pass - whether it be good or bad. And that is why there is little room for pride in our hearts.
We can be on top of the world one day, and on the bottom of the barrel the next. Even Payton, after a marvelous career with the Indianapolis Colts, floundered. In fact, he came very close to having to retire due to an injury. Had this happened, there would have been no current season for him.
Likewise, Eli’s current down time will one day turn back uphill. If you are on the bottom right now, take heart: you cannot go any lower. There is no place to go but up!
2. Remember that you too have had lots of victories to celebrate. While Eli is in a dry season, this has not always been the case. He himself has a lot to celebrate. The first overall pick in the 2004 NFL draft, he has gone on to win two Super Bowls, as well as having been crowned the MVP in the process. He also holds numerous NFL records himself, not to mention that he has rewritten the record books for the New York Giants team itself over the last decade.
There is an old hymn that says…
When upon life’s billows you are tempest tossed,
When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.
Are you ever burdened with a load of care?
Does the cross seem heavy you are called to bear?
Count your many blessings, every doubt will fly,
And you will keep singing as the days go by.
3. Remember that you and your brother ultimately have the same Father who loves both of you equally. Archie Manning has a rare honor. He is the father of, not one, but two, elite NFL quarterbacks. More importantly, he is the father of three sons. As a recent ESPN documentary revealed, the older one, Cooper, was actually the most talented of all, until he was injured and had to give up football completely.
Ask Archie and Olivia Manning if they are proud of their son and they will invariably ask, “Which one?” They love them all equally. The point here is that we all share one Heavenly Father; and He loves us all equally. As the Bible say, “God is no respecter of persons.” He loves us all the same. And, in His time and in His way, He blesses us all alike.
So, “Go Payton!” And, “Go Eli!” And also, “Go Cooper!” In each case, Archie is beaming! And that should remind us how our Heavenly Father feels about each of us! Amen!