Eli Manning is valuable on and off the field.
In recognition of his charitable work in the community, the Giants' two-time Super Bowl MVP quarterback was recently named on the New York Observer's list of "Top 20 Philanthropists Under 40."
Manning, 34, has been the Giants' nominee of the NFL Walter Payton Man of the Year award four times for his involvement in, among other good works, The March of Dimes, his clinic at Batson Children's Hospital in Jackson, Miss., the American Heart Association, Tom Coughlin's Jay Fund and PLAY60.
Here is an excerpt from the Observer's list, which also includes designer Zac Posen, actress Olivia Wilde, and NBA player Carmelo Anthony:
When Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast, Eli Manning, like so many Americans, watched helplessly—but not for long. The New Orleans-native "wanted to help out but there was so much uncertainty," he recalled during a recent phone interview. "I talked to [my brother] Peyton a bunch about what was the best thing to do in a timely fashion and the Red Cross, who we'd worked with before, told us to get supplies down to Baton Rouge. So we filled up a big airplane with all the things the Red Cross suggested … [I] wanted to do as much as possible to bring back the city where we grew up."
Mr. Manning, 34, reflected on the events of nearly a decade ago on a recent morning while en route to Jackson, Miss., home of the Blair E. Batson Hospital for Children, the only hospital in the state devoted to pediatrics. In 2007, Mr. Manning undertook a campaign to raise $2.5 million to construct the Eli Manning Children's Clinic, which offers outpatient services as well as acute care to more than 75,000 children in Mississippi each year. He ran up the score, exceeding his goal by $400,000.
The charitable impulse runs in the Manning family: The Giants' star recalls that while he was growing up, his father, Archie, who quarterbacked the New Orleans Saints, "didn't talk a whole lot about it, but he did a golf outing for cystic fibrosis for a long time. We saw the effect that it had on people, and the joy he got out of doing it."
The New York Giants' quarterback likens successful philanthropists to successful athletes: Both are focused, laser-beamlike, on their passions. "The best football players are passionate about what they're doing. They're passionate about their jobs: Eating right, watching film, practicing," he notes. "That's what makes them good at what they do; it's what makes them successful." It's a message the veteran delivers to rookies who are eager to give back to their communities. "When we get new guys in [to the Giants], some guys want to start their own foundation. I'd say, 'Know what you want to attack. Who do you want to help? Don't just do it for the sake of starting a foundation.' "
For Mr. Manning, his philanthropic focus remains focused like a tight spiral on helping children. "Sometimes you get a child who's very excited; sometimes you get one who doesn't feel like talking, who's very sick," he says. He's experienced enough to know that sometimes, just being there can help. And, sometimes, there are the concrete results. "When [I] get a notice in the mail or a message from a family who used to have to go hundreds of miles to be treated, and now they can find the right treatment closer [to home, at the Manning Clinic], that's when you see the impact. There's great joy in knowing how many families and children you've helped."
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Check out the best photos of QB Eli Manning from the 2014 season