They watch and wait, but it’s The Icon’s team, still.
Such is the life of The Journeyman.
Such is the life of The Rookie.
The Journeyman has been with eight teams. He has thrown 14 NFL passes and one TD. That was three years ago.
“I feel confident in my abilities,” Alex Tanney says. “If I didn’t, I don’t think I’d still be playing in the NFL. I have the ability to play at this level, and if I’m ever called upon, I feel like I’m prepared and ready.”
The Rookie was a fourth-round draft choice out of Richmond.
“I’ve spent 11 weeks doing all the same stuff as Alex and Eli [Manning],” Kyle Lauletta says. “The only real difference is you don’t get the reps in practice, but other than that, there’s no excuse. I’m responsible for the information that Coach is teaching us, so I feel ready, feel confident, and if I get an opportunity, I’ll be ready to go and I think I’ll play well.”
From Week 10 of the 2004 season, through Sunday against the Bears, the Giants have been Manning’s team.
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The Journeyman is 31. He is under no illusions. He doesn’t need a team to call his own.
“I grew up as a coach’s kid, loved being around football, love talking ball, and I know I want to coach when I’m done,” Tanney says. “I’ve got to build a lot of great relationships with a lot of great players and a lot of great coaches and learned football and be a part of it is something I want to continue to do.”
The Rookie turned 23 on Tuesday. He’s heard the talk about his suspect arm strength. He wholeheartedly believes he can one day be a franchise quarterback.
“I’ve always been extremely confident in myself and in my abilities,” Lauletta says. “Yeah, I certainly believe that I can do that, but it’s obviously easier said than done, so first things first, I gotta go out there and prove that I can play at a high level, so I’m looking forward to it.”
The Journeyman has had the luxury of learning from Josh McCown, a fellow Journeyman.
“I’ve been around quite a few veteran quarterbacks now,” Tanney says. “Early in my career, I tried to pick their brain and see how they kinda went about the process of preparing and watching film. That’s stuff that I picked up and try to use now, and [McCown] was one of the best guys in his preparation and just a great person, a great teammate and a great guy to have in the locker room.”
“I’ve learned a great deal from Eli,” Tanney says. “The thing that jumps out to me the most is his consistency. Whether we win, whether we lose, he just puts his head down and he works his tail off, and that’s something that I recognize and respect, and that’s something that this whole team sees and respects. He’s one of the best teammates I’ve been around.”
The Rookie hasn’t only learned from The Icon. He has learned from The Journeyman, too.
“He does a really good job of not listening to any outside noise or anything about starter, not starter or all that,” Lauletta says. “Especially with training camp and not taking a lot of reps and stuff, it didn’t look like he was gonna be here, but it’s a perfect example of a guy who works his butt off and does all the right things and he gets rewarded for it. He’s a good teammate, he does all the right things, so it’s just another great guy to learn from.”
The Journeyman, who grew up a Bears fan in Lexington, Ill., and used to attend Bears training camp in Plattville, has been active on gameday because Pat Shurmur trusts his experience. He’s been Next Man Up behind The Ironman Icon, who craves every single snap. Whether The Journeyman gets some with the Giants at 3-8 is a mystery.
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“I don’t really pay attention to any of that stuff,” Tanney says. “I just try and go about my job, and whatever that is throughout the week, whether that’s helping Eli or helping the coaches put a plan together, or giving the best look on scout team, I stay pretty consistent in my routine and how I prepare.
“If I’m ever called on, it’s like I’m ready to go.”
The Journeyman does not allow any clamor for The Rookie over him to interrupt his routine.
“That’s not up to me,” Tanney says. “I’m gonna do everything I can to help this team win. If I’m called upon to play, I’ll be ready to play.”
The Rookie was remorseful following an out-of-character traffic violation arrest Jan. 30. The Rookie has not been active on Gameday, and can only hope that he will be. In the meantime, he does not find the uncertainty of it all awkward.
“Look, wherever you go, there’s gonna be noise,” Lauletta says. “There’s gonna be people with opinions, and it’s our job not to pay attention to that. I know this is your guys’ job, and we certainly respect that, but it’s not our job to let that affect us and the way we think. We’re all a team, we’re all family, and we all want the best for each other, so whoever’s the quarterback, we’re gonna support, and if I get a chance at the end of the year, that’d be great, and I’d be thrilled to get an opportunity. But that’s not here yet, so I just gotta keep doing what I’ve been doing.”
The Journeyman was an undrafted free agent out of Monmouth College (Ill.), where he made a trick-shot video that put him on the map.
“He wants to be a coach when he’s done, he’s told us that, and everybody knows that about him,” Lauletta says. “He’s a student of the game. He really is a smart quarterback. He’s like another coach for us, really. If you can be on eight different teams and still stick around and still play in the league this long, it just goes to show you. He hasn’t played many games, so teams love having him, so just credit to him.”
Ask The Journeyman why he keeps on this journey, and he tells you this:
“’Cause I love it. I mean, why wouldn’t I? I’m getting paid to play football, it’s a kid’s dream, it’s something I grew up wanting to do, something I’m able to do.
“I’m gonna play until they tell me I can’t.”