After graduating college, I cannot remember calling anyone "sir" without the intent of sarcasm, but football is a sport full of faux formalities and strange power structures which might explain why new Giants quarterback Davis Webb found himself in an awkward spot recently during a post-draft phone call with Eli Manning.
"I just wanted to welcome him to the team, let him know if he has any questions or needs anything in the next few days, I was here for him," Manning told the team's official website. "He responded to that with 'Yes, sir.' I told him we were off to a bad start. Please to not refer to me as sir. I appreciate the manners but we're teammates. I was always taught the same thing. Anyone older than me, I have to call them sir. But hopefully we straightened that out."
He added: "I really don't know much about Davis. I know he started off at Texas Tech and transferred to Cal his senior year. I know he's a big kid and it sounds like he has a strong arm. I know a few of the other names and several other quarterbacks that were in the draft. ... I look forward to meeting Davis, welcoming him to the team and see if he needs any help from me. I'm always happy to give it."
Good for Manning, who has to realize that this is already difficult enough for the 22-year-old quarterback. Webb will now be subject to the ever-uncomfortable Manning succession path, which is full of potential media pitfalls and questions with no correct answers.
At the moment, he's probably swimming in coach Ben McAdoo's version of the Packers offense, which is so acutely focused on timing and precision that he has little time to peek out of the playbook and realize where he's playing and who he's currently playing understudy to.
Good for Webb, too. It can never hurt to suck up to the power players. Better to come in formal and work your way down rather than to risk it all with the "Sup, Eli?"