Friday, December 03, 2010

Mom pushed Giants' Manningham all the way to NFL

December 3, 2010

By Kevin Kernan

Mario Manningham is only in his third season, but right now he is the last experienced wide receiver standing for the Giants.

He showed this past Sunday that he was up to the challenge, catching a 26-yard touchdown pass, his fourth touchdown over the last six games.

With Hakeem Nicks and Steve Smith sidelined, he's told the veterans, "I'll hold down the fort until you get back."

Manningham is looking for another big game against the Redskins this Sunday at the New Meadowlands Stadium. Don't expect him to ever play scared.

Explained fellow wide receiver Devin Thomas, who starred at Michigan State and has known Manningham since he was a star at Michigan, "Mario never panics."

"That's something my mom taught me," Manningham told The Post after yesterday's practice.

"I grew up in the projects in Warren, Ohio. I saw everything you could ever see. My mom was a single mom. She raised me right, she always told me, 'Never panic. Take it day by day.'

"So I never really got frustrated by anything. I owe it all to her. She gave me the whoopin's I needed. She put me in my room, made me read and do my homework."

"My son had to be in before the street lights came on to eat dinner," Marion said in a telephone interview. "Even though we lived in the projects, I had rules."

Mario also got something else from his mom.

"She's real fast, that's where I get my speed from," Manningham said with a smile.

"I ran track all through my high school years," Marion said. "And I named him after me."

She shortened it by one letter to make it a boy's name.

"From the moment I had him, I knew he was a special kid, I could see it in his eyes," she said.

Mario was creative, too.

"When he was 3 or 4 years old," his mom said, "we couldn't afford a basketball hoop, so Mario made one out of hangers and hung it on the door.

"And," she added with a laugh, "I wondered why we could never find any socks. He would ball them all up to make his own basketball."

Marion made a point to tell young Mario to never come home crying. One day, when he was about 6 years old, Manningham came home crying.

"A big dude, he tried to beat me up," Mario told his mom.

What did Marion do? She walked her son outside, found the 10-year-old bully and told him, "You want to fight my son? You fight him right now while I'm here."

This time young Mario took care of business.

"I had to, my mom was there," Manningham recalled with a laugh. "I couldn't take three whoopin's in a day."

All that made him stronger.

"With my mom on my side," he said proudly, "I don't care about nothing. She's always looking out for me."

Marion makes the drive from Ohio to New Jersey with family members for nearly every home game. She is quick to credit her parents as well for all the help they gave her, helping raise Mario and his younger brother and sister, who are both good athletes, too.

After last Sunday's win, as soon as she saw Mario, she gave him a high-five.

Offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride raves about Manningham's explosiveness, and said that because of the injuries to Nicks and Smith: "We don't have to share it among three now. More of those chances will come his way."

Manningham is ready.

"I'm just trying to make plays so my team wins on Sunday," he said. "God put me in this position, and I'm just going to cherish it."

His mom knows this is just the beginning.

"He's always been the step-up guy," she explained. "He's worked very hard. He's given me so many great smiles, so many great tears. There's more to the story, stay tuned. I've told him, 'You're just starting to break through. Don't stop.' "

Until you get in the end zone.

Popular Posts