I mean, I guess the question has to be asked. New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning had ankle surgery Thursday, one day after photos surfaced of him, his brother and some of their teammates on the basketball court at Duke. So if you are wondering whether Manning re-injured his already-sprained ankle playing basketball, you're not out of line for asking.
The Giants deny it, and the photos do not show Manning playing basketball -- only posing for a picture with some of the other guys who were there for the annual passing camp the Manning brothers conduct with their receivers. He's holding a ball in one of them. If you put a gun to my head, I'd have to guess he at least took a jump shot at some point.
But here's what I'll say on this: Manning also did football stuff at Duke this week, as he does every year. The ankle was already bad as a result of the sprain suffered in the final game of the 2013 season. Whatever he did at Duke -- be it football, basketball, getting out of bed in the morning, whatever -- alerted him to the fact that his ankle wasn't all the way healed, and he and the Giants decided to get the surgery done Thursday to clean it up. Presumably, this was always a possibility, and they were just hoping to avoid surgery the same way any rational human being would hope to avoid surgery.
I'm willing to give Manning the benefit of the doubt. And that's not me being naive. I am well aware that these things happen. I was covering the Yankees in the winter of 2003-04 when third baseman Aaron Boone blew out his knee playing basketball in the offseason and set off the chain of events that led to Alex Rodriguez's ill-fated Yankees career. It is entirely possible that Manning did something he shouldn't have done this week and made the ankle worse, and that the Giants aren't being straight with us. Teams and players fiddle with the truth on injuries all the time -- all teams, in every sport.
My point is that, at this point, this has no effect on anything. Manning is not yet in line to miss any on-field work, even in the offseason. If he does, and if that has a negative effect on anything that happens in the 2014 season, any grumbling that follows is perfectly justified. I just think this is a player who's shown a remarkable ability to take care of himself and avoid injury. So I'm not eager to rush to judgment about how he's handling this situation.