If I got to play Santa Claus in the National Football League this year, pad my tummy, don the long white wig, loop the hangers of a bushy white beard over my ears, hop into that spiffy red and white suit and hand out gifts to the needy children of the gridiron, I know how I could make the holiday season much happier for many of them.

Anyone who’s watched the Giants this season knows the best thing Eli Manning could find under his tree Wednesday morning is an offensive line.  Opposing defensive linemen look like water rushing through a broken dam.  Eli would also like to see some receivers who read from the same page as him.  They spent much of the season cutting in while Eli was throwing out, and vice versa.  Maybe after three seasons Jerrel Jernigan has found the playbook.

As for Giants coach Tom Coughlin, I think a little peace of mind might be the perfect gift after two weeks of listening to talk show callers reasoning how his two Super Bowl championships shouldn’t buy as much equity as two AFC Championship game appearances buy Jets coach Rex Ryan, who hasn’t been to the playoffs in three years.

As for Ryan, a lump of coal for, reportedly, using his pending firing as a “Win one for the Rex” pre game motivational speech.  On the other hand, if the reports are true and Rex was being honest, the best gift I can think to give him is to have Woody be swift and merciful with the final justice.

I had some Christmas gifts all loaded in the sleigh for Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, but now I’m not so sure he needs them.  I had a sackful of tight ends for Brady, prototypical types, big, strong, smart enough to get into an open safety valve zone and fast enough to turn those short passes into long yards.  Brady’s been having a hard time of late finding some of those who can stay out of trouble and stay out of the infirmary.  I also had a crafty little, often overlooked wide receiver who can be counted on in just about every critical situation, because Tom’s got lost in Denver on his way back to Foxboro, but somebody beat me to it with Julian Edeleman, and, Holy St. Nick, if the defense is going to do so much scoring, Tom doesn’t need any extra help from me.

What to get for the man who has everything?  Well, almost everything.  Peyton Manning has been a good boy all year, very good, just like he is every year.  So, for the man who owns just about every passing record in NFL history, I can think of 265 things to stuff into his stocking, one yard at a time, until he’s put up enough to pass Drew Brees’ all time single season passing yardage mark, now that he’s passed Brady’s single season touchdown pass record.  No one ever deserved it as much, because every Christmas present he gets is passed on to his teammates.  Just like Santa, he always gives most of the credit to his helpers, those front line elves, so portly and stout, doing all their best to help Peyton out.

So that’s what I’d give, if it were up to me, just some of the things I’d leave under the NFL tree.

With a christmas list from the sports world, I’m Scott Gray.


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