A math teacher lurks on the fringes of a middle school dance, boppin’ his head to the Black Eyed Peas and trying to ignore the tweenage grinding before him. A father of the bride finds himself inexplicably in the middle of one of those dance-off circles at the wedding and thinks to himself, possibly incorrectly, "Well, she’s only getting married once." And 36-year-old Eli Manning looks up to see his 23-year-old teammate, Landon Collins, pointing a cellphone at him as a familiar tune plays. He doesn’t recognize this newfangled Trick Daddy remix that the kids are blasting, and he doesn’t have the foggiest what Chatsnap is, but he lights up at the familiar wails of KC and the Sunshine Band’s "Boogie Shoes."
Before Rob Gronkowski came along and absolutely redefined the genre, Eli Manning was always the NFL’s most overgrown boy. (He’s been that way since he was an actual boy — just check out this shoe-pants combo.) But he’s an old man now, heading into his 14th NFL season, and his frantic dance moves on the field from five years ago — and his bodysuited Lil B impression on SNL, and his trading floor salsa from last season — have given way to this year’s blessed gentle locker room shuffle, just as his elders would have foretold.
(By "his elders," I of course mean Peyton and Cooper Manning; the former has been known to shake a leg to Rocky Top, when he’s not busy singing it, while the latter’s preferred moves involve doubling over atop a bar. In my dreams, the family matriarch, Olivia, is undefeated at the limbo.)
Look: You can make fun of Eli’s goofy hoofing, or you can appreciate its authenticity. In the Super Bowl of awkward gyrations, there are two competing quarterbacks: one who accepts his limitations and just wants to play some good football, and the other who grins maniacally, sweats through his shirt, and does weird things with his hands. There can only be one winner in this head-to-head matchup, and I don’t have to tell you which one it is.