Signing the contract was easy. The New York Giants didn’t have a kicker on their roster and Brandon McManus was looking for a shot.
Telling his Philadelphia Eagle fan family he was now a member of Big Blue? Eh, not so much.
“They told me they disowned me,” McManus said, laughing.
Growing up 40 miles from Philadelphia, McManus recalls many Sundays spent packed into Lincoln Financial Field with his parents to watch the Eagles play. There was the yelling, the screaming and the cheering. He, like his family, became a die hard.
McManus wanted nothing more than to mimic those that he had watched on the field since he was three years old. He started playing football in middle school and continued in high school. He excelled at kicking and turned the passion into a scholarship to Temple University.
In the four years he suited up for the Owls, McManus established himself as arguably the best kicker to play for the program. Among others, McManus set the record for points scored (338), field goals made (60), field goal percentage in a season (82.4) and extra points made in a game (9). All while dealing with the elements impacting Temple’s home stadium, Lincoln Financial Field.
After graduating, McManus signed with the Indianapolis Colts as an undrafted free agent. He fought tooth-and-nail with Adam Vinatieri for a spot on the Colts’ final 53-man roster. The competition was close, but Indianapolis head coach Chuck Pagano elected to go with the veteran Vinatieri.
“Last year was great,” McManus said. “I kind of mold my game around Adam being a clutch performer at the end of games. That’s what he’s known for in his career is the clutch Super Bowl kicks.”
While it’s yet to be seen if McManus has a ‘clutch’ gene, what has been on display is his leg strength. McManus says he feels completely comfortable kicking from 60-yards out, comparing it to an extra point. In last year’s preseason, he kicked a 50-yard field goal with ease against the Giants.
Watching from the opposite sideline, New York was impressed. So, when Giants’ kicker Josh Brown had his contract expire at the end of last year, the team wasted no time in acting on McManus, signing him to a ‘future contract’ on Jan. 2.
“I really like McManus,” Giants’ special teams coordinator Tom Quinn said. “I liked him coming out (of Temple). He went to Indy for last training camp and preseason and I thought he was a really good kicker. He’s kicked in the northeast at a high level. I think he’s got a real big upside once it all starts clicking for him.”
McManus hopes the light has already been turned on. If he wants to be New York’s kicker, he’ll once again have to battle a veteran. Two months and 10 days after signing McManus, the Giants brought back Brown.
Brown has kicked 254 field goals in his 12-year NFL career.
McManus is 1-for-1 in the preseason.
“I knew no mater what it was going to be a competition,” McManus said. “I came in here during (organized team activities) and tried to work hard every day. I tried doing my best and we both performed at such a high level this offseason. “
The Giants were one of several teams to reach out to McManus with a contract as a kicker. Two others called him with a chance to punt. Aside from the accolades McManus earned at Temple as a kicker, he holds the school’s record for punt average at 45.4 yards per kick
“It was a lot of fun punting,” McManus said. “It gave me a different dynamic of the game. It was the first time since middle school I had the ball in my hands because when I’m kicking it never is.
“With kicking I used to put so much pressure on myself and I was so critical of myself. When I went out there to punt I just relaxed and it was such a different view of the field. “
— Brandon McManus (@thekidmcmanus) July 16, 2014
McManus admits he sees himself as a kicker first, punter second, but wouldn’t throw away an opportunity to do both. Yet before he gets too far ahead of himself, he knows there’s a roster spot that needs to be won first before double-dipping on special teams.
That doesn’t mean he hasn’t thought at all about the fact the Giants’ play his family’s beloved Eagles twice a year. Nor has it failed to cross his mind that often times the games come down to a two-to-three point difference.
“Hopefully when we play them we don’t blow them out of the water,” McManus said. “If I could set up for a game-winning kick, that would be great.”
But would there be a little hesitation from Mom knowing her son was about to single-handedly defeat her beloved Birds??
“Oh no, they’ll definitely be rooting for me,” McManus said with a smile. “My parents are all for me now.”