EJ Manuel's initials stand for Erik Junior. Named after his father, a military man, who never let his work get in the way of attending his son's athletic contests, EJ was able to give back to his dad in a big way on a big day.
Manuel's game-tying touchdown pass with two seconds remaining Sunday, which eventually led to the winning extra point and Buffalo's first win of the season, came on his father's birthday.
Buffalo's rookie quarterback stood at the postgame lectern with his first ever NFL game ball sitting behind the microphone. Manuel already knew the final destination for the ball awarded to him for his impressive comeback effort against Carolina.
"It's going to my dad," he said. "It's his birthday and he flew up for a game, so it's an awesome present for him."
Manuel admitted he and his father shared an emotional moment after the game was over.
"I think we were both crying man," said Manuel. "We were just elated about the situation. Being that it's our first win, then it's his birthday and my dad has been to all my games from when I was six-years old and nothing has changed. To see his face up there before the game and to have him in this situation was great."
Engrossed in the game that has become his career, Manuel admitted the game ball became a gift of convenience for his father as he had not gotten anything for his father's birthday.
"I didn't have a gift," he said. "My dad is not big on gifts anyway, but I know he'll definitely want to take this home. Even if I didn't want to give it to him he'd be taking it home."
The biggest gift for Erik Manuel Sr. on his birthday was seeing his son perform like a leader at the most critical time in his first NFL victory.