Jan 222020
 
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Eli Manning – © USA TODAY Sports

Quarterback Eli Manning has decided to end his NFL career and retire as a New York Giant. Manning will announce his retirement at a news conference at Quest Diagnostics Training Center in East Rutherford, New Jersey at 11:00AM on Friday. Thus ends a historic, 16-year NFL career spent entirely on the playing field with one team.

Through his first eight pro seasons, Manning accrued a 69-50 regular-season record and an 8-3 playoff record with two Super Bowl MVP trophies. He is the only Giants player to win the award twice and is one of just five players in NFL history to win multiple Super Bowl MVP awards. Manning is also one of 12 quarterbacks to win at least two Super Bowls. In his last eight seasons, Manning was 48-67 in the regular season and 0-1 in the playoffs. Ironically, he finished with an even 117-117 regular-season record and played in only one playoff game in the second-half of his entire career.

The 2019 season will be remembered as a sad farewell to arguably the best quarterback who ever played for the team. Manning was benched after Week 2. He started two more games in December when Daniel Jones got hurt and finished 2019 with a 1-3 record, completing 61.9 percent of his passes for 1,042 yards, 6 touchdowns, and 5 interceptions. A sparse crowd at MetLife Stadium in December gave him a standing ovation in his final game, a win that evened his overall career regular-season record.

Manning was the first player selected in the 2004 NFL Draft and immediately traded to the Giants by the San Diego Chargers. Manning owns practically every quarterback record in franchise history. He is the only player in franchise history to suit up for 16 seasons and his 236 regular-season games (234 starts) and 248 total games are both Giants records. From November 21, 2004 through November 23, 2017, Manning started 210 consecutive regular-season games, then the second-longest streak by a quarterback in NFL history. After being benched for one game by then Head Coach Ben McAdoo, Manning started the next 22 in a row, giving him 232 starts in 233 games. Manning never missed a game because of injury.

Manning is sixth in NFL history with 8,119 attempts and seventh with 4,895 completions, 57,023 yards, and 366 touchdown passes. He also has the franchise’s highest career completion percentage (60.29). Manning set Giants career playoff records with 400 passes, 242 completions, 2,815 yards, and 18 touchdown passes.

Manning was voted to the Pro Bowl in 2008 and 2011, and played in the game after the 2012 and 2015 regular seasons as an alternate. In 2016, Manning was the co-recipient of the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award. He is the only Giants player to be so honored in the award’s 49-year history.

“For 16 seasons, Eli Manning defined what it is to be a New York Giant both on and off the field,” said team President and Chief Executive Officer John Mara. “Eli is our only two-time Super Bowl MVP and one of the very best players in our franchise’s history. He represented our franchise as a consummate professional with dignity and accountability. It meant something to Eli to be the Giants quarterback, and it meant even more to us. We are beyond grateful for his contributions to our organization and look forward to celebrating his induction into the Giants Ring of Honor in the near future.”

“We are proud to have called Eli Manning our quarterback for so many years,” said team Chairman and Executive Vice President Steve Tisch. “Eli was driven to always do what was best for the team. Eli leaves a timeless legacy with two Super Bowl titles on the field and his philanthropic work off the field, which has inspired and impacted so many people. We are sincerely thankful for everything Eli has given our team and community. He will always be a Giant among Giants.”

“I learned very early that you evaluate quarterbacks on their ability to win championships, and to do it late in a game when the game is on the line, that they’re able to take a team down the field and into the end zone to win a title,” said former team General Manager Ernie Accorsi, who traded for Manning. “The second thing is to know that over a period of years, he’s always going to be there. Those kinds of quarterbacks always give you a chance to win, and for 16 years, he did that for this franchise. He won championships and he was always there giving us a chance to win. I don’t know how you can ask more from a quarterback.”

“It was an honor and privilege to coach Eli, and to go through the wonderful and magnificent moments that he and his teammates provided for all of us in the world championship ‘07-‘08 and ’11-’12 seasons,” said Tom Coughlin, who served as Manning’s head coach from 2004 to 2015. “The New York Giants, flagship franchise of the National Football League, have four world championships You have four trophies sitting there. You have (Phil) Simms, you have (Jeff) Hostetler, and you have Eli for two. Eli Manning not only is the quarterback on those great teams, but he is the MVP of the Super Bowls. He’s an incredible big-game performer. You talk about a guy that’s great to coach, focused every day, took tremendous pride in preparing, practice, had a great sense of humor, was a cynic in the locker room. But the guys loved him and they loved him for it, and they played for him. The guys that had the opportunity to play with him know what it’s like to be with a guy with as much talent, as much grit, as much determination.

“Here goes the retirement of a great, great football Giant. I and my coaching staff and our teams from 2004 right through 2015, for me at least, my part, hold Eli in the highest respect and congratulate him and his family, and his mom and dad, for all of the wonderful, wonderful experiences he’s had, and the happiness and pride that he has brought to the entire Giants family, the fanfare, the fans, the family and everyone that’s taken so much pride from his performances and for what he’s meant. He’s always been there to make the call, to stand up and represent the Giants in the best possible way.

“I can’t tell you what that means to a coach, to be able to prepare every week knowing your starter is going to be there. It’s almost impossible today to be able to do that. Some teams are fortunate. Many teams it doesn’t happen to. You get a guy nicked, you get him hurt. I remember once he was hurt with a shoulder. He didn’t practice all week. We didn’t know if he’d be alright. He started and played the whole game and played well. It meant a great deal to us to be able to prepare knowing he was going to be on the field and be the starting quarterback for all of those games.”

Off of the field, Manning has been one of the most giving Giants, donating his time and money to numerous civic and charitable causes. He heads the Tackle Kids Cancer Initiative at Hackensack UMC and he launched “Eli’s Challenge” by pledging to match grassroots donations from local organizations dollar-for-dollar up to $100,000. He and his family built “The Eli Manning Children’s Clinics” at the Blair E. Batson Hospital for Children in Jackson, Mississippi. Manning supports numerous other charities, including Children’s of Mississippi Capital Campaign, March of Dimes, New York March for Babies, Guiding Eyes for the Blind, American Red Cross, Scholastic’s Classroom Care Program, and the PeyBack Foundation.

“That’s what it’s all about – it’s about giving back,” Coughlin said. “You think that the good Lord gave you these tools for you to hold inside you and be selfish about it? No chance. He goes out in the community, he’s himself when he’s out there. He’s done a tremendous amount of work for the Jay Fund (Coughlin’s charity foundation, which benefits the families of children with cancer). He goes to see cancer kids over in Hackensack and throughout New York City. His heart is in the right place.”

Next week in Hollywood, Florida, Manning will be presented with the 2020 Athletes in Action/Bart Starr Award. The award, bearing the name of Pro Football Hall of Famer Bart Starr, honors Starr’s lifelong commitment to serving as a positive role model to his family, teammates, and community.

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Eric Kennedy

Eric Kennedy is Editor-in-Chief of BigBlueInteractive.com, a publication of Big Blue Interactive, LLC. Follow @BigBlueInteract on Twitter.

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