It’s the end of an era. After 16 seasons and two Super Bowl titles with the Giants, Eli Manning officially announced his retirement today. Whether you’re a Big Blue fan or not, I think we can all agree that Eli Manning’s sportsmanship and character was unlike any other.
“For 16 seasons, Eli Manning defined what it is to be a New York Giant both on and off the field,” said John Mara, the Giants’ president and chief executive officer. “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.”
Since the news broke on Wednesday, the hashtag #ThankYouEli began trending on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. Fellow NFL players including Tom Brady, Larry Fitzgerald, and Kirk Cousins also took to social media to congratulate Manning on his retirement and successful career.
A Class Act
The NFL has dealt with its fair share of PR crises over the years. From Tyreek Hill’s domestic violence investigation and Ben Roethlisberger’s sexual assault charges, to Antonio Brown’s streak of unprofessional antics and Odell Beckham Jr.’s recent run-in with the law, the NFL has come under fire countless times for how it has handled its player’s scandals and misconduct both on and off the field.
Eli, on the other hand, was a PR dream for the NFL. He embodied what every owner, general manager, coach, and fan could want in a player. When asked to describe Eli’s most significant quality, Ronnie Barnes, the Giants’ senior vice president of medical services, summed it up in one word, “Humility.” Whether he was winning or losing, Eli was a class act.
The best example of this humility is when Manning was benched back in 2017. The Giants were having one of their worst seasons ever and former Giants coach Ben McAdoo announced that Manning’s backups, Geno Smith and Davis Webb, would be given opportunities to turn the season around.
Did this decision cause Manning to rant and rave to the media? No. Did he point fingers and blame others for the losses? No. Instead, Manning showed true leadership.
McAdoo gave Manning the option to keep his “games started” streak alive by playing the first half of the games before being taken out for the other quarterbacks. Since there’s no “I” in “team”, Manning turned McAdoo’s offer down and fully supported his teammates.
In an interview with ESPN, Manning explained, “Coach McAdoo told me I could continue to start while Geno and Davis are given an opportunity to play,” Manning said. “My feeling is that if you are going to play the other guys, play them. Starting just to keep the streak going and knowing you won’t finish the game and have a chance to win it is pointless to me, and it tarnishes the streak. Like I always have, I will be ready to play if and when I am needed. I will help Geno and Davis prepare to play as well as they possibly can.”
Though we’ll have to wait until 2025 to know if Manning will be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, one thing is for certain – Manning handled the media like a champ.
Thank You Eli
Love him or hate him, Eli Manning leaves behind a timeless legacy. The two-time Super Bowl MVP will be remembered for his grit, determination, and humbleness. As Giants chairman and executive vice president Steve Tisch said, he will always be a Giant among Giants.