Eli Manning wants a Giants encore next season
Eli Manning has loved being the quarterback of the New York Giants through three presidents now. And because he still clings to this Jeteresque dream of retiring with the team that traded for him on draft day, you can bet your No. 10 jersey he was delivering a message, perhaps even a plea, to the next general manager and head coach:
“I don’t think I’m in decline,” Manning said.
“I think I can make the throws and be a good quarterback and win a lot of games.”
The next game he gets a chance to win comes Sunday against the Cowboys at MetLife Stadium now that interim head coach Steve Spagnuolo has taken the football from Geno Smith and handed it back to him following a one-game absence that felt like an eternity to him and to so many Giants fans.
“I want to be the starting quarterback next year,” Manning said.
He recognizes he may be asked to sit again so rookie Davis Webb can be evaluated. The new regime will be drafting a new franchise quarterback.
So Eli Manning knows he could be here today, gone tomorrow.
Gone to a place and a coach that wants him to be the starting quarterback.“If I’m not, I think I got a lot of good football in me.
“That may be the case,” Manning said. “After the season, I’m sure I’ll sit down with John Mara or whoever the new GM or whoever the next head coach is and see if I’m in their plan.
“I don’t want to leave the Giants. I appreciate and love the New York Giants. I love my job. I love playing quarterback for the Giants.
“I don’t wish to go anywhere else.
“But we’ll see.”
But you want to play?
“I want to play,” Manning said.
That’s No. 1. You want to play?
“Sure,” he said.
Every player — especially the great ones — wants it to end on his own terms.
“I’m not worried about the end,” Manning said. “I’m worried about playing a game. Go do my job, go try to beat the Dallas Cowboys, and end on some positive notes this season and then go from there.”
He will be 37 next month. He still believes he can play until he’s 40, or close to it. Beauty will be in the eye of the beholder.
“Three more years, two more years, I don’t know,” Manning said. “I feel healthy. You go through the season, you get some bumps and bruises, but I kind of feel as good right now as I have all year. Feel like I can make all the throws and can hang in there. … I’m not sure how much longer.”
The overwhelming love and support he received from fans, teammates and former teammates and, of course, father Archie and family helped him through the anguish of temporarily losing his job, his streak, his team.
“This past week doesn’t change my love for the New York Giants, and everything we’ve been able to accomplish and what we continue to want to accomplish here,” Manning said.
Tears welled in his eyes when he revealed this story told him by his sister-in-law.
“My oldest brother, Cooper, kind of wrote a note to his kids, just saying, ‘Look how your uncle’s handled this situation,’” Manning said. “I got a lot of that, friends just saying ‘A great example for my kids, a great lesson to show them.’ That was probably the most emotional part.”
Big Brother Peyton was livid with how the Giants botched the benching.
“He was great to have in my corner,” Manning said.
Spagnuolo is in his corner as well.
“When John Mara and I talked, one of the first things he asked was about the quarterback situation and I said, ‘John, my gut right now is that Eli should be the starter,’” Spagnuolo said. “So, I took my gut and visited with the offensive coaches and together with that and my gut, Eli Manning is going to be our quarterback.”
Smith is expected to be the backup this week. Webb, who is getting increased reps, ran the scout team as usual on Wednesday. The Giants will, at some point soon, get Webb some playing time.
“That may come up, I understand,” Manning said. “That’s why you take one game at a time and obviously, that starting job was taken from me, I don’t want to lose it. But I understand the position that we’re in, I understand why they did it last week. So I understand the circumstances and where we stand. I’m going to try to do my best this week and see what happens going forward.”
Teammates playfully reintroduced themselves to their quarterback.
“It was good to see 10 in there,” Justin Pugh said. “He was the first call I got after they drafted me.”
In his typical humble manner, Manning said: “Hopefully they’re excited to see me, you never know. But I was excited to see them. it’s good to get your hands back under center.”
It will be just as good to feel the warm embrace Sunday of Giants fans.
“I’m not looking for any extra attention,” Manning said, “but if they want to cheer, always appreciate cheers.
“Better than boos.”
He was smiling when he said it. There will be no boos Sunday for Eli Manning.