Eli Manning’s announcement yesterday that he was retiring from football brought on so many memories of his play over the last 16 years.
There was “The Catch” by Tyree, ”The Perfect Pass” to Manningham. It also has brought on an intense debate of his career and whether Eli is a Hall of Famer.
There are a few words that come to mind when I think of Eli Manning.
Eli is a total “Class Act”. From his very first interview at Giants Stadium after being drafted in 2004, through every media session, and as he was packing up his locker the day after the season just ended, Eli never deflected the attention to others and answered every question.
With every memory shared by former teammates, other NFL players, media members, etc., I have not heard one negative comment on Eli the person. Not even one luke-warm or indifferent comment. In fact, the praise is the Manning Family is defined as “Classy”.
Eli Never Missed a Game. From the time Eli got the call to start from Tom Coughlin, Eli never missed a game due to injury. Many a coach and player noted that Eli was the first to arrive and the last to leave each day. As the roster changed over 16 years, #10 was always there, leading the QB room sessions, learning the offense(s), working with receivers in the offseason. No matter who the GMs or Coaches surrounded Eli with, he never complained and went about doing his job to the best of his ability.
And when the stakes were raised in the playoffs, Eli played his best ball. Twice, Eli led his teams to four-win post-seasons and Super Bowls. No other QB has done that.
Win or Lose, Eli Answered. Eli never slapped himself on the back for his performance. Eli also never threw any other player under the bus. Wins were credited to the other players; Eli viewed losses as opportunities for him to improve. And as the roster fell apart around him, Eli never deflected questions to owners, GMs or coaches. Over the last several years, I’m sure there were many times where disappointment, frustration, and anger could have surfaced in front of outsiders. Yet “Easy Eli” stayed steady, stood tall, spoke positively, and represented the Giants in the best light.
Everybody Loves Eli. Eli was the consummate team player and team leader. You can see that in the tweets and accolades coming to Eli since yesterday’s announcement.
In my opinion, Eli is deserving of the title, “NFL Hall of Fame Member”. I’ve been on a couple of Twitter threads today with folks on both sides of the debate. Statistics can be debated both ways. But, when you look at the intangibles as well as the numbers, there are few individuals that have represented the New York Football Giants and the National Football League any better than Eli Manning. Not every retiring player gets the praise and messages from everywhere in the sport that I’ve seen for Eli today.
I think the biggest indicator of the contribution Eli has made to the Giants, the NFL, and the community will be the size of the crowd tomorrow at Eli’s press conference. That will speak volumes about Eli.
Thanks again, Eli! Now, go enjoy that beautiful family. They deserve your time now.