As my mom used to tell me when I was growing up, “if you live long enough, you will see everything.”
She was right because as the Giants season has progressed, the calls for quarterback Eli Manning to be replaced at quarterback has been overwhelming.
I guess the Giants, at the time led by head coach Ben McAdoo and GM Jerry Reese, were a year too early. A year ago, you were in the minority to see Manning’s consecutive starting game streak come to an end, now you would be the majority.
But Manning has reeled off two-consecutive strong outings against the San Francisco 49ers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, both wins, including a 17-for-18 outing with two touchdowns in a 38-35 win this past Sunday.
As I have watched and witnessed every snap of his illustrious Giants career, the debate surrounding Eli used to be about where he ranked on the elite list of NFL quarterbacks. Remember, you can’t spell ‘ELITE’ without ‘ELI’. Manning even grabbed headlines by putting himself in the same class as Tom Brady during a radio interview. He is not that and he certainly is not the player that people are portraying him to be now. All of the Giants troubles and struggles do not point to the former Ole Miss star.
You see, Manning is the strange example of a star player that has never been fully appreciated for the player that he is.
In his prime, he certainly was not an elite player or a consistent regular-season performer. He was never as good or as accurate as Brady or Payton Manning, but that is okay. At that time of his career, he was being made out to be a better player than he was.
Now he is being made out to be a worse player than he is. Beaten down after playing behind an atrocious offensive line, he is being criticized for being something that he never was, a quarterback that raised the level of the players around him.
In all honesty, the Giants organization has failed Manning more than he has failed the Giants. The rotting away of the roster due to poor draft choices has made Manning’s job much more difficult as he has aged.
Manning is tough. He has shown himself to be a winner, having helped guide the Giants to two Super Bowl victories over the Patriots, winning MVP honors in both of those games. But he needs help around him and he certainly has shown that throughout the course of his career.
But now, the ripping of Eli Manning has gotten out of hand because to some, they opened up their eyes and saw a player that has been staring back at them for his entire career. There are things that Eli Manning struggles with and certainly there are aspects to the game to which he thrives.
At 37 years old, he is an older quarterback, but I would hardly think he is shot. There seems to be no doubt that 2018 will mark the final year that Manning will quarterback the Giants.
Will it be his final season in the NFL? I am not sure he retires after this season. I do know that if he wants to continue to play, he should be able to find a job with another organization. Maybe they will recognize what Manning IS and what he IS NOT.
It is funny, doing radio and TV in New York over the last 11 years, the debate surrounding Manning would always come up. I never thought he was elite, but I knew and witnessed the fact you could win with him. I really believe that if the Giants offensive line wasn’t as bad as it has been the last two seasons. Manning would have had successful seasons.
So, as we all get another year older and another NFL season races by, the Eli Manning debate has flipped from GOAT to SCAPEGOAT. My mom was correct, I have seen everything when it comes to Eli Manning.
Never thought I would have witnessed it evolve into this, be here we are. I know as players in all sports get older, it often does not end well. But Manning deserved better than this. After all, he provided the team with two historic playoff runs. I know he has been paid handsomely and I know people are going to be shedding tears as it ends. But remember this, Giants football with Manning was better.
I do know that the debate around Manning will not end when his playing days are finished. Next up, get ready for this one, is Eli Manning a Hall of Famer? Hall of Fame wide receiver Jerry Rice already provided his opinion last week saying he is not. What is yours?
For Manning, it will be just the latest debate surrounding him as a player. He is used to it. He got it in college. The debate raged on when he spurned the Chargers and the Giants acquired his draft rights and has heard it throughout the course of his career. This next sentence though is not debatable. When Eli Manning’s Giants career comes to an end, he will be missed dearly.