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Tag: Eli Manning

Eli Manning and NY: One of the Great Sports Love Stories

ROBBINS NEST

Eli Manning, on his retirement day 01/24/20, Neil Miller/The New York Extra

By Lenn Robbins

At his last official press conference as a Giant, Eli Manning presented one side of the best love affairs New York has ever had with one of its athletes.

“It’s impossible to explain the satisfaction, and actually the joy I’ve experienced being a Giant,’’ he said Friday.

Eli Manning, on his retirement day /Neil Miller /The New York Extra

There’s no question he loved donning that red, white and blue No. 10 jersey. No doubt he felt playing quarterback was the greatest gig on Earth and this was the place to do it.

Manning made that clear prior to the 2004 when he let it be known he had no intention of playing in San Diego. He wanted New York.

This laidback son of the South, who had to navigate his way out of the shadow of his father, Archie, and his older brother, Peyton, now wanted to take on New York, not with a bullhorn or a billboard, but with himself.

“From the very first moment, I did it my way,’’ Manning said Friday at his retirement press conference. “I couldn’t be someone other than who I am.

“Undoubtedly, I would’ve made the fans, the media and even the front office more comfortable if I was a more rah-rah guy. But that’s not me. Ultimately, I choose to believe that my teammates and the fans learned to appreciate that. They knew what they got was pure, unadulterated Eli.”

And wasn’t that marvelous? No ranting at an offensive coordinator on the sideline. No dodging the media. No suggesting a teammate had missed his assignment.

Elisha Nelson Manning IV.put himself out there. We took him in. Pure, unadulterated Eli.

Accountable. Predictable. Dependable.

Despite being listed as 6-foot-5, 218 pounds, Manning always seemed smaller in his high school, wide receiver-sized shoulder pads. He had seasons in which he took more pounding than a crash test dummy. Never missed a game due to injury.

Consider the circumstance in which Manning arrived in New York. He forced that trade with the Chargers, which owned the No.1 pick in the draft. The Giants sent the No.4 overall pick and a slew of other picks to San Diego in exchange for Manning.

That’s the closest Manning came to being a prima donna. And really, if you’re intent on becoming a star quarterback, what better place to do it than New York?

When one considers the enormity of that trade, the odds of it becoming a success (for both franchises) was lower than the odds of it being a colossal failure – especially in the Big Apple where everything is bigger.

Manning, with his aw-shucks persona, made it in New York because he didn’t try to be anything other than authentic, which is what hooks a New Yorker every time.

He put on no airs, demanded no special treatment, didn’t romp around the city with a flock of Victoria’s Angels – not that there’s anything wrong with that. It just wasn’t Eli.

Eli Manning and family,on his retirement day, Neil Miller /The New York Extra

He married his beautiful Ole Miss college sweetheart Abby McGrew. They were married in Mexico, just a couple of months after Eli handed the Pats a stunning defeat in Super Bowl XLII. They have four children.

“When we have the whole family together, maybe bath time when I have both kids in the bathtub and they start splashing each other and making each other laugh. That usually gives me my biggest smile — when I see both my girls interacting with each other,” Manning told Parade magazine in 2014.

This is something all the Manning boys – Cooper, Eli and Peyton – got from parents Archie and Olivia: Being a good family man, a good neighbor, a good teammate is more important that being a quarterback.

But Eli did that, too. The Giants need a new quarterback section in the record book. Manning threw for 57,023 yards and 366 touchdowns in 16 seasons. He’s one of just five players to have won Super Bowl MVP honors multiple times.

Eli Manning ,on his retirement day/Neil Miller/The New York Extra

“He represented our franchise as a consummate professional with dignity and accountability,’’ Giants owner John Mara said in a statement. “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.”

Honor. So often our star athletes turn out to be less than what we built them up to be. There’s the arrest on accusations of spousal abuse, or the old Facebook post containing racist comments, or the video of a drunken fool outside of a bar at 4 a.m.

Not Eli Manning. Never Eli Manning.

He gave us his side of the story Friday – “the joy I’ve experienced being a Giant.”

The other side of the story is ours to tell: The joy we experienced watching a helluva quarterback and an authentic man give us everything he had for 16 seasons.

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The Patriots Have a Decision to Make And Its Name is Tom Brady

File photo Patriots QB Tom Brady looks to pass to tight end Ben Watson, right. Photo by David L. Pokress/The New York Extra

ROBBINS NEST

By Lenn Robbins

The end?

Does Tom Brady’s illustrious career end with a pick six that sealed the Tennessee Titans’ stunning 20-13 upset victory on Sunday?

  The greatest quarterback of all time said it’s “pretty unlikely, hopefully unlike,’ that he will retire at the age of 42 after 20 seasons. But maybe the Patriots should consider where they are after the 2019 season and ponder the unthinkable:

Maybe they’re better off moving forward without the GOAT?

Heresy you scream?!

Perhaps. We are talking about an athlete who has been nothing short of remarkable, set a new standard for the position and has been a great, albeit, demanding leading. But no player is indispensable. No organization is more cognizant of this than New England.

File Photo Patriots head coach Bill Belichick Photo by David L. Pokress/The New York Extra

Bill Belichick has a roster of former Patriots that he let go in order to maintain the New England dynasty – Richard Seymour, Chandler Jones, Brandon Cooks, Malcolm Butler. No New England player is untouchable. Belichick was always looking two, three years down the road, which made the trading of quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo such a lightning rod move.

New England had its heir apparent to Brady. Whether or not Brady forced the trade, or there was some friction among owner Bob Kraft, Belichick and Brady won’t be answered until all are out of football, if then.

So here sit the Patriots with a roster that suddenly seems to have more questions than at any time in the recent past. We’ve known all season that Pats desperately needed another outside weapon for Brady and the offense. Rookie N’Keal Henry is applying aloe vera gel to the burns he got from being on the receiving end of Brady’s fury, if not his passes.

But the lack of another weapon wasn’t the only wart we saw yesterday.  The defense, which had been so good early in the season, got steamrolled by Derrick Henry and the Titans. Henry gashed the Pats for 183 yards on 34 carries.

The Pats inability to score took a toll on that defense throughout the season, including Sunday. They were often worn down. Henry became the first running back to rush for 100 yards against the Pats in the playoffs since 2014 when Marshawn Lynch gained 102 in Super Bowl XLIX

The offensive line was solid, only giving up one sack, but Brady was forced off his spot on many occasions. Unlike many of the quarterbacks that played on Wildcard Weekend, Brady doesn’t offer a run threat.

 Led by Lamar Jackson, NFL teams are looking for mobile quarterbacks, even if that just means the ability to slide in the pocket. The Patriots need to take a hard, uncomfortable look at their quarterback heading into the next decade.

 Brady’s contract voids on March 18, the turn of the NFL calendar. The Giants acknowledged wasting $23 million in cap space by giving Eli Manning to extend his time in New York.

“Everybody’s situation on the team is different,’’ Belichick told reporters Sunday morning. “There are no two that are exactly the same, but the future’s the future for all of them just like it is for Tom and anybody else you want to bring up.

“Certainly Tom is an iconic figure in this organization and nobody respects Tom more than I do. I respect all the other players and all the other coaches in this organization, too. I think that everybody that is part of it is an important part of it and I want to give the proper attention and communication and detail and thought into my input into those decisions, but any decision that’s made, it’s not an individual decision.”

New England has a first-round pick, three third-round picks, a fourth-rounder, four sixth rounders and a seventh rounder. There’s a package to be made if New England wants to move up in the draft to take a quarterback.

Or England can decide to stay the course with Brady under center. They can draft a receiver and bolster both lines. This is the easiest decision to make from afar and the most difficult to make inside New England’s practice facility in Foxborough.

“I love the Patriots,” Brady told reporters after the game. “I would say it’s pretty unlikely, hopefully unlikely (I’ll retire). I love playing football. I don’t know what it looks like moving forward.”

Maybe the Patriots don’t know as well.