Despite longevity, Eli Manning remains open to learning

New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning has experienced both the high and low points of being an NFL player, and everything in between.

Yet when it comes to his craft, the 36-year-old signal caller is always open to learning something new, even if that something comes from people who haven’t “been there, done that” as Manning has.

Despite his longevity, Manning said today that he’s still taking advantage of learning little nuances of the game, nuances that, of all places, are coming from his fellow quarters Josh Johnson, Geno Smith and Davis Webb, guys whose combined experience doesn’t begin to come close to what Manning has accumulated.

“I think whenever you get young guys in, they’re obviously going to ask you a lot of questions, and I encourage the questions,” Manning said during a break in his appearance with teammate Brandon Marshall at the Gatorade Beat the Heat Gatorade “Beat the Heat” program as part of a 7-on-7 tournament at Wayne Valley High.

Manning predictably was generic in describing some of the questions he’s received from Johnson and Smith, both of whom are competing to be his backup this year, and Webb, who hopes to become Manning’s successor. But he did say that the questions his fellow quarterbacks pose often give him pause to where he goes back and looks at things in another way.

“I do like getting questions because it makes me think about scenarios,” Manning said. “If I can teach it and talk about it, it’s going to help me learn. Maybe they see things differently, maybe they have concepts that they ran in college that you can talk about that are similar to what we’re doing—maybe they had a similar route, but this guy ran the route a bit different and it might open thing up mire.

“We can try different things and see if it can help us out. So yeah, you never stop learning the game of football because there’s so many ways to play the game and run route concepts, and I’m excited about the guys we have in the room this year and how we all help each other out.”

As Manning waits to find out who will be on the 2017 team, he took a moment to recall the 2007 Giants championship team, which this year celebrates its tenth anniversary of pulling off one of the most improbable wins in all sports thanks to its 17-13 triumph over the then undefeated New England Patriots.

The Giants reportedly have plans to honor that 2007 championship team at the team’s 2017 home opener, a Monday night affair against Detroit. Earlier this month, many players from the 2007 and 2011 championship teams reunited at Landon Collins’ Celebrity Softball game. There are also likely to be other alumni events coming up this year giving old teammates a chance to reminisce.

Manning recalled the rough start to that 2007, which included losses in their first two games and a near third straight loss that was averted against Washington thanks to a tremendous goal-line stand that turned the Giants season around, and defined the team as being one of the most resilient of their time.

“That goal-line stand to win that Washington game just kind of set the tone for the season,” Manning said. “It was, ‘Hey, it might not always be easy or pretty but we can find ways to win and find ways to tough it out.’ We had a number of games like that—at Chicago, at Buffalo—not pretty or perfect, but found a way to get into the playoffs.”

Once they got to the playoffs, Manning said they were inspired by the constant underdog label given to them by critics who didn’t think that Giants team was going to go very far.

“We probably played our best football during that 4-game stretch of the playoffs and going against an undefeated Patriots team, which was a great squad and no one gave us a chance to step up and win that football game,” Manning said.

Once the Giants begin training camp on July 27, Manning isn’t sure how much he’ll get to mingle with any of his teammates from that 2007 squad who might be planning to return for the festivities, outside of a quick hello and a hug.

“When you win a championship with guys, there’s always going to be a special bond,” he said. “I got to see a bunch of them a few weeks ago at a charity softball game. You automatically go up to them and hug those guys and you just have great laughs with the guys you won a championship with.”

Regardless, he’ll always carry the memories of that season with him as he and his 2017 look to create a few new memories of their own.