This was exactly how Eli Manning was supposed to go out, with a win.
The 2017 season, from start-to-finish, was an absolute nightmare for the New York Giants, but the year’s final day gave the long-time Giants signal-caller the send-off he properly deserved.
The Giants not only earned an 18-10 victory over the Washington Redskins, but as the final minute of a brutal season ticked away, the frozen faithful at MetLife Stadium broke into a chant of their beloved quarterback’s name. After some on-field photographs, fans gathered near the tunnel to salute their quarterback one last time. It was the perfect farewell.
But Manning, revealed to the media after in his postgame press conference that, if it’s up to him, Sunday wasn’t a farewell of any sort.
“I don’t want to go play football anywhere else. This is where I want to play. This is my family, the New York Giants,” Manning said. “Hopefully they feel the same way, and we can work something out.”
With the Giants hiring an architect to oversee perhaps the biggest rebuild in the franchise’s 93-year history in general manager Dave Gettleman, Manning’s future status has been one of the hottest topics melting the New York ice. In his introductory press conference on Friday, Gettleman revealed, for the time being, Manning is part of the team’s 2018 plans.
The youngest Manning brother, who said he hopes to sit down in person with Gettleman, is on board with that.
“I don’t know what soon is, but we’ll talk soon,” he said. “I hear what he said Friday (but) I wanted to finish the season and I knew we’d talk some time and figure out what direction he wants to go in. Hopefully, I’m part of that plan.”
A quarterback who has experienced both the best and worst of times in a New York Giants uniform, Sunday showed that Manning still has plenty left in his tank, performing admirably on an afternoon where he was missing his top five receivers. His first quarter touchdown to Hunter Sharp, the 50th receiver to catch an Eli touchdown pass, paced the Giants to victory, their final six-pointer of this season.
On an afternoon where many wanted to see rookie Davis Webb earn his first NFL snaps, the cheers were instead reserved for Manning, the small MetLife contingent celebrating a rare 2017 win and perhaps a last chance to cherish a man who will undoubtedly be the last New York Giant to wear the number 10.
True to form, however, Manning downplayed the chants, while showing appreciation to his supporters, who came out in droves when Manning’s streak of 210 consecutive starts was snapped by an organizational decision to start Geno Smith for the Giants’ visit to Oakland earlier this month.
“It felt good just to get the win after a tough year, a lot of tough games,” Manning said. “To get this win, I feel good for (interim head coach Steve Spagnuolom for all the coaches. It may not mean a whole lot to get the third win, but it does mean something to the players. Guys have been working hard, they’ve been competing, giving a great effort all year. It felt good to just get a win, feel good in the locker room, have some cheers, have some hugs.”
Beginning the Gettleman era 1-0, it’s unknown whether Manning, who turns 37 later this this week, will continue his new streak (four games and potentially counting) in blue. Other squadrons, like Jacksonville and Buffalo, have been labeled as potential destinations for the veteran.
But Manning, based on his comments, knows there’s only one shade of blue for him.
“I just appreciate the fans, especially the fans in a tough year in this situation,” Manning said, praising the fans one last time. “Cold, not playing for much, coming to this game and cheering for us. I appreciate that.”