The University of Mississippi and its football program has long hitched its PR wagon to the Manning Family. In recent years, that’s meant Eli Manning as much as his famous father, and with good reason. Manning is a two-time Super Bowl winner and MVP playing quarterback in the nation’s No. 1 media market.
Eli Manning has become one of the most famous and recognizable athletes in the past 10 years.
On Tuesday, the Giants organization announced Manning would not start for the first time since November 21, 2004. If you’re counting, that’s 210 consecutive games under center.
Manning took the news hard, as you can imagine. He was visibly emotional in the locker room, but handled the decision with grace. The decision to sit the face of the franchise was widely criticized in New York and beyond.
Manning hasn’t played his best football this season, but he’s hardly been the reason why the Giants are looking at their worst season in years. He currently holds a 62.5 completion percentage with 14 touchdowns, seven interceptions and an 84.1 quarterback rating. That quarterback rating rates 24th in the NFL.
But also not so bad that there’s any reason to believe his backup Geno Smith, or rookie Davis Webb, represent an upgrade. The official reason given by the team for his benching is to “evaluate other quarterbacks on the roster.”
The elder Manning spoke with his son yesterday about the decision. He told a statewide audience on “Head to Head Radio” in Mississippi he was proud of his son.
“He [Eli] called me and told me that coach [Ben] McAdoo was going to start taking him out during the games,” Archie Manning said.
Like any good dad, he’s always on the look-out for his son. Eli Manning went on to describe to his father one of the reasons the team kept starting him was to allow his consecutive starts streak to grow; the younger Manning was not going to allow that to happen.
Archie Manning recalls the phone conversation, with his son replying, “I don’t want to start because of a record. It tarnishes the record.”
At the end of the day, the elder Manning respects his son’s decision.
“I told him I was proud of him,” he said. “This crushed him, but I tell people I don’t think any player in the NFL enjoys playing for their team as much as Eli enjoys playing for the Giants.”
The Giants are currently 2-9 and could have their worst season since going 4-12 in 2003. McAdoo intends to start the former New York Jets quarterback Smith instead of Manning for Sunday’s game at the Oakland Raiders.
(You can follow Brad Logan on Twitter @BradLoganCOTE)
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