Yesterday, for the first time in more than 13 years, Eli Manning was not the starting quarterback for the New York Giants. Manning, who had started 222 consecutive games (including playoffs), was benched by coach Ben McAdoo and replaced by Geno Smith, who led the Giants to a 17-24 loss to the Oakland Raiders. Most NFL fans and analysts criticized the Giants for ending Eli’s starting streak and showing such little respect to a quarterback who has not only shown remarkable consistency but also won the team two Super Bowls. In fact, Eli’s father Archie Manning revealed that even Tom Brady Sr., the father of Eli’s biggest career rival, felt Archie’s son was being treated unfairly.
“He wrote me a beautiful message about what Eli has meant to the Giants and to the league,” Archie told ESPN’s Ian O’Connor in an interview on Sunday. “His email summed up the way Eli has carried himself during all of his years with the Giants and how that type of thing is important in our league at a time when maybe some of those things are breaking down. It was very meaningful to us.”
Given the fact that Archie’s son beat Tom Sr.’s son twice in the Super Bowl — not to mention Brady’s historic rivalry with Archie’s other son — it may seem a bit surprising to see the elder Brady defend Eli so passionately. However, Eli has always been a shining example of class and professionalism in the league, which may explain why several current players have spoken out to support Eli in the last week, including Brady himself.
Despite Tom Sr.’s emotional support, Eli’s future with the Giants and football, in general, remains unclear. His dad speculated that he may retire at the end of the season but after yesterday’s game, Eli insisted he was planning on playing next season. With the 2-10 Giants primed to take a quarterback with their early first-round draft pick, Eli may have to leave New York to avoid spending the rest of his career on the bench.