“Here goes the retirement of a great, great football Giant.”
That was how former Giants head coach Tom Coughlin reacted to news that legendary franchise quarterback Eli Manning will retire following a 16-year career highlighted by two Super Bowl titles.
Manning, 39, is set to hold a news conference Friday, his decision to retire unsurprising after he was relegated to backup duties in favor of Daniel Jones early last season.
“Eli Manning not only is the quarterback on those great teams, but he is the MVP of the Super Bowls,” Coughlin said Wednesday, according to the team’s official website. “He’s an incredible big-game performer.”
It was Coughlin who was on the sidelines when Manning lifted the Giants to two improbable Super Bowl victories over the mighty New England Patriots in 2007-08 and 2011-12, the top highlights of a heavily scrutinized career.
“You talk about a guy that’s great to coach, focused every day, took tremendous pride in preparing, practice, had a great sense of humor, was a cynic in the locker room,” said Coughlin, who was forced to step down as Giants coach in 2015. “But the guys loved him and they loved him for it, and they played for him. The guys that had the opportunity to play with him know what it’s like to be with a guy with as much talent, as much grit, as much determination.”
There had been speculation Manning could sign on with a contender to play next season, but it was largely expected he would retire a member of the Giants.
Manning would have never ended up with the Giants if not for a controversial draft-day trade that brought him to the Big Apple in 2004.
“I learned very early that you evaluate quarterbacks on their ability to win championships, and to do it late in a game when the game is on the line, that they’re able to take a team down the field and into the end zone to win a title,” said former general manager Ernie Accorsi, who traded the rights to Philip Rivers in exchange for Manning after Manning said he wouldn’t play in San Diego, which selected him with the No. 1 pick.
“The second thing is to know that over a period of years, he’s always going to be there,” Accorsi added. Those kinds of quarterbacks always give you a chance to win, and for 16 years, he did that for this franchise. He won championships and he was always there giving us a chance to win. I don’t know how you can ask more from a quarterback.”
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