For the first time in years, there is no member of the Manning family on an NFL roster.
Eli Manning, the 38-year-old quarterback for the New York Giants, will announce his retirement from professional football at a news conference on Friday, bringing an end to a 16-year career.
“For 16 seasons, Eli Manning defined what it is to be a New York Giant both on and off the field,” said the Giants president and CEO, John Mara, in a statement on the NFL team’s website.
“Eli is our only two-time Super Bowl MVP and one of the very best players in our franchise’s history,” Mara added, praising Manning for representing the Giants “as a consummate professional with dignity and accountability.”
“It meant something to Eli to be the Giants quarterback, and it meant even more to us,” Mara continued. “We are beyond grateful for his contributions to our organization and look forward to celebrating his induction into the Giants Ring of Honor in the near future.”
Manning played his entire career with the Giants after he was picked by the San Diego Chargers in the 2004 NFL Draft. But after telling the franchise he wouldn’t play for them, the Chargers traded Manning to the Giants.
“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 the general manager who traded Manning, Ernie Accorsi.
“The second thing is to know that over a period of years, he’s always going to be there,” Accorsi, who retired in 2006, 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.”
“I also called Eli the complete package, and he was,” Ernie Accorsi, the Giants’ former general manager, told the New York Times of trading for Manning. “I did write that he wouldn’t be a fast runner, but I said he had good feet — good enough to get out of trouble like Joe Montana did.”
At the start of his career, Manning would be overshadowed by his flashier older brother, Peyton Manning, with many doubting whether he would live up to the hype.
“I never wavered on him,” Accorsi said. “I had been through this before with young quarterbacks. John Elway in his first game lined up behind the guard instead of the center on one play. So I understood what was going on. I didn’t expect a lot… People always ask me what I saw in Eli when he was young. … I didn’t see stats. I saw a leader. I saw championships. That’s what he was brought here for, not stats.”
But Manning would solidify his legacy and surpass all expectations in 2008 when he led the Giants to an upset victory over Tom Brady and the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLII.
The Patriots had entered the game as overwhelming favorites, having gone undefeated the entire regular season and playoffs. All that was left was to win the Super Bowl.
With the Giants down 14-10 with minutes left in the fourth quarter, Manning threw to receiver David Tyree, who caught the ball with one hand and used his helmet to secure it. The drive led to a game-winning touchdown, and Manning was named Super Bowl MVP.
The Giants and Patriots met again in Super Bowl XLVI, where they once again trounced New England, this time with a score of 21-17. Eli also earned his second Super Bowl MVP award.
In 2017, Manning was named a co-recipient of the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award, one of the league’s most respected honors.
“This is very special,” Manning said at the time. “To be mentioned in the same sentence with Walter Payton and to see the amount of people that we’ve helped with the great work we’ve done over the years with my family, and for that to have grown as much as it has and be recognized for this award, is special.”
Manning — who shares three daughters and a son with wife Abby McGrew — earned the recognition for his charity work with the New York March for Babies and other organizations.
“My commitment is to help sick kids,” Manning said while receiving the award. “Their struggle isn’t easy, but their spirit, their laugh, their smile, and their belief that everything will be okay continually amazes me, and hurts me at the same time. If we and the NFL and others in our communities commit to step in, we can lessen that struggle, ease that hurt, spark that hope.”
“I challenge everyone here to help some person in need,” he added. “You choose. But go out of your way to make a difference in someone’s life. I promise you, it’s worth it.”