One last true farewell: Giants waste no time retiring Eli Manning’s No. 10

·6 min read

Eli Manning stood inside MetLife Stadium two weeks ago and said Sunday’s jersey retirement would be “one last true farewell and a thank you to the fans, the organization and all my teammates.”

“I just kinda choose to remember the good times in this stadium, and the good times in my career, and this one will be another one I can add to that memory,” Manning said before the Giants’ home opener, wearing a blue sport coat instead of a blue jersey.

So that is what Sunday’s halftime Ring of Honor ceremony should be for Manning: a heartfelt farewell, an opportunity to reflect on the good times.

His No. 10 will be the 12th number retired in franchise history, right next to another two-time Super Bowl champion QB, No. 11, Phil Simms.

His longevity, two Super Bowls and postseason heroics will always stand the test of time as iconic in both Giants and NFL history.

Manning will celebrate all of that on Sunday.

He admitted in a Thursday Zoom call, though, that the franchise’s futility in his final years became too much, prompting his 2019 retirement.

“I enjoyed the preparation. I could’ve gotten back into that part, but just the losing, the everything, just the grind of it all,” Manning said. “I don’t know if I could have totally got[ten] back into all of that. More just the losses hurt more. They affect your sleep. They affect your week. It affects family life with my wife and kids and it just got too much.”

Manning is doing just fine now, however, and in many ways it’s like he never left.

He is working for the Giants in community relations and marketing. He is on national TV every week, hosting an alternate Monday Night Football broadcast with his older brother Peyton. He has a Frank’s Red Hot endorsement deal and commercials.

Still, everyone in New York and New Jersey will always remember him as “10.”

He is the iron man who made 210 consecutive regular season starts, who was named the NFL’s co-winner of the 2016 Walter Payton Man of the Year Award, who hit David Tyree and Plaxico Burress and Mario Manningham while the world was watching and lifted the Lombardi Trophy twice.

How the No. 10 came to adorn Manning’s jersey when he did all of that is a funny story.

In college, the Ole Miss staff first offered Eli his father Archie’s retired No. 18, since Eli had worn it in high school. Eli declined and instead asked for No. 10, in part because he had never worn it at any level of football before.

“I said, ‘I’ll go 10. I kinda like it,” he recalled.

When Manning got to the Giants, though, punter Jeff Feagles was wearing No. 10. So before Manning met the New York media, he had to quickly work out a price for the exchange.

“And I remember on the way from where I was drafted at Madison Square Garden to Giants Stadium to be welcomed, someone had Feagles on the line and we worked out a deal real quick for a trip to Florida,” Manning said Thursday with a smile.

Manning didn’t want to push for the number if it was going to become a “big story.” So No. 10 almost didn’t happen.

“If it was going to be something outrageous, I probably would’ve moved on and found another number,” he said. “I didn’t know what was available at the time, but it was very easy. I said if I could keep it, I’d like to keep it. And the rest is history.”

The rest is history, and not all of it is good history.

Manning was brutally honest on Thursday about his own shortcomings at the end, admitting that “I wasn’t playing at the level I used to be playing and so it was just time to hang it up.”

And it certainly will feel awkward and uncomfortable if the Giants (0-2) are still languishing through Sunday’s first half against the Atlanta Falcons just before Manning takes the stage.

Nothing will diminish the significance of Sunday for Manning, though: that he and his No. 10 are taking their rightful place in franchise history, and that he gets an opportunity for one last true farewell.


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