Eli Manning may not be the regular starter for the New York Giants anymore, but he apparently still carries a lot clout within the organization.
After leading the team to a 36-20 victory in what may have been his final start at MetLife Stadium, Manning left the field to a standing ovation as fans chanted his name, as they had done throughout most of the game. Afterward, coach Pat Shurmur awarded the 16-year veteran with the game ball.
“There’s not a better feeling than a win in the locker room on a Sunday, boys, so I appreciate this one. It’s special,” Manning told his teammates while lofting the ball in the air. “Let’s keep it rolling, all right? I’ll see you Wednesday.”
With that, the players erupted in cheers. Maybe they were happy to see their beloved leader go out with a big win. Maybe they appreciated the opportunity to let it all out as a frustrating season winds down.
Or maybe they were psyched that they were getting an unexpected day off.
Speaking to reporters later, Shurmur indicated that he usually doesn’t give the team time off at the beginning of the week. But he decided to make an exception this time in honor of his veteran quarterback.
“He kind of jumped” the gun, an amused Shurmur said of Manning. “We asked him to speak and the last phrase of his little speech to the team was, ‘See you Wednesday.’ So I typically don’t do that, but today I won’t argue with him.”
Manning is a two-time Super Bowl MVP who has spent his entire career with the Giants. He was benched earlier this season in favor of rookie quarterback Daniel Jones but has started the last two games as Jones recovers from an ankle injury. Jones likely will be back in the lineup when the Giants wrap up their season Dec. 29 at home against the Philadelphia Eagles.
Manning said repeatedly after the game that he has no idea what the future holds, but he realized Sunday was a special day for him, the franchise and the fans.
“Obviously, the support of the fans and their ovation and their chanting my name from the first half until the end, I appreciate that,” Manning told reporters. “I appreciate that always and my teammates coming up to me. It was a special day, a special win, one I’ll remember.”