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Handling of Eli Manning shows Giants have lost their way

An organization built on class, loyalty and respect didn’t show any of those things to the franchise quarterback

NFL: Los Angeles Rams at New York Giants
John Mara
Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

In one of the many posts written Tuesday about the benching of quarterback Eli Manning by the New York Giants, I said that coach Ben McAdoo and GM Jerry Reese should be ashamed of themselves for doing this to the best quarterback the franchise has ever had.

I’m not sure I made clear that the people who should really be ashamed of themselves today are co-owners John Mara and Steve Tisch. Not only for allowing this reprehensible treatment of a franchise icon, but for what they have allowed the New York Giants to become.

The Giants have quite clearly lost their way.

For years, I have listened as players new to the organization talk about how different the Giants’ organization is. How everyone treats them with respect. How being a Giants feels like something special.

For years, we have seen former players proudly maintain their allegiance to an organization that has won four Super Bowl titles. Former players are always around the team. “Once a Giant, always a Giant” is the phrase you always hear.

Well, the visceral reactions of many of those former players on Tuesday — Carl Banks, Lawrence Tynes, Justin Tuck, Shaun O’Hara, David Diehl, Osi Umenyiora, Brandon Jacobs among them — tells you they don’t recognize this version of the Giants.

Neither do I.

Manning’s time as Giants’ quarterback had to end some day. He hasn’t been good this season. And yes, I’m on record as having said that rookie quarterback Davis Webb needed to play some before the season ended. There are solid football reasons for wanting to see at least a bit of Webb before this lost season concludes.

Manning’s tenure as franchise quarterback, though, should not have ended this way. Not with a slap in the face from a lightweight head coach who should be fired at season’s end. Not when ownership cited tradition, or what is often referred to as the “Giants Way,” for not making a coaching change during the season.

The Giants consider themselves a class organization, a pillar of the league run in a fashion that should be an example for others.

  • That class organization scapegoated a Hall of Fame, two-time Super Bowl winning coach, in Tom Coughlin. Rather than fix the real problem, the rosters Coughlin was told to try and win with, they ran him out of town.
  • That organization signed Josh Brown despite knowing there were domestic violence allegations against him. Then, stuck its collective head in the sand and tried to justify that decision when the whole sordid mess became public. Only when the situation became too toxic did the Giants finally cut ties with Brown.
  • This organization for years now has made excuses for, rather than deal with, the unprofessional behavior of Odell Beckham Jr.
  • This organization believed it was a good idea to sign Brandon Marshall, a player who had trouble with teammates at every previous NFL stop, and who four NFL teams couldn’t wait to get out of their locker rooms.

“Let's be honest, we've lost some credibility as an organization," is part of what Mara said when the Giants let Coughlin go.

Now, they have done this to Manning. That doesn’t exactly help their credibility.

It actually shouldn’t come as a surprise that this is a move McAdoo would want to make. My impression is the head coach has never been a big Manning fan, and he’s spent the better part of the past year lobbing grenades at the quarterback.

The coach began criticizing the quarterback way back in March when he said was an “easy one-liner” to blame the offensive line and that Manning needed to “do a better job of playing with fast feet.”

During the season, McAdoo criticized Manning for a delay of game penalty against the Detroit Lions and has not hesitated to point out missed throws.

This is either McAdoo knowing he’s coming back next season and wanting to move to the future. Or, it’s McAdoo being almost certain he’s out the door and vengefully wanting to take Manning down with him.

No matter, the way this was handled is a stain on a Giants’ organization that at least used to value loyalty and respect.