“I think Eli Manning is the greatest New York Football Giant of all time.”
That’s former New York Giants placekicker Lawrence Tynes, who played with and lockered next to Manning from 2007-20012, covering the era when Manning led the Giants to a pair of Super Bowl titles.
Former Giants Tynes, Rich Seubert and Brandon London shared some Manning memories with Big Blue View on the eve of Manning official retirement press conference, which is sure to be a mob scene unlike anything I’ve witnessed since beginning to cover the team in 2007.
“Eli’s been a class act since he’s been a New York Giant and he always will be a New York Giant,” Seubert said. “He does things the right way both on and off the field. He’s looked up to be his peers, his teammates, his friends, his family. He’s a good dude all around.”
“Anyone that’s ever played with him or had the privilege of sharing a locker room with him knows what he brings to the table every day,” Tynes said. “He has an enormous amount of respect I think not only in New York, but I think league-wise.”
Tynes lockered next to Manning for six seasons. He saw how Manning was with the media and on game days, and how he was in private or out and about enjoying the company of his teammates.
“I marveled at really how consistent he was as a person. You wouldn’t know if we were on a five-game win streak or a five-game losing streak. He never wavered, good or bad,” Tynes said.
“The most remarkable thing was how stoic and mundane he was. Now, he’s a lot of fun, we all know that, we all saw the flip cup video. In a professional setting he was the ultimate professional.”
“He never let the lowest of lows or the highest of highs get to him,” Seubert said. “He was the ultimate leader in that huddle.”
Tynes said there is more to Manning than the dry persona he showed the media, perhaps evidenced by his various commercials and Saturday Night Live appearances.
“He is a lot of fun, he is personable, he’s fun on the golf course, he’s fun at a bar,” Tynes said. “He had a professional work demeanor and then obviously he knew how to have fun and have fun with his teammates away from the field.”
London, a practice squad player in 2007 who was let go the following season, tells a Manning story that perhaps typifies why the quarterback garnered so much respect from his peers.
“The second or third day I started working with Giants TV [in 2016] after being away from the organization since end of training camp ‘08, I walk by Eli and say what’s up? He stops and goes, “Hey London are you still a male model?” Teammates used to joke on me my rookie year and stuff for modeling in NYC. Crazy he still remembered and threw that joke in years later,” London said.
There was a time, of course, when everyone questioned whether or not Ernie Accorsi was right for making the 2004 trade for Manning.
When did Seubert know Accorsi would be proven correct? He said he knew in Manning’s rookie year, watching from the sideline while recuperating from a grisly broken leg.
“He took some shots his first year playing and he just bounced right back up, got right back in that huddle,” Seubert said. “He proved that he was tough, he proved that he was a leader and over time he just kept doing it day in and day out.”
Tynes joined the Giants in 2007, and there were still questions about Manning at that time. For Tynes, they were answered on that below zero night against the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship Game. Tynes called that the “pinnacle” of his time with Manning.
“The way he played in Dallas and ultimately for me it was definitely that Green Bay game in minus 20 whatever it was,” Tynes said. “Watching him outduel Brett Favre in his backyard in Lambeau Field in the NFC Championship Game really told me or showed us who he was.
“What he did in those elements was pretty remarkable.”
Tynes, of course, kicked the game-winning field goal in that game. He did the same in 2012 vs. the San Francisco 49ers, the other game he said he will always remember.
“The image I have stuck in my head much like everybody else is that picture of him picking himself up and his shoulder pads are all jacked up and his helmet’s kinda hanging off a little bit because he just got hit and driven into the ground,” Tynes said.
“Those two championship games really stick out.”
Seubert will be among the people who attend Manning’s retirement press conference on Friday. He will likely be joined by many current and former teammates, former coaches, family and friends.
“He was my quarterback. He was the last tie that me and my other offensive linemen had with the Giants,” Seubert said. “I’m proud of him, I’m happy for him, he’s got a great family and he’s going to have time to spend with those guys now. It’s going to be different watching the Giants and not seeing Eli go out there.”
Indeed it will.
A message to a special friend.— NFL UK (@NFLUK) January 23, 2020
Osi's Ode to Eli.@OsiUmenyiora @giants pic.twitter.com/Erq1EtwsVc