New York Giants owner John Mara spoke to the media before Eli Manning announced his retirement Friday morning.
John Mara: Good morning and thank you for being here. This is certainly a day of very mixed emotions for us. It’s sad in one sense because we’re seeing the end of an incredible playing career, and saying goodbye to someone who has been everything you could ask a player to be both on and off the field for the last 16 years.
Yet, we’re also very happy because we get to be here to celebrate that incredible career and we’re also able to witness one of the greatest players in franchise history be able to leave the game on his own terms, having played his whole career as a Giant, something that doesn’t always happen in this business and if anybody deserved that opportunity, it’s Eli Manning.
For the last 16 years, Eli has meant so much to all of us here at the Giants and also to our fans. We all know about the two Super Bowl MVP’s and all of the great performances on the field. But just as important, was the way he conducted himself on and off the field as the consummate professional, always with dignity, always with class.
We all have so many memories of Eli. I just want to quickly mention two of mine. I certainly remember the days leading up to the 2004 NFL Draft, when I was constantly in and out of Ernie Accorsi’s office. We were on the phone, hoping we could pull off that trade with San Diego and what a trade it turned out to be, probably the best trade in franchise history. Eli became the face of the franchise, Super Bowl MVP and as fine a representative as this team has ever had. Ernie, who is here today, I want to thank you for having the foresight and patience and guts to pull off that trade and help build those Super Bowl teams.
I also remember the last game of the 2004 season, Eli’s rookie year, when he took the team down the field at the end of the game in the closing seconds to beat Dallas, it was the last game my father ever saw, and I can remember walking to the locker room with him afterward and him saying to me, “I think we found our guy.” And how right he was.
I want to acknowledge a number of Eli’s past and present teammates, a lot of whom are here today, all of whom played a huge part in his career. I can’t mention all of you because I know I’ll forget somebody, but thank you for being here.
Tom Coughlin, our great coach, who led us to those two Super Bowls and who was so instrumental in Eli’s success. I also want to acknowledge my partner, Steve Tisch, who wanted desperately to be here today, but is under the weather and was unable to fly. Fortunately, Laurie Tisch is here to represent the Tisch family.
Eli, Steve did tell me he has some movie roles in store for you. You obviously made an impression on him with your fine acting in all those commercials you did. He specifically mentioned, by the way, co-starring in Equalizer 3 with Denzel Washington. I guess I missed Equalizer 1 and 2, but I’m sure going to catch number 3 if you’re in it.
I also want to take this opportunity to thank Olivia and Archie Manning for raising such an outstanding son and to Abby, for being so supportive of Eli for all these years. We would not be standing here today celebrating his great career, if not for everything you guys did.
And finally, Eli, what more can I say, thank you for everything you’ve done for the New York Giants for the last 16 years, for being such a role model for our players, for our fans and for everything you’ve done in the community.
We have this game ball to present to you, which attempts to list all of your accomplishments, I’m not sure we got them all in there, but you will always be the ultimate Giant, and we would be honored to induct you into our Ring of Honor next season. And please know this, no Giant will ever wear No. 10 again.