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Valentine’s Views: Leftover Eli Manning stories, more

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A few thoughts for a Sunday without real football, because the Pro Bowl doesn’t count

NFL: New York Giants-Eli Manning Retirement Press Conference Danielle Parhizkaran-USA TODAY Sports

With free agency and the draft coming up sooner than we all might realize, let’s ponder some offseason thoughts about your New York Giants.

A little, well, a lot more Eli

Eli Manning is retired. He’s no longer a Giant. His Hall of Fame eligibility doesn’t come up for five years. At some point, we have to stop talking about him and focus on the 2020 Giants. Not, however, just yet.

When I was in East Rutherford on Friday for Manning’s retirement celebration I had the chance to to talk with or at least listen to several people as they spoke about Manning. What struck me again and again is how often the subject turned away from football and to what kind of man Manning is. I just want to give you some snippets from a few of those conversations.

Harry Carson

I managed to get Carson, the Hall of Fame linebacker, alone for a few minutes. He was easily the oldest former Giant player in attendance, and I asked him what made him want to to be there.

“Respect,” Carson said simply, also pointing out both he and Manning were captains.

“He has done an outstanding job representing the Giants organization and also the Manning family. … I just have a deep respect for Eli and the way that he played and his leadership and the things that he’s been able to do to make a difference in the lives of others outside of football.”

Carson didn’t need a whole lot of prompting to continue talking about Manning the man.

“He did the best he could on the field, but he has also done so much for so many people off the field,” Carson said “Eli has been able to have an impact on people that’s well beyond football.

“As far as I’m concerned he’s already in the Hall of Fame when it comes to being an outstanding individual.”

Eli Manning Announces Retirement Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images

Daniel Jones

The current Giants’ quarterback had a sort of Manning-esque performance of his own on Friday. He sat in the back while Manning spoke, seemingly trying to be as far from the center of attention as he could. When players and coaches were called up for a photo, Jones positioned himself all the way at the end of one row, barely even in the picture.

Jones spoke about he learned from Manning in his year together with him. His answer had nothing to do with football.

“Obviously what he’s done on the field, his accomplishments on the field are legendary. Can’t dispute what he’s done on the field,” Jones said. “But, off the field the way he has carried himself in the community, the way he interacts with people on a daily basis has been a huge opportunity for me to learn. That’s an example for us all in what a real pro looks like, what a real gentleman looks like.”

I asked Jones about the huge turnout of players and dignitaries for Manning’s farewell.

“I think it says a lot,” Jones said. “He’s a legendary player on the field, but I think more than anything it’s how he treats people, how he interacts with people. In my position to come into this organization as a rookie he’s welcomed me. All that says a lot about who he is, the character, who he is as a person.”

Tom Coughlin

The legendary coach was asked how Manning dealt with the adversity of the early part of his career.

“He stuck to his business. That’s basically what he always did. His answer was to go back to work,” Coughlin said. “The everyday with Eli. You just knew the quality of the man … You knew you were going to get his best.”

The coach then volunteered his reason for why so many had ventured to East Rutherford to be part of Manning’s day on Friday.

“I was asked why his teammates feel so endeared to him and it’s because of the nature of the human being,” Coughlin said. “I was proud and honored to be his coach and to work with him on a daily basis for 12 years.”

Ernie Accorsi

The GM who engineered the draft day trade that brought Manning to the Giants in 2004 was asked to re-live that trade and tell the story for probably the millionth time. I asked him simply when it was that he knew Manning was the quarterback he wanted to bring to the Giants. He said simply “right away, the first time I saw him” as a junior at Ole Miss.

Asked if Manning belongs in the Hall of Fame, Accorsi delivered what is pretty much a mic drop line.

“I don’t have a vote, but I obviously think he is,” Accorsi said. “That’s (Hall of Fame) subjective, it’s going to depend on who votes for him. What’s not subjective are the two trophies.”

Joe Judge’s coaching staff

As we sit here at the end of January I have no idea how good Joe Judge will be as a head coach, or how well the group of assistant coaches he is putting together will mesh. What I do know is that I feel really optimistic about the staff that Judge appears to be putting together.

In retrospect, inability to put together top-notch coaching staffs hurt both Ben McAdoo and Pat Shurmur. In my view, that was particularly the case with Shurmur. McAdoo’s biggest issue wasn’t so much the quality of the coaches he surrounded himself with as it was what seemed to be his inability to actually trust them. He didn’t seem open to new ideas.

Judge has leaned on his New England Patriots and Alabama Crimson Tide roots for several hires. Hard to argue with hiring guys trained by Nick Saban or Bill Belichick. He has, though, also been open. He kept many of the best assistants from Shurmur’s staff. He hired a long-time head coach he had no prior connection with in Jason Garrett to run the offense. He trusted Garrett enough to hire a pair of guys (offensive line coach Marc Colombo and defensive backs coach Jerome Henderson) with ties to Garrett from the Cowboys.

I felt that coaching was part of the reason some of the Giants young players didn’t really seem to develop last season. There is no way to know for sure, but looking at the staff Judge appears to be putting together it certainly feels like a quality group that the young Giants should benefit from being around.

Draft talk

I find the upcoming draft to be a really fascinating one for the Giants. We know Judge and GM Dave Gettleman have some common beliefs about personnel. I’m fascinated to see how Judge’s personnel beliefs, and the reality that the Patriots will Bill Belichick have a history of moving around the draft board. That especially applies to moving down, something Gettleman has not previously done.

I’m also really curious to see how the Giants prioritize their needs this offseason. I think it’s going to be fascinating.

Thanks to our podcast listeners

BBV Radio crossed the 100,000 download threshold for the first time this month. A quick thank you to Chris Pflum and Joe DeLeone, who do a terrific show that generally airs three times a week, and to the listeners of both that show and my ‘Valentine’s Views’ podcast. I honestly wasn’t sure we would ever reach this many listeners, so just a thank you to everyone who supports our shows. If you haven’t listened before, find them all here.