Former New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning has not taken a break from football in his retirement like some other long-time players might.
As a guest on SiriusXM NFL Radio on Monday afternoon with hosts Bruce Murray and Kirk Morrison, Manning made one thing clear: He is and will always be Giants fan. For that reason alone, he can’t stay away.
“I’m at peace with it,” Manning said. “When I made my decision back in February, I was at peace with it. I can watch it...You miss the players and the locker room and the celebrations and the wins. But waking up on a Monday morning and not being sore or bruised and not having to watch film on the bad plays you made makes it a little easier.”
But 16 years in the league will lead to a number of friendships. Manning stressed that he is going to keep supporting his former teammates.
“I want them to win,” Manning said. “I want to be celebrating for those guys. I want them to win and get back on track.”
The Giants have already dug themselves into a hole though to start off the 2020 season, dropping their first contest to the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 1 and losing narrowly, 17-13, to the Chicago Bears in Week 2. Daniel Jones has three interceptions this season and one fumble. Sunday’s game against the Bears also marked the first contest in his career in which Jones did not throw for a touchdown in a game that he started.
What’s more, star running back Saquon Barkley went down at the start of the second quarter in Sunday’s game and had to be carted off the field. The team confirmed Monday that he tore his ACL and will be out for the season.
Manning though, is no stranger to setback.
“When you’re 0-2, obviously there’s some panic,” Manning said. “But there shouldn’t be any additional urgency. There should always be urgency to win a football game. You try every week to win a game because they are all so, so important.”
As far as Jones, Manning sees promise in the sophomore QB who has had to adjust to a new offense and coaches in his second year in the league.
“I think he’s made a lot of great throws,” Manning said. “I think he’s scrambled around and created plays. I think he’s competing his tail off and the fact that he’s got a new coach, new offensive coordinator and you don’t have a spring to be around these people and to run the plays. And it’s not just him learning this offense. It’s 11 guys and a rookie left tackle and the receiver’s got to learn it also. So it’s just, unfortunately going to take a little bit of time for everybody to come together.”
Manning also sees some of the mistakes that Jones has made as not merely negative, but as proof that the former Blue Devil is competing to the best of his ability every week.
“I think some of the few mistakes that he’s made, unfortunately as the quarterback, the mistakes can be big mistakes or just him competing and over-competing and trying to make plays when things aren’t there,” Manning said. “But I think that’s part of it is being down in some games and you’re trying to fight back and you’re trying to compete.”
Manning has no doubts that Jones will continue to learn and grow from each setback.
“I know he works extremely hard and I got all the confidence in Daniel that he’s going to do everything possible to just keep making improvements,” Manning said. “There’s a lot to get better at and he’ll do those things.”
Though the loss of Barkley is a big blow to the Giants, Manning said that he believes the Giants can get back on the winning track. And winning will help soften the blow of any injury.
“When you lose your best player in Saquon, and I feel for Saquon as a person just because I know how hard he’s worked and his commitment to this year and wanting to have a big year,” Manning said. “So I feel for him for what he’s going through. But the only thing that’s set up that kind of make this a little bit easier and to soften the blow is going out there and having a great week of preparation and winning this upcoming game.”