When news broke on Tuesday, that Eli Manning would no longer be the Giants’ starting quarterback, I planned not to write a post about the matter. I figured that my lengthy Eli post from two weeks ago allowed me to say what I need to say (John Mayer). However, after the past four days, I need to make another post.
I feel like I’m taking crazy pills!!! Nearly every person I know or have heard is ready to tar and feather the Mara family, Jerry Reese, and Ben McAdoo for what has gone down this week with Eli. I, however, am fine with what the Giants have done. Hard-core football fans, casual football fans, Giants fans, Jets fans, Patriots fans, adults, children, Mike Francesa, Michael Kay, Don LaGreca, Bill Simmons, Bill Barnwell, friends of mine, family members of mine, current Giants, former Giants, and lastly Michael Rapaport are all mortified by the Giants’ handling this week of Eli Manning. Like when I told the world that I enjoyed Dumb and Dumber To, I am a man on an island, and that is ok with me.
That said, I am writing this post to express my shock at the level of outrage over the Giants’ decision. I had hoped for several weeks that the Giants would eventually move to see what they have in their other quarterbacks, but I did not think they would have the courage to do it. Eli Manning is likely the best human being in the NFL, and it takes a lot of courage to tell such a wonderful person that he has to ride the pine. I figured that, if McAdoo/Reese/Mara could find the courage to make the decision, most people would react similarly to my view of “I feel terrible for Eli. He has played his heart out as a Giant and has never missed a start. The team around him this year was bad. However, this is the right move for the future of the team.” Wow was I wrong!
Obviously, all Giants fans will forever look fondly upon Eli’s work in leading the Giants to two Super Bowl Championships. Much less obviously, apparently 99% of the world seems to look back fondly on his 32-43 regular-season record over the past five seasons and his 2-9 record this season.
Here are some common refrains I have heard this week and my rebuttals:
- “How can you tarnish a man’s legacy like this?” I am sorry, but the 2-9 season and 4-of-5 seasons below .500 are tarnishing the legacy, not the benching. QBs who go 2-9 and 32-43 tend to get benched.
- “Joe Montana, Dan Marino, Jim Kelly, etc. (fill in the blank with any great QB here) never got treated like this.” Again, those quarterbacks never went had years this bad or five-year stretches this bad.
- “But the team around Eli is terrible!!!” This is true, but Eli has made a bad situation worse, not better.
- “But the Giants will be even worse without Eli at QB!” They are 2-9. Mathematically speaking, it is tough to get worse.
- “How could they ask him to play just one half? That makes a mockery of the game.” Oh yeah, I am sure you would feel sooooooo much better if the Giants had just flat-out benched him without at least giving him this option.
- “How could they go to Geno, not Webb?” True story, there were multiple games this season when I texted people that “Giants would be better using Geno right now”. I said this because a quarterback with at least some mobility would fare much better than Eli behind a porous offensive O-Line.
- “But we saw Geno with the Jets, and he was terrible and a bad leader. He even got punched in the face, and nobody came to his defense.” First of all, he did have some great games as a Jet, including wins over the Patriots and Falcons. He was a second-round pick who has plenty of talent. Yes, he was immature…very immature. However, people can mature. Is it possible that getting clocked in the face and then spending three years backing up class acts like Eli and Ryan Fitzpatrick can make him a better person, leader, and player? I am not saying it is likely, but it could happen.
- “If the Giants were gonna do this, how could they not have Webb ready?” This setup works just fine. If Geno does well, the Giants can roll with him. If he does badly, they can go to Webb. If either one of them ends up looking awesome, the Giants will feel less compelled to draft a quarterback in the first round. Drafting Saquon Barkley or an offensive lineman would not be a bad thing.
- “If the Giants released him today, he would hardly last a second on the open market.” I disagree.
Anyway, among the many who have condemned the Giants this week, Bill Barnwell of ESPN is the only person who has an idea that would have made sense. He says the Giants should have announced that next week’s home game against Dallas would be Eli’s last start. That way, the Giants fans could have bid him farewell in a more respectable manner. I like the idea, but I would have done that in the Chiefs game, so that the Giants could have gotten 6 games to look at their young quarterbacks. However, I am not losing sleep that the Giants did not do this. The Giants will give Eli his due when they put him in the Ring of Honor as soon as his career ends.
Lastly, I have not generally been a big fan of Ben McAdoo. Some of that is because I did not love his play-calling as offensive coordinator. (Whereas I was one of the few who was fine with Kevin Gilbride) Some of that is because, when I look at his face, I cannot help but think of PC Principal. That said, McAdoo has shown me something positive this week. While everyone else is dumping on him, I praise him (and Reese and the Maras) for making a courageous decision.
I should add that I am not writing this post because I hate Eli. I simply have been down this block before. I have said goodbye to Martin Brodeur, Scott Stevens, and Mike Piazza. I am stuck in what seems to be a 4-year-long goodbye to David Wright. These things happen; it is inevitable. Eli, you have been a delight to watch on the field. Your humanitarian work is second to none. As Bill Simmons often discusses, I would love to have you marry my hypothetical daughter or hypothetical sister. In an era with many NFL scandals, you represent everything that is right with football. However, Giants fans, it is time to look to the future.