The news broke out yesterday that New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning will officially announce his retirement on Friday. After 16 years at the helm for the Giants, Manning leaves the NFL a little better of a place than before he got there. His two Super Bowl wins were memorable and his impact on the Giants and NFL is a big topic of conversation today.
While everyone is discussing his accolades and possible Hall of Fame candidacy, the most important aspects of Manning’s career have been mostly overlooked. Manning was a role model in the truest sense of the word. He was real and charitable, qualities that all professional athletes should aspire to have.
In 2016, he was the co-winner of the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award. Some of the many charitable things that Manning was a part of over his career include, but are not limited to, volunteering after Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, helping to raise money after the catastrophic Deepwater Horizon oil spill as well as raising money for medical centers in Mississippi and New York to help sick children.
Additionally, the impact he has had on a generation of New York sports fans is immeasurable. Go to any Giants game or to any other large area in the New York region and the number of “10” jerseys are too many to count. To the many children who consider Manning their favorite player, he will be remembered fondly by all of them and unlike some athletes, Manning is deserving of their admiration.
Finally, the way he handled himself this past season when head coach Pat Shurmur decided it was time to let rookie quarterback Daniel Jones play was incredible. He could have demanded a trade, as there were some whispers that teams could be interested in bringing him in, but he didn’t. He remained on the team and helped Jones in his development as much as he could. For however long Jones is playing for the Giants, a piece of Manning will still be there.
I am not a New York Giants fan but I have watched many Giants games over the years. I’ve enjoyed watching Manning play and while we knew his days would be numbered once the Giants drafted Jones, it is still sad to see a player of Manning’s caliber and character retire.