This moment was not lost on Manning, who acknowledged the crowd as he left the field. Manning is the Giants’ all-time leader in passing yards, touchdowns, and victories. He stopped to take it all in, just in case it was the last time he left the field as a Giant.
“Yeah, I did, I heard them. And, again, I appreciate all the fans, their support this whole year,” Manning said when asked if he heard the crowd chanting his name. “It’s been overwhelming, and for them to support me, support the team the way they have, it’s been special.”
Interim head coach/defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo waited for No. 10 to walk off the field. The two embraced after the Giants won their first game since beating the Kansas City Chiefs on Nov. 19.
“Well, it was for him. I did ask the camera guy, ‘Can you get a picture when I hug Eli?'” Spagnuolo said. “Because, you know, it’s a memory. It’s a memory. We’ve both been through a lot and none more than him with this season, but he never changed. I value that in people that can stay that balanced through ups and downs. He’s had the highest of highs and this was certainly very, very low, but he’s a tremendous competitor and I appreciate him greatly.”
This was a particularly trying season for Manning and the Giants. The team finished with a record of 3-13, worst record in the NFC and second-worst record in the entire league. Manning was benched in favor of Geno Smith in the team’s Week 13 loss to the Oakland Raiders. He finished the season with 352 completions in 571 attempts (61.6 percent) for 3,468 yards, 19 touchdowns, and 13 interceptions.
“Yeah, it’s probably been my toughest year of football, I would say,” Manning said. “Obviously with the losses, with the injuries, with a benching and coming back and uncertainty and everything going on. But really, the losses more than anything probably.
“It’s tough, it’s tough to prepare every week and to put all the effort into it and to not get the outcomes you want. Especially some heartbreakers that we lost early on in the season and then we kind of started losing some of our personnel. So, it’s been tough, but hopefully we learn from it and grow from it.”
Manning also had a moment with new general manager Dave Gettleman outside the Giants’ locker room. Gettleman congratulated Manning on the victory and said that they will sit down and have a conversation about Manning’s future soon.
Manning, who turns 37 on Wednesday, is ranked sixth on the all-time career passing yards list and eighth in career passing touchdowns. He has two years remaining on his contract. The Giants own the second overall pick in this April’s NFL Draft and drafting a quarterback to succeed Manning is the prudent move to make.
Gettleman said they cannot have too many good players at one position when the subject of drafting a quarterback was brought up. He also seems to want to include Manning in the team’s plans going forward. Manning wants to remain with the Giants but said he will “see what happens” in regards to his NFL future.
“Well, I think we’ve just got to see what happens,” Manning said. “So, again, when we talk, I always think the talks in person are more important than what’s said in the media. So, we’ll have a discussion and I look forward to that…I don’t want to go play football anywhere else. This is where I want to play, this is my family, the New York Giants. So, hopefully they feel the same way and we can make that work out.”