Manning, 39, will retire after 16 seasons. He spent most of 2019 as the backup to rookie Daniel Jones, a role he admitted he didn’t like much after the Giants’ ended. He also made it abundantly clear he wasn’t interested in being a backup—for the Giants or another team. Manning was set to become a free agent and the possibility of him continuing his career with another team was slim to none.
Manning holds every significant Giants passing record and is one of only five players in history to win multiple Super Bowl MVPs. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the 234 starts Manning made for the Giants are the fourth most in NFL history by a quarterback for a single franchise.
“For 16 seasons, Eli Manning defined what it is to be a New York Giant both on and off the field,” co-owner and team president John Mara said in a statement on the team’s website announcing Manning’s retirement. “Eli is our only two-time Super Bowl MVP and one of the very best players in our franchise’s history. He represented our franchise as a consummate professional with dignity and accountability.
“It meant something to Eli to be the Giants quarterback and it meant even more to us. We are beyond grateful for his contributions to our organization and look forward to celebrating his induction into the Giants Ring of Honor in the near future.”
Manning was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2004 NFL Draft by the then-San Diego Chargers. Manning didn’t want to play for the Chargers and was part of a draft day trade for Philip Rivers (who was selected by the Giants at No. 4). Manning, Rivers, and Ben Roethlisberger (selected at No. 7 by the Pittsburgh Steelers) are the most successful members of the vaunted quarterback Class of 2004 but No. 10 will be the first to retire.
“I learned very early that you evaluate quarterbacks on their ability to win championships, and to do it late in a game when the game is on the line, that they’re able to take a team down the field and into the end zone to win a title,” Ernie Accorsi, the former Giants general manager who brokered the Manning/Rivers trade, said in a statement. “The second thing is to know that over a period of years, he’s always going to be there.
“Those kinds of quarterbacks always give you a chance to win, and for 16 years, he did that for this franchise. He won championships and he was always there giving us a chance to win. I don’t know how you can ask more from a quarterback.”
Manning completed 4,895 passes for 57,023 yards, and 366 touchdowns, seventh all-time in the 100-year history of the National Football League in each category. His 117 regular season wins is tied for 11th place all-time with Joe Montana and one less than the 10th place QB, Johnny Unitas.
“It was an honor and privilege to coach Eli, and to go through the wonderful and magnificent moments that he and his teammates provided for all of us in the world championship ’07-’08 and ’11-’12 seasons,” former Giants head coach Tom Coughlin said in a statement. “The New York Giants, flagship franchise of the National Football League, have four world championships. You have four trophies sitting there. You have (Phil) Simms, you have (Jeff) Hostetler, and you have Eli for two.
“Eli Manning not only is the quarterback on those great teams, but he is the MVP of the Super Bowls. He’s an incredible big-game performer. You talk about a guy that’s great to coach, focused every day, took tremendous pride in preparing, practice, had a great sense of humor, was a cynic in the locker room. But the guys loved him and they loved him for it, and they played for him. The guys that had the opportunity to play with him know what it’s like to be with a guy with as much talent, as much grit, as much determination.”
On the other hand, Manning did lead the NFL in interceptions three times. He was the active leader in picks with 244 and is ranked 12th all-time. The Giants were 69-50 in Manning’s first eight seasons as the team’s starting QB but regressed to 48-67 in his final eight seasons to give him 117 losses and a .500 record for his career.
He was a four-time Pro Bowl selection but never named an All-Pro. He was never in the running for a league Most Valuable Player award. The Super Bowl MVP he received after Super Bowl XLII could have arguably gone to defensive end Justin Tuck. After winning Super Bowl XLVI, the Giants only made the postseason once.
Manning’s Hall of Fame worthiness will be discussed ad nauseum until at least his earliest enshrinement date in 2025. Some fans and media members cringe at the thought of No. 10 receiving a gold jacket. Shame on them. The story of the National Football League cannot be told without Elisha Manning IV. All he did was compile a stat line that literally only a handful of quarterbacks surpassed in a century. The Super Bowls are just icing on the cake.