Manning, who turned 39 on Jan. 3, said during his retirement news conference that he took pride in being able to spend his entire career with one organization.
“Well, I think it was important for me to out as a Giant, and I think when you get drafted and you come to an organization, I think that’s always your goal to stay with one organization your entire career,” Manning said.
“As you get towards the end of it, it doesn’t always work out that way and you still have desires to play sometime, but I think it was important,” Manning said. “The fans, the organization, this family with the Giants, has been so remarkable. I think it was the right thing to call it a career and to end it instead of trying to uproot my family and leave and try somewhere else. This was the right decision, and I know it is and I’m at peace with it. I think that’s what has made this day a little bit easier.”
Manning, who rarely shows any kind of emotion, sniffled a little during his six-minute speech. After the speech was over, he took questions from the media members present, posed for pictures with his wife and four children, shook hands, and walked off the stage with his family and friends.
It was classic Eli. There was no pomp and circumstance. The presser was simple and to the point, exactly what is expected from someone who has lived his life in the spotlight but never seemed to relish it or even need it.
“It’s impossible to explain the satisfaction, the joy, I’ve experienced being a Giant,” Manning said. “From the very first moment, I did it my way. I couldn’t be someone other than who I am. Undoubtedly, I would have the fans, the media, even the front office more comfortable if I was a more ‘rah-rah’ guy, but that’s not me.
“Ultimately, I truly believed my teammates and the fans learned to appreciate that. They knew what they got was pure, unadulterated Eli. I don’t have any regrets, and I won’t look in the rearview mirror.”
Manning played more games in a New York Giants uniform than any other player. His 210 regular season consecutive starts streak is the third-longest in NFL history. He finishes with 4,895 completions (seventh all-time) on 8,119 attempts (sixth all-time) for 57,023 yards (seventh all-time) and 366 touchdowns (seventh all-time).
His regular season record is 117-117. The Giants won three NFC East titles (2005, 2008, 2011) with Manning as the starter and made six postseason appearances (2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2011, 2016). Manning’s postseason record is 8-4, including victories in Super Bowls XLII and XLVI. He was named to four Pro Bowls (2008, 2011, 2012, 2015).
Manning holds virtually every significant Giants franchise passing record including completions, passing yards, and touchdowns. In the 2011 season, he set records for most fourth-quarter touchdowns (15), most game-winning drives (8), and most passing yards in a single postseason (1,211).
Manning truly “did it his way” without speeches invoking fire and brimstone or saying much to the media. He went about his business in a quiet, methodical manner combined with an “Aw Shucks” mentality that belied a sharp, sarcastic wit.
Co-owner and CEO John Mara referred to Manning as one of the greatest players in franchise history and said he will be inducted into the Giants Ring of Honor in the 2020 season.
“And, please know this, no Giant will ever wear No. 10 again,” Mara said.
Manning plans to remain in New Jersey with his family. The New Orleans native and former Ole Miss product referred to himself as a New Yorker after spending the last 16 years in and around the Big Apple. He is open to the idea of joining the Giants in a non-coaching capacity but is still undecided about his future plans.
“I don’t know. I think these last few weeks as I made this decision, I really didn’t think much about going forward,” Manning said. “I think a lot of my time was spent just reflecting on these past 16 years. I talked to a lot of coaches, a lot of former teammates. We had a lot of laughs, a few cries, just about the great moments. And so, I think my focus has been on that.
“You know, I look forward to a little downtime. I look forward to spending time with my family, coaching (daughter) Ava’s third-grade basketball team, assistant coach, and just being involved with my wife Abby and getting to do some things that I’ve missed out on because of this job and occupation and dedication I gave to it. I think I’m going to take some time and just enjoy it and then figure out what my next steps are.”
Those present for Manning’s press conference include former teammates Plaxico Burress, David Diehl, Mark Herzlich, Brandon Jacobs, Hakeem Nicks, Shaun O’Hara, Rich Seubert, Michael Strahan, Amani Toomer, and David Tyree; current Giants Daniel Jones, Evan Engram, and Sterling Shepard; his college coach David Cutcliffe, former head coach Tom Coughlin, and former general manager Ernie Accorsi.
Manning wrapped up his speech as quickly and concisely as possible—once again, doing it his way.
“For most of my life, people have called me ‘Easy’,” Manning said. “Believe me, there was nothing easy about today. Wellington Mara always said, ‘Once a Giant, Always a Giant’. For me, it’s “Only a Giant’. Thank you so much.”