Stories

The end of the Eli Manning era

Daniel Jones #8 and Eli Manning #10 of the New York Giants are seen during the preseason game against the Cincinnati Bengals
New York Giants' Daniel Jones (L) and Eli Manning (R) during the preseason game against the Cincinnati Bengals on August 22, 2019. Photo: Michael Hickey/Getty Images

The New York Giants are benching Eli Manning in favor of rookie Daniel Jones, meaning Manning's near 15-year run as the team's starting QB appears to be over.

Why it matters: Outside of a brief Geno Smith cameo in 2017, Manning is the only signal-caller the Giants and their fans have known since 2004 — the same year "Yeah" by Usher came out.

  • So, even if the writing was on the wall, Manning's benching was always going to be emotional and delicate.
  • And while there's still a chance he starts again — either for the Giants or someone else — he'll likely never play another meaningful down for the only team he's ever known.

The backdrop: After former coach Ben McAdoo fumbled the team's first attempt at transition 2 years ago (Manning was benched for Smith, then brought back the following week), it was crucial that the Giants get it right this time.

By the numbers:

  • 2 Super Bowls: Manning beat Tom Brady twice in the Super Bowl and is 1 of just 5 players in NFL history to win multiple Super Bowl MVPs.
  • 116-116: Manning has made 232 starts in his career, and he's won the exact same number of games as he's lost. (Past 2 seasons: 8-25.)

What they're saying: On his show "The Herd," Colin Cowherd suggested that Eli would have been benched years ago if he played on the West Coast, rather than the East Coast.

  • My thought bubble: While I don't necessarily agree with that, it's always interesting to compare the two coasts — and it's a comparison we rarely hear applied to sports.

Here's Cowherd:

"I'm from the West and I currently live in the West, but one of the things that always struck me [when I moved to the Northeast] — you would never have a Fenway Park out West. We would just blow it up and start over.
"The East is about 200-year-old churches and 100-year-old baseball stadiums and hierarchy and tradition. ... In the West, we don't romanticize yesterday. ... It doesn't matter what grandpa did or what your dad did.
"Out West, they would have benched Eli Manning seven years ago — maybe five. But out East, it was hard. The Mannings are American royalty, the Giants are a blue-blood franchise, and Eli ... He's 'us.' He's the old church. He's Fenway Park.
"It's just the way the East Coast is. The prep schools and the history and the family trees. It's all wonderful — and it's been holding the New York Giants back for half a decade. It's time."

P.S. ... Here's a fun fact: In 2004, Manning was picked No. 1 by the Chargers and Philip Rivers was picked No. 4 by the Giants … then they got swapped.

  • 15 years later, on the same week that Manning gets benched, Rivers will make his 211th consecutive start — moving past Manning (210) for second-most by a QB, trailing only Brett Favre (297).

Go deeper: The great Daniel Jones experiment (The Ringer)