Giving thanks to Manning

Eli Manning's retirement should be a celebration, not a time of mourning or a day of poignance.

Longtime Giants quarterback Eli Manning will talk to the media for the final time in his playing career on Friday. He will be saying good-bye to Giants fans, his former teammates and the writers who covered him. He will publicly say he is retiring for good.

Here’s hoping Friday does not turn out to be a day of poignance. That ship sailed a long time ago when Manning struggled the last few years. It should be a day of celebration of what he meant to the Giants franchise and the NFL for 16 seasons.

The Giants quarterback represented himself and the organization well on and off the field. He conducted himself with class by taking accountability after losses and never bragged about himself when times were good. He achieved so much such as being a two-time Super Bowl winner and two-time Super Bowl MVP. He threw for 366 passing touchdowns and 57,023 passing yards. Most impressive feat to me would be him being injury-free all these seasons, especially in the final years of his career when he played behind a porous offensive line.

Remember Manning did not die or suffer CTE of sorts. He leaves the game in good health. He can be with his kids as they prepare the process of growing-up. He did all he accomplished in the NFL and with the New York Giants.

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It’s just a good-bye to the NFL. Rest assured, we will see him and hear from him in functions and so many events such as the Giants Ring of Honor. We just won’t see him on Sundays anymore in the fall, and after 16 seasons, he should enjoy his life.

Manning lived a good life. He played in the nation’s biggest market, and he played in front of a passionate fanbase. He did so much winning here, which is something his father Archie Manning couldn’t do in New Orleans. He leaves the game well-respected by his teammates and his contemporaries, and he will be remembered fondly by Giants fans.

There’s not much he can do. Sure, it would have been nice if he kept playing like Tom Brady, but life does not work that way. Considering so many players retiring early because of concussions, Manning should be thankful to go out now after playing for so long. It was past time for him to move on.

Manning doesn’t even have to say things happen where he would try his best not to feel sorry for himself. He knows the game has been good to him, and vice versa. He didn’t retire with no rhyme, no reasoning, no warning and no time to say good-bye. He did not have to get up from bed and wake up to the realization he lost it all of a sudden. He knew it was over for him as soon as the Giants drafted Daniel Jones to be heir replacement. The Giants did not draft their quarterback of the future just to hold the clipboard forever.

Manning leaves the game as a millionaire and being set for life. He can get a free drink and a free meal if he chooses in any establishment in New York, New Jersey and Southern Connecticut if he chooses.

Yes, the dark days of Giants won’t go away anytime soon as long as John Mara and Dave Gettleman run this sorry franchise. Maybe that’s why it’s poignant that Manning leaves. He represented the only good thing about this franchise.

Remember the Giants weren’t exactly a great team until then-Giants general manager Ernie Accorsi traded up and gave up all the draft picks to the then-San Diego Chargers to get his guy with the help of Manning orchestrating the trade. The Jets were more popular than them back in the day. When Manning took off, so did the franchise. So many playoffs appearances. So many relevant games in the season. So many championships. So many national television games.

He served as the last vestige of what it used to be around here.

No wonder Friday should be served as a celebration because those were good times. We may not have appreciated enough than we should. Yes, the Super Bowl runs were fun, but we never really enjoyed it because we were so stunned at how the Giants upset so many teams to get there.

Who knows if the Giants will have those moments again?

Friday should be known for a great moment in a sense he graduated from the hard knocks of life that is the National Football League. He grew up to be a man and a father just like that. He turned out to be a winner. He will be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

His loss will be our loss.

We will miss his passion, his self-depreciation, his deadpan manner and his steely determination.

But there’s no reason to cry for him on this special day.

We should be happy that he left on top.

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