The old phrase “just when you think you have seen everything..” came ringing in my ears on Tuesday afternoon when I received a note stating that Geno Smith will be replacing Eli Manning as starting QB against the Raiders this Sunday in Oakland. I did a double take and decided to look again. Geno Smith? Is this right?
With the simple announcement came the outrage of emotions of fans, writers, tv analysts, radio show hosts, former and current players on how and why this decision was made. For some the answer is still not clear at all.
As someone as an Eli apologist, I really wanted to wait and not jump into the mass hysteria of emotions that was being displayed on Social media without having facts. Was this a McAdoo decision? Were the Mara’s on board?
John Mara explained the situation at the press conference on Wednesday. “I had had a conversation with Jerry (Reese) a week or two ago about – and I normally don’t speak to the coach directly about which players are playing and which players are not playing. I’ll have the conversation with Jerry. I mentioned to him a week or two ago – ‘don’t you think it’s time that we start to get a look at these other quarterbacks at some point during the games’ and he agreed. Said he had already had a conversation with Ben (McAdoo) about that. Jerry called me on Monday afternoon, I was at a family function in Virginia, to tell me that Ben was going to be speaking to Eli to let him know that he was going to continue to start the game. He’s going to start the game on Sunday, but that at some point Geno (Smith) would come into the game. Tuesday morning, Jerry called me and said that Eli had informed Ben that ‘if you’re going to play Geno in the second half, you may as well just start him. It’s not fair to him. It’s not fair to me and I think that would be the best decision going forward.’ And, he also wanted us to put out a statement announcing that. So, that’s what we did.”
Was Mara surprised from the uproar that ensued after the news broke? “Yes and no. I mean, I expected there to be an emotional reaction from fans. I would say it’s been a little excessive maybe than what I expected. But given what he has meant to our franchise and to so many people for so long, it’s understandable”
Then of course what was his conversation with Eli like.”I met with him this morning and had a good talk with him. It was a very emotional talk and he is obviously not happy with the decision, but he understands it and I told him – I said, my hope here had been that you were going to continue to play, not only to keep your streak alive, but because I was hoping – I didn’t want him to go out like this. But, I understand. I understand his feeling. I respect his decision. He doesn’t want the streak to be tarnished by just getting in for a few series or something. But, I was hoping that he’d come in, he’d play, he’d be playing well, we’d have a chance to win the game and maybe stay in there or something. But, he understands that at some point we have to look at the other quarterbacks because he’s not going to play forever.”
We will go more in depth tonight with more reaction during the second Big Blue Report later today!!
Why would you sit Eli Manning who has been the class of the NFL, your leader, the heart beat of the franchise and a sure fire Hall of Famer? What about the Streak? Eli addressed the fact that Coach McAdoo and Jerry Reese wanted him to continue to play and then come out to evaluate Geno Smith and Davis Webb. Eli was not really having that. “Yeah, I mean I just didn’t think that you start knowing that you’re going to come out of a game to keep a streak alive maybe. That’s not what it’s about. It’s not a preseason game where you’re going to play the start to the half, what’s the next week? A quarter, a series, that’s not fair. That’s not fair to me, that’s not fair to Geno, that’s not how you play. You play to win. You’re named the starting quarterback, you think it’s your job to go win the football game. When you know you’re just going to play a little bit, I didn’t feel like that was the right way to play.”
Eli spoke with the media on Tuesday and was shaken up and holding tears back. This would not stop him from being a leader as he was asked about his support for Geno and Davis. “I told Geno I’d be here for him and I sat down with him today and going over the script and going over plays and just make sure he’s comfortable with everything and knows how to go out there and give him a chance to be successful.”
Eli has been the class of the New York Giants since 2004 and being the leader of this team is something he took personally with pride. He has every right to be disappointed and hurt from the decision that was made because he gave the the team his heart and soul. Now it feels like the final pulse of those championship teams was finally put to rest.
What has amazed everyone on how much of a leader Eli continues to be in the locker by mentoring Davis Webb and Geno Smith. Justin Pugh said he was shocked but never surprised on how good of a teammate Eli is to the guys. “I mean barring injury, I didn’t see any way that Eli Manning wouldn’t be our quarterback. But at the same time, we’re a team and Eli’s gotten right behind Geno (Smith) and had his support, had his back and I think that just goes to show what kind of man Eli is. He was out there taking scout team quarterback reps and not saying a word about it. Like I said, he wants to play quarterback in this game. Eli Manning is still going to be a starting quarterback in the NFL.”
Jason Pierre-Paul knows that this must be difficult for Eli but understands that the game must go on.. “I don’t know when he found out about it, but it was all a shock to us. Like I said, it’s more than an era, do you know what I’m saying? He never missed a game, it was more of an era for him. Eli is a type of guy, he wants to win. He wants to win games, but unfortunately, that wasn’t happening. Like I said, Eli is a great quarterback and the decision was made and we got to go out and play football.”
Some of his teammates gave him the ultimate praise and told the media how much they appreciate him as not only a leader and as a teammate and friend.
Sterling Shepard: “He’s been a huge mentor for me. There’s no better mentor than him. He’s a two-time Super Bowl champion and has been in the league for a long time, he definitely knows what he sees and is one of the smartest players I’ve ever played with. So, I’m still going to him, no matter what the situation is, I’m still going to go to him for advice.”
Davis Webb: “I told him, I said, ‘You’re the best teammate I’ve ever had in my life and you’re the best quarterback I’ve ever seen in my life. So, being with you every day, it’s been a lot of fun,’ and it’s not like it’s over. We’ve still got practice tomorrow and we’ve got five more games, a month, left. Yeah, it’s sad today, it’s going to be tough today, but at the same time, Eli is an unbelievable football player, he’s done some great things for the New York Giants and it isn’t on him and it never will be. It’s a team game, it’s the ultimate team game, it takes all 11 guys on offense, 11 guys on defense and special teams to win a game. So, he’s been a great teammate, he’s been a heck of a quarterback and, again, he’s the best to ever play at this position for this team.”
- We will have more on this topic With Chris Canty and Bear Pascoe tonight on OFF Topic starting at 6pm est.
Did Not Participate in Practice
Pos. Player Injury
LB Jonathan Casillas Neck/Wrist
DT Damon Harrison Elbow
Limited Participation in Practice
Pos. Player Injury
LB B.J. Goodson Ankle
OL Justin Pugh Back
Full Participation in Practice
Pos. Player Injury
LB Calvin Munson Quad
WR Sterling Shepard Illness