Elisha Nelson Manning IV
by John Delach
December 15, 2019: MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, NJ:
An early pre-winter “Hawk” made its presence known today by howling through the MetLife parking lots reducing tailgate tents into scrap heaps. Undaunted, we the tried and true faithful Giants fans gathered one last time in another season of our discontent. It is practically a foregone conclusion that Pat Shurmur, the team’s head coach will be fired at the end of the season, just two more weeks away. The team was 2 and 12 going into today’s contest; a miserable season for sure.
Eli Manning has been our quarterback of record for 16 seasons, a team captain and the winner of the Walter Payton award as the NFL’s Man of the Year. This award recognized Eli’s dedication to curing juvenile cancer.
He was benched after the second week of the 2019 season in favor of Big Blue’s Number One draft choice, Daniel Jones, out of Duke University.
And so it goes…the inevitable passing of the torch to the new kid on the scene from the old king whose diminished skills left management, the coaches, his teammates and the fans wanting.
Elisha Manning’s talents may still have been enough to produce a winning season if he had been surrounded by talented players. Unfortunately, the 2019 Giants are a bad football team that loses consistently. They manage to snatch defeat from victory every chance they get while repeating the same mistakes game after game.
Young Mr. Jones began fresh and new winning his first two games only to have reality return with a thud that led to a nine-game losing streak. During that ninth loss, Jones suffered a high-ankle sprain that relegated the young man to ranks of those unable to play.
Eli was temporarily reinstated as the starter for the Monday night contest against the Philadelphia Eagles in the City of Brotherly Love on December 9. Eli started smartly throwing two touchdown passes that generated a halftime lead of 14 to 0.
Unfortunately, every football game has two halves and the Giants did nothing in the second half while the Eagles scored 14 points of their own tying the game at the end of regulation time. The Eagles then proceeded to win the game in overtime: 20-14.
Coach Shurmur knows the season is effectively over and I believe he decided to give Eli one more chance at glory in today’s contest against the Miami Dolphins. After a shaky start that included throwing three interceptions and a Miami lead of 10 to 7 at halftime, Eli shook off the cobwebs and went to work. He led his glorious eleven offensive teammates to four touchdowns in the second half and a final score of 36 to 20.
One play into the Giants last possession with 1:50 left on the clock, Coach Shurmur pulled Manning from the game showcasing Eli to the media, his teammates and the faithful who gave him a standing ovation while chanting Eli Manning, Eli Manning, Eli Manning…
This Most Valuable Player Super Bowl XLII and XLVI took it all in as he hugged his teammates and coaches. We continued to stand and chant his name after the game ended for as long as he remained on the field. In a way, we were celebrating his last hurrah.
Even though two games remain, one next week in Washington DC and the last game at home in MetLife Stadium once again against the Eagles, I expect that Jones will resume his career while Eli returns to the sideline. I hope so as Eli achieved all that was left to achieve against the Dolphins.
Eli summed up his feelings:
“I don’t know what the future is. I don’t know what lies next week let alone down the road. The support of the fans and their ovation, chanting my name, from the first snap to the end I appreciate that. I appreciate them always. Special day, special win and one I’ll remember.”
Eli will soon leave the pro football stage, but we will see him in the future, first when his brother, Peyton enters the NFL Hall of Fame and again, when he follows in Peyton’s footsteps.
Thank you, Eli Manning.