Of all the things that I thought I’d be talking about on a Wednesday in late November, this is the last one – the New York Giants announced that they have benched Eli Manning.
Wait, what? Even saying it out loud it doesn’t make sense. It’s been a few hours since the announcement and I’m still trying to wrap my head around it.
Forget for a moment that while he’s not having a great year, he’s not having a terrible year either. And that his leading receivers the last two games were Roger Lewis and Tavarres King. And that he’s only 36 years old. And that he’s on a decent contract for a franchise quarterback. And that he’s a 2-time Super Bowl MVP. And has started 210 straight games.
As you can imagine, Eli was pretty busted up about it yesterday:
Right there you can see how much this means to him and how much it hurt him. And that’s the other thing, so far as we know, he’s not physically hurt, so it’s not like they’re taking him aside and saying, Eli, you need to sit because you’re injured.
But if you’re going to do something like this, if you’re going to rip the heart out of the franchise, you better have a good reason and a good plan going forward. Over to you, Ben McAdoo, for the plan going forward: “Geno will start this week. Over the last five games, we will take a look at Geno, and we will also give Davis an opportunity.”
WAIT! WHAT?!? You’re sitting Eli Manning so that you can get a look at Geno Smith? The same Geno Smith who the Jets kicked to the curb? The same Geno Smith who threw 34 interceptions in 30 games? You just benched a guy with 210 straight starts for a guy who missed a team meeting in San Diego because he got “messed up” by time zones?
Eli hasn’t been the problem for the Giants this year. Far from it. Maybe, maybe you could sell me on benching Eli if you wanted to see Davis Webb. But if you want to see Davis Webb, then see Davis Webb. Don’t see Geno Smith. We’ve all seen plenty of Geno Smith. Especially defensive backs.
And even if it is about seeing Davis Webb, if they end up with a top 5 draft pick, are they going to not pick Josh Rosen, Sam Darnold, Josh Allen or Baker Mayfield or because they loved what they saw from Davis Webb throwing to Tavarres King? If a would-be hall of famer like Manning had no chance of winning, throwing it to King and playing behind that porous offensive line, what chance does Webb have?
And that’s before we get into the idea that Eli lobbied for Ben McAdoo to get the job and now McAdoo does him dirty like this? Seriously? But maybe this isn’t on McAdoo. Maybe this goes higher than him. I could say this was the most hideous decision since Ben McAdoo went to the barber, but I won’t. Because this isn’t about personal appearance. This is bigger than that. It’s even bigger than his clownishly oversized windbreakers.
Oh, and speaking of that streak, check this: “Coach McAdoo told me I could continue to start while Geno and Davis are given an opportunity to play. My feeling is that if you are going to play the other guys, play them. Starting just to keep the streak going and knowing you won’t finish the game and have a chance to win it is pointless to me, and it tarnishes the streak. Like I always have, I will be ready to play if and when I am needed. I will help Geno and Davis prepare to play as well as they possibly can.”
Holy freaking crap. Please tell me that’s not true. Please tell me that McAdoo and the team didn’t offer him the chance to play the first half of games so that he could keep the streak alive. That’s actually more insulting than benching him. Of course, they offered him that opportunity. Because they knew he’d never take it. Because unlike the front office, the guy has class. And a clue. And Jerry Reese and Ben McAdoo have neither.
As you can imagine, this whole thing didn’t go down particularly well with former Giant legends on social media:
Brandon Jacobs: Are you bleeping kidding me? Show me a guy with more heart and guts than Eli and I’ll call you a long tongue liar.
Carl Banks: I am very emotional about this Eli BLEEP… The guy who gave you EVERYTHING for better or worse NEVER missing a game and THIS how it ends?? Not #10! He deserves better, He gave is all when BETTER wasn’t there for him.. And this is how it ends?? I hurt for him
Justin Tuck: I’m honestly at a loss for words. As a person that has seen Eli the QB but also Eli the Man, I’m truly pissed about what has taking place today. This decision is one of the STUPIDEST I’ve seen in my time being associated with pro sports #noloyalty #14years #bullbleep
Again, I’m not sure if this is a Ben McAdoo call, a GM Jerry Reese call, or if it comes from higher up than that, but is any of it really worth having Justin Tuck bashing his own organization? You better be damn sure that Geno Smith or Davis Webb is about to be a Hall of Famer if you’re going to do your own Hall of Famer like this and risk all the blowback that comes with it.
And it’s not just former Giants. Steve Smith Sr. weighed in: Wow so Eli Manning get benched. Is it me or is #benmcadoo running out of ppl to throw under the Bus. He’s like a student who didn’t study for a test but keeps saying the teacher just doesn’t like me. No Son you failed yourself. Str8 donkey #facts
I’ve been talking about this for nearly a full segment and I still don’t get it. I don’t get anything about it. It’s so very un-Giant. This is an organization known for getting everything right and they couldn’t have gotten this more wrong.