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Eli Manning Talks Ole Miss, Jersey Retirement, Life After Football

The legendary Rebel quarterback was made available to media on Thursday.

Eli Manning is having his No. 10 jersey retired at Ole Miss on Saturday when the Rebels play host to LSU, and he is spending time reminiscing on his career as a Rebel.

Manning was made available to media on Thursday at The Inn at Ole Miss, and he discussed how important this day is for both him and his family.

"I'm just excited about it, honestly," Manning said. "I love Ole Miss and loved my time here. Still a fan and watch and root for the team. I grew up an Ole Miss fan, coming to games and coming to the Grove, and to be here for five years and have my jersey retired up there next to my dad and Chucky Mullins is going to be special."

Manning helped lead Ole Miss to a 10-3 record in 2003 with a victory over Oklahoma State in the Cotton Bowl, and once his career in Oxford was over, he took a plethora of memories with him to the NFL.

"I have a lot of great memories," Manning said. "Beating Alabama my sophomore year was pretty special. My junior year, beating Florida here when they were a top-five team in the country. My senior year, being with a lot of guys who came in, and a lot of us redshirted. Having the senior year we did and finishing in the Cotton Bowl was pretty special, as well."

Manning was originally supposed to have his jersey retired last season when Auburn visited Ole Miss, but due to the pandemic, it was postponed to 2021. During the pandemic, Manning made the most of his opportunities with his family.

"We actually spent a lot of that time here in Oxford," Manning said. "Enjoyed being with the family and going through bike rides through campus. Threw some routes on the field to the kids and found a way to enjoy that time. It's been fun teaming up with Peyton again and doing Monday Night Football. We're having fun doing that."

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In his senior season in 2003, Manning finished third in the Heisman voting, and his jersey is being retired in the midst of a Heisman campaign for current Ole Miss quarterback Matt Corral.

"We haven't talked about the Heisman," Manning said. "When I was here, I never talked about it. I'd say for Matt, his focus is just on winning games, and now that Alabama has lost, there's a chance to win the West. Just keep playing and winning games."

Although this opportunity on Saturday is special to Manning personally, he also reflects on what the honor means for his family.

"I hope my parents are proud of me," Manning said, "and I think they'll enjoy that day. I know how they feel about Ole Miss. They love coming back here, and these last 17 years I've been away, they still come back. It is a special place for our family."

Manning's jersey will be retired at halftime of the Ole Miss-LSU game on Saturday. Kickoff is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. on CBS.

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