Last Manning Standing
UNION, N.J. — On a sweltering day a short drive down I-95 from the Giants facility in East Rutherford, Eli Manning was spending his summer break preaching the importance of hydration and heat safety to a group of young football players. Manning bounced between the different age groups of players spread out over the field at Gatorade’s Beat the Heat program at Kean University, but spent most of his time working on technique with the older quarterbacks. Cool as ever, Manning was barely sweating the heat, or the high expectations for the Giants this season. At 35, Eli’s championship window is closing, and the Giants, who’ve missed the playoffs for four straight seasons, spent $58 million on new defenders for 2016 an attempt to get back to the postseason before that window shuts. After his session with the campers, Manning told reporters that the Giants are “definitely” a playoff team this year. The MMQB caught up with Eli to talk about new coach Ben McAdoo, lessons learned from Tom Coughlin and what it will be like to have Peyton as a fan this year.
KAHLER: You are now the last Manning left in the NFL. Are you going to be lonely this season?
MANNING: No I don’t think I will be lonely, I think I’ve got a lot of guys trying to tackle me still. I’m excited for this year, excited to have another fan in Peyton. He’ll be watching my games, and I’ll get him to come to a few of my games. I’m looking forward to it.
KAHLER: Now that Peyton has free time on Sundays, do you think he will annoy you with frequent comments and notes?
MANNING: No, I don’t think so. He’ll be watching, he’ll be a fan rooting for us to win. I think he’ll be a good big brother. I’ll ask him if he sees anything, if we are doing something or I’m giving away anything. I’ll ask him for those types of tips, but I don’t think he’ll be a quarterback from the sideline.
KAHLER: You’re now 35. Is the end of your career near for you? How many more years do you think you can play?
MANNING: No idea how many years I have left. I feel great right now. I’ll just keep saying that I will play five more years until one day I wake up and I know I can’t play anymore. But I feel healthy and excited to go out there. I feel like I’m one of these kids running around out here, like I’m ten years old.
KAHLER: America does not know Ben McAdoo. What are a couple things we should know about the new Giants coach?
MANNING: Coach McAdoo is from Pennsylvania, he is 38 years old, he has two kids. We’ll start there. But really, he loves football, every aspect—talking football, thinking about it, different plays, different schemes, clock management, just anything to find an advantage to win a football game. He lives and breathes it. He’s a fun person to work with every day because he is always going to challenge you and have you thinking about something and having great conversations in the quarterback room about different football circumstances that come up.
KAHLER: Did you ever talk to G.M. Jerry Reese about the defense after last season?
MANNING: I did not. That’s not really my job. My job is to play quarterback and try to score points for the offense and help us win games.
KAHLER: Olivier Vernon told Albert Breer that watching the way you carry yourself with the team, you clearly want to win. He’s been inspired by you. What have you seen from Vernon so far?
MANNING: I've been very impressed by the way he conducts his business. He’s been a leader, and seeing him on the field, getting his starts, he is making us better by the way he practices.
KAHLER: You’ve had eleven straight seasons of starting every game. What’s the key to having such a healthy run like that?
MANNING: Just taking care of your body. Today we are talking a lot about staying hydrated, so that and eating right, training, working out all year long to prevent those nagging injuries that will keep you out of the game. And then of course, just taking the offensive linemen out to dinner a bunch so they block for me.
KAHLER: Why is this Beat the Heat event important to you?
MANNING: Gatorade does a great job of just getting information to kids and all athletes about the importance of staying hydrated. Especially in these summer months when you are training outside, you’re sweating and losing more than just water. You’ve got to replace things. That’s what is great about Gatorade, it has fluids, carbs and electrolytes. Whether you are training or outside on a run, you are losing a lot of things and you need to make sure you are drinking plenty of fluids to stay hydrated.
KAHLER: Three biggest football, or life, lessons you take with you from your years with Tom Coughlin?
MANNING: Preparing for every situation that can come up, working extremely hard and being dedicated to your craft. Those are three things that he demonstrated himself. He loved football and his family, he was committed to it and dedicated to it in every way and he worked extremely hard at all those things and keeping everybody happy.
KAHLER: What do you think Peyton will do next? Football exec or broadcaster?
MANNING: I don’t know. We’ll have to see. I think he’d be pretty good at either one. He’s a guy who is very dedicated, and whatever he chooses to do, I think he will do great at.
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