Breaking: Eli Manning Announces His Retirement

Patricia Traina

Giants quarterback Eli Manning is calling it a career.

Manning, for whom the Giants traded in 2004 in what was a historic move for the franchise, announced Wednesday evening via the team that he will end his 16-year NFL career as a member of the only team for whom he's ever played.

“For 16 seasons, Eli Manning defined what it is to be a New York Giant both on and off the field,” said John Mara, the Giants’ president and chief executive officer in a statement released by the team.

“Eli is our only two-time Super Bowl MVP and one of the very best players in our franchise’s history. He represented our franchise as a consummate professional with dignity and accountability. It meant something to Eli to be the Giants quarterback, and it meant even more to us. We are beyond grateful for his contributions to our organization and look forward to celebrating his induction into the Giants Ring of Honor in the near future.”

“We are proud to have called Eli Manning our quarterback for so many years,” added Giants chairman and executive vice president Steve Tisch.

“Eli was driven to always do what was best for the team. Eli leaves a timeless legacy with two Super Bowl titles on the field and his philanthropic work off the field, which has inspired and impacted so many people. We are sincerely thankful for everything Eli has given our team and community. He will always be a Giant among Giants.”

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Manning, who will meet the press for one last time as a member of the team during a press conference to be held Friday, was drafted by Ernie Accorsi, who famously wrote in his scouting report of Manning, then a student-athlete at Ole Miss, that “If he comes out early, should move up to take him. These guys are rare, you know.”

So convinced was Accorsi that Manning was the real deal that he lobbied Giants team ownership to sign off on the move, which would have necessitated sending significant assets to the San Diego Chargers to acquire Manning, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2004 draft.

“I learned very early that you evaluate quarterbacks on their ability to win championships, and to do it late in a game when the game is on the line, that they’re able to take a team down the field and into the end zone to win a title,” said Accorsi, who sent quarterback Phillip Rivers, the Giants' No. 1 pick, the Giants' third-round pick in 2004, and their first- and fifth-round selections in the 2005 draft to acquire Manning.

“The second thing is to know that over a period of years, he’s always going to be there. Those kinds of quarterbacks always give you a chance to win, and for 16 years, he did that for this franchise. He won championships, and he was always there, giving us a chance to win. I don’t know how you can ask more from a quarterback.”

Together with Tom Coughlin, whom the Giants hired in 2004, Manning helped usher in a new era of Giants football that saw two Super Bowl championships in 2007 and 2011, and which saw Manning never miss a game due to injury for the team.

“It was an honor and privilege to coach Eli, and to go through the wonderful and magnificent moments that he and his teammates provided for all of us in the world championship ‘07-‘08 and ’11-’12 seasons,” said Coughlin, the Giants head coach until 2015.

“The New York Giants, flagship franchise of the National Football League, have four world championships You have four trophies sitting there. You have (Phil) Simms, you have (Jeff) Hostetler, and you have Eli for two. Eli Manning not only is the quarterback on those great teams, but he is the MVP of the Super Bowls.

"You talk about a guy that’s great to coach, focused every day, took tremendous pride in preparing, practice, had a great sense of humor, was a cynic in the locker room. But the guys loved him, and they loved him for it, and they played for him. The guys that had the opportunity to play with him know what it’s like to be with a guy with as much talent, as much grit, as much determination. Here goes the retirement of a great, great football Giant."

Manning, the holder of nearly all of the franchise's passing records, is also the longest-tenured member in franchise history, having played for a team-record 16 seasons and 248 games, including the postseason.

His 210 consecutive regular-season games started from Nov. 21, 2004 through Nov. 23, 2017, was, at the time, the second-longest streak by a quarterback in NFL history behind Brett Favre's 297.

“I can’t tell you what that means to a coach, to be able to prepare every week knowing your starter is going to be there,” Coughlin said. “It’s almost impossible today to be able to do that. Some teams are fortunate. Many teams it doesn’t happen to. You get a guy nicked, you get him hurt. I remember once he was hurt with a shoulder. He didn’t practice all week. We didn’t know if he’d be alright. He started and played the whole game and played well. It meant a great deal to us to be able to prepare knowing he was going to be on the field and be the starting quarterback for all of those games.”

Manning is one of 21 quarterbacks to win a Super Bowl without losing one and one of 12 to win at least two Super Bowls.

Off the field, he is a tireless humanitarian. In 2016, he and Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald, a fellow member of the 2004 draft class, were honored as the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award. He is the only Giants player to be so honored in the award’s 49-year history.

Manning's final appearance in a game for the Giants came December 15 against Miami, a game in which the Giants won 36-20. With the Giants comfortably in the lead, Manning was pulled from the game with 1:54 remaining and received a thunderous standing ovation from the crowd in what was an emotional farewell to a Giants legend, and the end of a career in which he went 117-117 in the regular season and 8-4 in the playoffs.

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Best Giant of all time and future HOF.