For most of his adult life, all Eli Manning knew was the daily grind that went along with playing football every weekend.
But with such a grind came sacrifices, namely trying to work his life around his training and playing schedule.
And the pain--with each passing year, the struggle to get out of bed and get the body ready to do it all over again became even more challenging than the toughest defense.
But for Manning, whose jersey will be retired and who will be inducted in the team's Ring of Honor, he accepted it when his time came to go.
"I knew I was ready to retire. That’s kind of the only thing I knew was I was done, and I wasn’t going to second guess," he said Thursday during a video conference call.
"I wasn’t going to look back and worry about it. I knew that I was ready to be done playing football and when I look back on my time, I was just going to reflect on the good moments and the happy moments and the friendships I made, the wins we got to celebrate and remember those things."
While Manning had many fond memories, the latter years of his career played a prominent role in his deciding to call it quits.
"I enjoyed the preparation. I could’ve gotten back into that part, but just the losing, the everything, just the grind of it all. I think I don’t know if I could have totally got back into all of that," he said.
"More just the losses hurt more. They affect your sleep. They affect your week. It affects family life with my wife and kids and it just got too much. I like watching the games and I root for the Giants and I feel for them after a loss. But you know what? I go to bed very easily on Sunday nights and wake up and feel good about the upcoming week, and it’s not something that lingers for three or four days like it used to."
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While Manning still enjoys being involved with the game through his work with the Giants and as a broadcaster with his brother Peyton, he also enjoys spending time with his kids and their activities.
"Football takes up a lot of your time during the season, during the offseason and at night. So I wanted to take the year off and just be around my family and see if there was anything else I wanted to pursue or wanted to be interested in and just kind of step away," he said.
What Manning found during his time away was that while he still loved the game, there has been no urge to attempt a comeback.
"You’ve seen a few guys take the year off and come back and Gronk (Buccaneers Tight End Rob Gronkowski) is doing it and Jason Witten did it, but there was no interest in coming back," he said.
"I saw the hits the quarterbacks were taking, and I said, 'I do not want to experience that anymore.' I like how I feel every Monday morning when I wake up."
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