Ian O’Connor, ESPN
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Four more years, Eli Manning predicted in the summer of 2017. He said he still loved the training, the film work, everything about being a starting NFL quarterback, and he figured he could compete at a high level until age 40.
“So I don’t see it slowing down,” he told ESPN.com at the time. Yet now, at 37, it is slowing down to a grinding halt. Manning has devolved into a shadow of his two-time Super Bowl MVP self, and it was clear Thursday night to every fair-minded fan in the house that his time as the New York Giants‘ franchise player is coming to an end.
Actually, that time has already expired. In professional sports there is no such thing as a franchise player for a 1-5 franchise, or for a team that has lost 18 of 22 games over the past two seasons. As much as it hurts to say it about an athlete who has always carried himself with grace in the world’s noisiest market, Manning’s exit is no longer a question of when, but how.