Moeller: Releasing, Not Benching Manning, The Right Thing To Do

Eli Manning has played his last game for the Giants.

At least, he should have. Manning should be released.

The two-time Super Bowl MVP and future Hall of Famer didn’t deserve being benched for this Sunday’s game at Oakland and likely the rest of the season unless an injury surfaces.

Manning isn’t the reason for the Giants’ abysmal 2-9 season. Behind eight different offensive line combinations, having a coral of inexperienced receivers, and a rudderless running game, Manning still has completed 62.5 percent of his passes for 2,411 yards with 14 touchdowns and seven interceptions.

It is an above average season for him at best, but it didn’t merit this. Not for what he has brought to the franchise as well as represented it on and off the field. He can still be productive behind even a decent offense.

Manning rejected the thought of playing a half against Oakland, allowing his streak of 210 starts to end. He is the seventh all-time passing leader in yards and touchdowns with more than 50,000 and 334 career scoring tosses.

That was the right move. He wants to play and wants to win. He deserves that.  He has been the Giants’ quarterback since November of 2004. Think about that.

Manning doesn’t want to be a novelty act for the Giants at this stage in his career like Johnny Unitas was with the Chargers.

He is now the official scapegoat of the 2017 season. Head coach Ben McAdoo had taken subtle shots at him throughout the season, and Manning — being the class act he is – didn’t fire back.

Could it be that Manning is sitting because the Giants were officially eliminated from the playoffs when Carolina beat the Jets this past Sunday? Don’t make me laugh.

McAdoo and GM Jerry Reese took their last stab at saving themselves with Manning’s benching. There is a miniscule of hope that both of them are back after this season. McAdoo stated that this basically was a collective decision between the two along with owner John Mara.

If the Giants want to do the honorable thing, release Manning.

The Giants abruptly released Phil Simms, then 38, before the start of the 1994 season after they went 11-5 the previous season. Remember Dave Brown? He was anointed the new savior at the time and it didn’t take him long to flop.

Now the Giants are turning to Geno Smith and rookie Davis Webb to guide them through the final five games. This is the same Geno Smith who was released by the Jets while they were searching for a veteran quarterback during the spring.

One thought could be to lose the bulk of the final five and elevate their chances to draft the quarterback they want next April. It also allows them to see if Webb is the answer.

That’s fine. But don’t tarnish Manning’s presence in the process.

The Giants easily could have reunited him with Tom Coughlin in Jacksonville, where the Jaguars are still in the playoff hunt and quarterback Blake Bortles is ready to be run out of Florida. Those rumors have been circulating for the past month.

Thanks, Eli, for the memories. You deserve to be playing somewhere else soon.

The next time Manning will be wearing Giants’ blue will be at his induction ceremony in Canton.

About the Author

Jeff Moeller

Jeff Moeller has been covering the NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL and college football and basketball as well as high school sports on a national and local scene for the past 39 years. He has been a Jets and Giants beat reporter for the past 13 years.

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