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Giants’ Eli Manning retires after 16 seasons

By Tom Canavan

AP Sports Writer

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — Eli Manning is ending a 16-year NFL career that saw him recognized as a great quarterback, a leader, a solid citizen and the man who led the New York Giants back into prominence with two Super Bowl titles.

Manning, who set almost every Giants passing record in career solely based in New Jersey’s Meadowlands, has retired, the Giants said Wednesday. He will formally announce his retirement on Friday and there is little doubt the team will retire his No. 10 jersey.

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

“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.”

The recently turned 39-year-old’s future had been in doubt since the end of the season. Manning’s contract with the Giants expired after the 4-12 season and there was little chance he would be returning after losing his long-time starting job to rookie Daniel Jones.

Manning said he wanted to think about his future after the season and roughly three weeks after the season ended he decided his career was over.

He leaves the NFL with as many Super Bowl titles as his brother, Peyton, who retired after leading the Denver Broncos to a title after the 2015 season.

The Giants acquired Manning from San Diego on draft day in 2004 after the Ole Miss quarterback told the Chargers he did not want to play for them and forced the deal that general manager Ernie Accorsi gladly accepted.

It started a major turnaround for a team that was 4-12 the previous season.

Manning replaced Hall of Famer Kurt Warner as the starter for then-new coach Tom Coughlin after nine games. They won the NFC East the following season.

Within three seasons, the Giants won their first NFL championship since the 1990 season and Manning got his first Super Bowl MVP award, knocking off the previously unbeaten New England Patriots. The second came after the 2011 season when Manning and company again beat Tom Brady, Bill Belichick and the Pats.

In both games, Manning hit a clutch late pass on game-winning drives. He and David Tyree hooked up on the helmet catch in the first one and he found Mario Manningham on sideline go pattern in the second, igniting an 88-yard drive.

“Eli Manning not only is the quarterback on those great teams, but he is the MVP of the Super Bowls,” Coughlin said. “He’s an incredible big- game performer. 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.”

Manning is the only player in Giants’ history to play 16 seasons. His 236 regular-season games (234 starts) and 248 total games are team records.

From Nov. 21, 2004, through Nov. 23, 2017, Manning started 210 consecutive regular-season games, then the second-longest streak by a quarterback in NFL history (to Brett Favre’s 297). After sitting out one game, he started the next 22 in a row, giving him 232 starts in 233 games — plus 12 postseason games. Manning never missed a game because of injury.

Manning is sixth in NFL history with 8,119 attempts and seventh with 4,895 completions, 57,023 yards and 366 touchdown passes. He also has the franchise’s highest career completion rate (60.29 percent). He was selected to four Pro Bowls.

There are many who think he is the Giants’ greatest quarterback, although others will debate that honor belongs to either Y.A. Tittle or Charlie Conerly.

Manning started the first two games of the recently concluded season before recently fired coach Pat Shurmur replaced him with Jones, the No. 6 pick overall in the draft. He started two more games in December after Jones sprained an ankle and led the Giants to a win over Miami in his final start at MetLife Stadium.

Off the field, Manning has donated his time to many charitable events. He was the co-recipient of the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award in 2016 with Larry Fitzgerald of the Arizona Cardinals.

During the Super Bowl week, Manning will be presented with the 2020 Athletes in Action/Bart Starr Award for serving as a positive role model to his family, teammates and community.

Manning is one of just five players in NFL history to win multiple Super Bowl MVP awards, joined by Brady, Joe Montana, Terry Bradshaw and Starr. 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.

In the 2004 draft, the Giants picked fourth and selected quarterback Philip Rivers. Accorsi sent Rivers, their third-round choice in 2004 (No. 65 overall), and first and fifth-round picks in the 2005 draft to the Chargers for Manning.

It was the game-changing deal for the Giants.

___

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