‘Joe & Evan’: Closure Made Eli Comfortable With Retirement

By WFAN Sports Radio 101.9 FM/66AM New York

Friday Jan. 24 marked the end of an era as Eli Manning officially retired from the New York Giants and the NFL.

After 16 seasons with Big Blue and two Super Bowl championships, Manning retires having worn just one NFL uniform during his career. Joe Benigno and Evan Roberts opened their Friday afternoon show on WFAN discussing Manning’s press conference, as the quarterback expressed the importance of ending his playing career having never left the Giants.

“The thing he did that I would love as a Giant fan is, he made it clear what was important to him was not putting another uniform on.” Roberts said.

“When Marty Brodeur put another uniform on or Joe Namath put another uniform on, it doesn’t change how we think of those guys…but in that moment you don’t want to see it,” he continued. “It’s heartbreaking, so if Eli Manning put on another uniform, it would’ve been odd, it would’ve been weird and it would’ve hurt for the short time that he did it.”

After getting benched two weeks into the 2019 NFL season, Manning returned to the field at MetLife Stadium as a starter Dec. 15, while rookie quarterback Daniel Jones nursed an ankle injury. Manning led the Giants to one last win and a standing ovation from the crowd.

Eli Manning meets his family after the Giants' 36-20 win against the Miami Dolphins on Dec. 15, 2019, at MetLife Stadium. Al Bello/Getty Images

“It’s probably not going to get better than leaving the organization that loves you, the fans that love you, with a win, with health, it ain’t going to get much better than that,” Roberts said of Manning getting the opportunity to have a farewell game in December.

Benigno noted the Dec. 15 win over the Miami Dolphins also ended the Giants nine-game losing streak and brought Eli’s career record back to .500 at 117-117.

“It does put closure on what was a very good era of New York Giants football,” Roberts added. “An era that didn’t see dominance, wasn’t in the playoffs every year, its different than the Jeter era, but it did feature two very important things, two essential things, two things I don’t even know what it tastes like. Championships. Two of them.”

Benigno and Roberts also discussed the storyline of the Giants’ 2007 season, into January and February of ’08, which made Manning’s first Super Bowl victory, maybe the greatest championship run in sports history. Traveling into Dallas to take on the division-winning Cowboys. Playing on the road in frigid Green Bay, against Hall of Fame quarterback Brett Favre. Culminating with “the average Giants team vs the perfect Patriots” and a Super Bowl ring for Big Blue.

Click the audio player above to hear the full ‘Joe & Evan’ show open