As news broke that New York Giants star Eli Manning’s 15-year run as starting quarterback would be coming to an end, longtime fans declared their love for the player — but admitted it simply was time for him to hand over the reins.
Coach Pat Shurmer announced Tuesday morning that Manning would be benched and that rookie Daniel Jones would take his place as starting quarterback, beginning with this Sunday’s game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
One lifelong fan said that, when he first heard the news, he thought the Giants were making a mistake by replacing the seasoned Manning with Jones, who was drafted in April, but he’s come around to thinking it’s time for a change and is optimistic about Jones’ entrance.
“My thinking earlier today was, ‘Oh no, it’s way too early,’ ” said Kevin Bucaccio, 31. “But this season is honestly already a wash, and it’s just about breaking Daniel Jones in, and so I think this is as effective a way for him to learn as later on in the season.”
Also, Manning is aging, noted Bucaccio, and is unable to make the plays he once did.
“It’s not that Eli’s not reading coverages and seeing blitzes and making the right throws; it’s that I don’t think he can make those plays anymore physically,” he said. “I don’t think the arm strength is there to really launch the ball down the field.”
Another massive Manning fan said as much, adding that he was optimistic about Sunday’s game and the future of the team.
“I don’t know many bigger Eli Manning fans than I am,” said Gerard Brown, 32. “He is my all-time favorite New York Giant. But it was definitely time and I feel like it’s been time.”
Brown is not expecting Jones to replicate Manning at his prime, but he still feels hopeful.
“You have to tailor your expectations,” he said.
Another lifelong fan said it was a “good business move” on the Giants’ part — other young players on the team are several years into their contracts, he said, and it’s smart to start Jones so he can develop chemistry with his teammates.
“I think that it’s long overdue, and this is no slight to Eli Manning, I just think it’s a great business move,” said Jason Buchanan, 32.
But Buchanan also wanted to thank Manning for all his years with the Giants. It’s a bittersweet transition, he said, but it’s for the best.
“Thank you, Eli Manning,” he said. “I love him to death. I’ve been watching him since I was young. It’s time for him to retire and go out on a good note.”