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SportsColumnistsBob Glauber

Eli Manning's no-trade clause says a lot about his love for the Giants

Eli Manning of the New York Giants celebrates

Eli Manning of the New York Giants celebrates after throwing an 80-yard touchdown pass during the third quarter against the St. Louis Rams at the Edward Jones Dome on Dec. 21, 2014 in St. Louis, Mo. Credit: Getty Images / Dilip Vishwanat

There have been only two documented cases in which Eli Manning has pulled a power play, with the same purpose behind both: To play his entire career with the Giants.

The first came within minutes of his selection as the first pick of the 2004 draft. The second -- the last, he hopes -- occurred during his just-concluded contract negotiations.

And if you are a Giants fan, you need to appreciate both moves, because they have been at the heart of the team's success during what could end up being a Hall of Fame career for the quarterback.

That Manning would agree on an extension of his deal, which was due to expire after the 2015 season, was not in doubt. There was no way the Giants would risk losing their most important player over a contract dispute, so this was just a matter of getting the numbers in line with recent deals by 2004 draft classmates Philip Rivers of the Chargers and Ben Roethlisberger of the Steelers.

But the most revealing aspect of Manning's four-year, $84-million deal was not the overall value or the $65 million in guaranteed money. It was the no-trade clause the Giants agreed to, apparently after expressing some reluctance about such a commitment.

It was not quite as stunning a move as Manning's refusal to sign with the Chargers, who drafted him at No. 1, because of his professed desire to play for the Giants and coach Tom Coughlin. But it was just as important, because Manning's loyalty lies so deeply within him that he wanted the assurance that he will play for no other team.

"I'm obviously excited knowing I'll be a Giant for a long time," he said after signing the extension. "This is where I got started and where I want to finish. I still have the same mentality. My goal is to earn this contract and do my best and keep trying to win championships for the Giants."

Part of Manning's reluctance to sign a contract without a no-trade clause surely has to do with what happened to his brother Peyton, who was given the heave-ho in Indianapolis after missing a season because of neck problems. Eli knew he didn't want to start over the way Peyton had to in Denver.

But Eli's demand for a no-trade clause had more to do with his allegiance to the Giants, his deep roots in the New York area and his desire to get as much as he can out of his remaining years.

The move also hedges against the uncertainty of what lies ahead for the Giants' coaching staff, which also is a critical factor in this equation. Coughlin, the only coach Manning has played for in the NFL, is not assured of returning next season. If Coughlin doesn't make the playoffs for a fourth straight year and is gone after 2015, Manning thus guarantees that whomever the Giants hire next will be required to stick with the quarterback for at least the next three years.

Peyton couldn't survive in Indianapolis because of his neck problem and a change in general managers from Bill Polian to Ryan Grigson, who brought in Chuck Pagano as his coach and, more importantly, Andrew Luck as his quarterback. But Eli has ensured that he won't suffer a similar fate if the Giants make major changes.

If this team owes Manning anything, it's loyalty. Manning has been by far the most important player for the Giants since his arrival more than 11 years ago. He has won two championships and owns almost every significant passing record in Giants history. He has started 167 consecutive regular-season games, the third-longest streak by a quarterback in NFL history and the longest active streak.

He has survived a host of roster changes. He has never, ever sold out a teammate by casting blame for a mistake, even if Manning took the blame when it was clear someone else was at fault. He has never second-guessed a coaching decision. And he has thrived in a media market in which others have wilted because of the ferocity of the attention and scrutiny.

Yes, there have been a few too many interceptions over the years. But what quarterback hasn't had losses they'd like to have back? Answer: None.

Manning has been the central character in two riveting championship runs after the 2007 and 2011 seasons, in which he finished off both Super Bowl pursuits by beating Tom Brady and Bill Belichick -- the only time those two men have ever lost in the championship round.

Manning has earned the right to demand a no-trade clause, and his value to the franchise has given him that privilege. The Giants were wise to agree to it, because Manning has been and still will be the most indispensable player on this team.

There's no reason to believe that won't be the case for the life of the four-year contract. Eli wins another power play. The Giants win again, too.

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