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Eli Manning feels his best football is still ahead of him

Eli Manning of the New York Giants

Eli Manning of the New York Giants runs off the field after a loss against the Carolina Panthers at MetLife Stadium on Sunday, Dec. 20, 2015 in East Rutherford, N.J. Credit: Jim McIsaac

SAN FRANCISCO — So much focus at Super Bowl week has been about whether Peyton Manning will retire after the game. But what about the other Manning?

Giants quarterback Eli Manning said he wants to play five more seasons.

Of course, that’s what he’s been saying for almost five years.

“I feel great,” the quarterback said at an event for FedEx Cares on Wednesday. “I’m very healthy, have been very fortunate there. I feel like I have my best football ahead of me and can play at an extremely high level.”

Eli Manning will be honored a number of times this week. He is a finalist for the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award, which will be announced on Saturday, and will be on the field when the NFL honors all of its living Super Bowl MVPs during a pregame ceremony on Sunday.

He’ll also be watching his brother Peyton play for the Broncos.

Eli Manning said he hadn’t realized until it was mentioned this week that Peyton is making his fourth Super Bowl appearance with a fourth different head coach.

“It says a lot that he’s been able to perform at an extremely high level whoever he’s playing for, whatever offense, whatever team,” Eli Manning said. “He’s worked extremely hard changing to a different franchise towards the end of his career, now in his second Super Bowl with them obviously with a brand new head coach, a brand new offense, dealing with some injuries. He’s done a tremendous job of knowing all the circumstances and situations, doing your job, and doing what it takes to get there.”

If Eli Manning ever returns to play in another Super Bowl, it will be with a different head coach than his previous trips, too. The Giants parted ways with Tom Coughlin this offseason and Eli expressed his desire to retain the same system the team has run for the past two seasons. They did him one better and hired offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo to replace Coughlin.

“You can never have total control of that,” Manning said of coaching changes in general and the first of his career in the past month. “The best way is to keep winning a lot of games and making playoffs and hopefully you can somewhat control it. It is tough to make a change from new offensive coordinators or a new system. I think there will obviously be changes with Coach McAdoo taking over from Coach Coughlin, but having the offense stay similar will be helpful.”

Manning said last week he thinks the Giants are “close” to returning to championship — caliber form.

“We have to find ways to win those tight games, win those close ones,” he said of what needs to improve to get there. “That’s just a team, getting guys with great leadership and great enthusiasm and knowing what it takes to win those close ones and having the confidence to go out there and make it happen.”

For another five years, right?

“I still feel like I have five more years in me,” he said, “so I’ll just keep saying that until I don’t have anymore.”


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