Eli Manning popped in to the Giants’ facility last month to say hello to some old friends. The last time he was there was to retire in January 2019. This time, the exact opposite happened. He came away with a job.
Manning and co-owner John Mara agreed that the former quarterback will have a role in the organization. "Nothing specific," he told Newsday on Tuesday, but it will probably be some kind of ambassador or liaison between on- and off-field pursuits.
Manning said he had no intentions of having such a conversation with Mara when he arrived at 1925 Giants Drive.
"I didn’t even know if Mr. Mara would be in there," he said. "I just went to see some of the trainers and equipment staff and the people I had seen every day almost for the past 16 years and then hadn’t seen them in a year. But I did go up and chat with him and I said I’d love to be a part of the organization in some way.
"I don’t know what that role is, but hopefully there is something where I can be of help and be a part of it."
That’s what he said he missed most during his first year as a former football player. Not only was he no longer a member of the team, because of the pandemic he was like just about everyone else in the world, banned from the premises.
"It was such a weird year not being able to go to games and for me not being able to go around the facility at all," he said. "It was good for me to have a year off."
He spent it reconnecting with family. He’s coaching three girls basketball teams these days for his daughters and said he is amazed that after a lifetime as an offensive player he has become defensive-minded in this pursuit. He watches football on television and will be tuning in for the Super Bowl on Sunday. He continued his charity work.
Oh, and he joined Twitter!
He likes it, but is glad he did not join sooner.
"It was the right time to join, in retirement," he said. "I think if I were still playing it would have been pretty kind of business-like, kind of right down the line. Retirement, not having a serious stressful job like playing quarterback, I think I can show a lighter side."
He’s even using hashtags to his — and others’ — advantage. He will pour 100 gallons of Frank’s RedHot sauce on TikTok star David Dobrik if they can get 100,000 tweets using the hashtag #FranksBigPour before Super Bowl LV. Besides the vat of sauce for the dunking, Frank’s RedHot is donating $100K to Manning’s local charity, Tackle Kids Cancer.
"It’s been a great discussion with Frank’s RedHot, we have a new commercial coming out showing how I am handling retirement and picking up some new activities and using Frank’s to get me through them," Manning said. "We wanted to try to do something unique and different and out of left field, so pouring 100 gallons of Frank’s RedHot on somebody was the idea… I don’t know what that’s going to look like or how they’re going to create that, but I know that’s a lot of Frank’s. [Dobrik] is a young kid, so he can handle it. He’ll figure it out."
As far as this Super Bowl goes, Manning is amazed to see his old championship nemesis still participating in the big game.
"With [Tom] Brady and what he’s been able to do this year and changing organizations, changing teams, where you’ve been somewhere for 20 years with the same coach, and all of a sudden you go to a new coach and a new city during a pandemic and still get the same results that he’s had his whole career getting back to the Super Bowl, that is so impressive," he said.
He’s a fan of Patrick Mahomes, too.
"Both quarterbacks, Brady, Mahomes, they have that ‘it’ factor," Manning said. "They can make the plays in critical moments. When your team needs it, they always step up. I think it’s going to be one of those games where, especially late in the game, they’re going to be back and forth and scoring points and making plays. It might come down to who has the ball last… But both quarterbacks have the ability to score when they need to."
Just as he did in the fourth quarter of his two comeback Super Bowl victories that earned him a place in NFL history, an unrivaled perch in the Giants organization, and, as of last month apparently, a job to keep him busy in retirement.