When the end comes for Eli Manning – as it does for all players in all sports – he’d prefer it arrive without much fanfare or build-up.
The Giants’ 38-year-old quarterback who is entering the last year of his contract with the team dismissed any idea of a farewell tour of the kind that some very successful players in other sports have coordinated and enjoyed in recent years. In New York alone, we’ve had Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, and now C.C. Sabathia all announce at the start of a season that they will retire at the end of that season. Dwayne Wade and Dirk Nowitzki both had similar celebrations as they closed out their careers in basketball this month.
“I think I will go the traditional route,” Manning said on Monday with a bit of bewilderment at the idea of orchestrating such a celebration. “I thought that was a baseball thing. I know some basketball players have done it, but I don’t see going out that way.”
Football players rarely do. Tiki Barber may have been the last to announce his retirement from the Giants in mid-season back in 2006, and it wound up creating more of a distraction than a festivity. Even when just about everyone in the world knew Peyton Manning would retire after his final season with the Broncos, he did not announce it until several weeks after they’d won a Super Bowl. So too did Michael Strahan and Rob Gronkowski.
Figure on Eli Manning going out the same way he has played most of his career, with quiet dignity and professionalism. No special days in his honor, no final wave to the crowd at Lincoln Financial Field, no last autograph on the walls of AT&T Stadium.
He’ll just play until he no longer does. And that will be that.