Eli Manning shut it down. He figured his season was over and there was no need to keep his throwing arm in game shape, so he’s gone the last few weeks without even lobbing a pass.
Now he’s got to get warmed up in a hurry. Manning, a second alternate, will be traveling to Hawaii next week to play in the Jan. 27 Pro Bowl. He’s replacing Aaron Rodgers, who pulled out with injuries.
“I should start tossing it around a little this week,” Manning said, “to make sure the arm’s still loosened up a little bit.”
This will be Manning’s second appearance in a Pro Bowl, and his third invitation. Last year he was in the Super Bowl and couldn’t make it. Although he’d likely rather that be the case again this year, he’s excited about going.
“You just look forward to being around some other players and getting to know them a little bit,” he said. “Having a week of practice to toss it around will be fun. I think it can always be a long offseason away from football for a few months, and I enjoy playing football, and learning and practicing and all those things, so I’m looking forward to another week of it.”
And of course there will be some familiar faces. Three of Manning’s Giants teammates will be joining him, including his favorite target from this season, Victor Cruz.
“I think that will be good to have,” Manning said. “You know his timing; you know his body language, those types of things. That will definitely be an advantage, hopefully when I’m in the game he’ll be in there as well. Hopefully, we can hook up a few times and get some completions.”
Jason Pierre-Paul and Chris Snee will also be going. So is Peyton Manning, and the trip will give the brothers – and their families -- a chance to reconnect after a long season.
“It’s fun, just because I haven’t seen him since June or July,” Manning said. “That was the last time I saw him. I haven’t seen him much so it will be good to have a week with him and get to hang out and I’ll have my daughter there and he’ll have his kids. We’ll have them be around each other. It will be fun just to be with him in the afternoons after practice and get to hang out.”
Eli said he has not yet spoken to Peyton since the Broncos’ season ended in a double-overtime playoff loss this weekend.
“I really haven’t talked to him, but anytime obviously, a season ends, you’re disappointed,” Manning said. “Whether you’re in the playoffs or not, the season’s over and it’s always tough especially as you get older. That was possibly another chance to win a championship and obviously couldn’t get it done, but you keep working hard to give yourself another chance so if it comes up you’re ready for it.”
And now the Mannings have to get ready for another chance in the Pro Bowl. All of the Mannings.
“I just got a couple text messages yesterday that Rodgers wasn’t going to play and I was next on the list,” Manning said. “I think my wife (Abby) was probably the most excited. She was all over it. I didn’t have much phone access and she was trying to text and call so that she could start planning and coordinating and I was kind of unavailable. When I finally got to a place where my cell phone had service, I had 10 text messages and missed calls from her trying to get coordinated. It was a good surprise. It’s a fun time … It’s definitely something I’m looking forward to.”