Eli Manning walked out to his ceremony at halftime of Giants-Falcons on this sun-splashed Sunday at MetLife Stadium, led on the field by his old offensive linemen for the Super Bowl days. The cheers filled the Meadowlands one more time in honor of the quarterback from the Giants’ last two title teams.
This was Manning’s day. It was a day to say thanks for the Big Blue memories over a franchise-record 16 seasons through 2019, a day to send him into the Giants’ Ring of Honor and really give him one of the ultimate honors. Jersey No. 10 is retired, for now and forever.
"Wellington Mara said, ‘Once a Giant, always a Giant,' " Manning told the crowd. "I’m glad I’m only a Giant."
Family members and several ex-teammates were on hand. Tom Coughlin and Michael Strahan spoke via recorded video messages. Shaun O’Hara spoke in person, standing at the mic, addressing the two-time Super Bowl MVP.
"There’s a great quote that I think is very fitting for you right now," the former center said. " 'No man was ever honored for what he received. Honor was a reward for what he gave.' "
What did Manning give the Giants?
Besides helping secure the Super Bowl XLII and XLVI trophies that sat glistening in the sun, Manning provided production and durability.
He never missed a game because of injury. He started 210 straight from 2004 to 2017, the most by a Giant since the 1970 merger and the third-longest streak in NFL history for a quarterback. He owns the Giants record for games played with 236.
Manning holds so many franchise records, including for all the major career passing categories — completions (4,895), attempts (8,119), yards (57,023) and touchdowns (366).
"Eli, for 16 seasons, you set the standard for what a Giants player should be, both on and off the field," co-owner John Mara said. "As a two-time Super Bowl champ and NFL Man of the Year and future Hall of Famer, you represented this team with pride, with dignity and with class.
"We now welcome you into our Ring of Honor and tell you that no Giant will ever wear No. 10 again."
Next, Manning’s name and number were unveiled just below the upper bowl seats, his Ring of Honor honor.
With father Archie, mother Olivia, and wife Abby looking on and his four children also in the house, Manning stepped up to deliver his speech — short but on target.
"Being a part of the New York Giants organization has been one of the great joys of my life," Manning said. "I’m indebted to so many wonderful coaches and great teammates, and I’m lucky that I still get to call so many of them mentors and friends now.
"This day would not be possible without the love and support of my family. It was easy for everyone to celebrate the wins, but you were the ones that were with me all the time, had my back and picked me up when I was down.
"And last but not least, a big thank you to the great New York Giants fans. I’m going to miss running out of that tunnel and hearing your cheers. Thank you for this incredible journey."
Then Manning, in his suit, recreated two great moments in Super Bowl history with two of his old teammates. He threw a pass downfield to David Tyree — the one the receiver caught against his helmet. That was followed by a throw to Mario Manningham along the left sideline.
A nice closing touch in more ways than one. No. 10 was done.