Joe Tessitore knew there would be added interest in Monday night’s Giants-Eagles game when he heard the news that Eli Manning likely would start at quarterback for the Giants.
But the impact really hit home when he called his mother, Anna, on Wednesday to check in on her.
“She goes, ‘This is going to be great!’ ” I said, ‘What’s going on?’ She said, ‘Oh, I’m so excited.’ ”
Turned out the longtime Giants fan had heard about Daniel Jones’ ankle injury and Manning’s likely return.
“When your 70-something-year-old mother is excited because Eli’s playing on Monday . . . “ the ESPN play-by-play man said, shaking his head.
She is not alone. Manning’s return after serving as Jones’ backup for 10 games is certain to boost interest not only locally but nationally for the “Monday Night Football” contest between the 2-10 Giants and 5-7 Eagles.
“Wouldn’t it be amazing to have another chapter written in that rivalry with the final days of Eli?” Tessitore said at a screening in Manhattan of DAZN’s documentary on the first Anthony Joshua-Andy Ruiz heavyweight championship bout in advance of Saturday’s rematch. “We’re excited.”
Even in their diminished states, the Giants and Eagles would have been a better-than-average ratings draw for ESPN. But Manning will add a significant curiosity factor.
“Here we are in the very, very late autumn, early winter of a career,” Tessitore said, then was interrupted by someone suggesting it was later than that. “Late winter of a career. I’m trying to be kind here. We’ve got a football game to play on Monday night we want people to watch . . . But it gives this game a little extra something, doesn’t it?
“There’s such a curiosity factor around it now, and also because the division has been south this year, the Eagles aren’t out of it. The Eagles control their own destiny, and wouldn’t it be crazy that it could be Eli coming off the bench that puts the nail in it for Philly this year?”
Tessitore said even the Sunday production meeting visit with Manning will feel different than in the past. “There was always something hanging over the situation with him,” he said. “This is all new.”
Tessitore said Giants coach Pat Shurmur gushed in a production meeting last month about how Manning had handled his demotion.
“He said, ‘I’m telling you, from the day I brought him into the office and I said, ‘Hey, we’re making this change,’ he of course expressed disappointment, but from that moment forward he has been supportive, professional, doing his job every day,’ ” Tessitore recalled Shurmur saying.
“Sometimes good things happen when you act the right way, right? So it’s good he gets another chance.”