The New York Giants may appear to have given up on the season by benching Eli Manning, but that doesn’t mean they’re tanking by going with Geno Smith at quarterback.

The team’s co-owner was most emphatic that his two-win team is not waving the white flag on the season so that it can, say, get a better draft pick somewhere down the line.

“That’s not the case,” John Mara told reporters Wednesday. “Again, we’re 2-9. We’re still going to try to win the games. I read something somewhere about, ‘Are we going to tank the rest of the season?’ That’s complete bull—-. I would never allow that here. We’re going to try to win the games. We’re just going to have to try to do it with a different guy at quarterback.”

The Giants went about doing it with “a different guy at quarterback” in the worst way possible. Coach Ben McAdoo made the move to Smith, whom New York area fans remember well from his Jets days, on Tuesday, flabbergasting New Yorkers who were accustomed to the way in which the city’s sports legends, like Derek Jeter, are handled as their careers wane. Manning was left to stand before his locker, explaining that he was given the option of starting to preserve his consecutive-starts streak and then being benched for Smith. Manning declined, so the two-time Super Bowl winner will be replaced by a quarterback with 28 touchdown passes and 36 interceptions in 34 games and possibly by rookie Davis Webb.

Mara was left to explain how the Giants, one of the NFL’s sterling franchises, could have botched this so badly and placed part of the blame on Manning.

“Tuesday morning, [General Manager] Jerry [Reese] called me and said Eli had informed Ben that if you’re going to play Geno in the second half, you may as well just start him,” Mara said (via NJ.com). “It’s not fair to him, it’s not fair to me, I think that would be the best decision going forward. He also wanted us to put out a statement announcing it. So that’s what we did.”

Mara admitted that “there probably is” a better way to have handled it, but added, “tell me what it is. … I didn’t want him to go out like this, but I understand his feeling and I respect his decision. He doesn’t want the streak to be tarnished by just getting in for a few series.”

Mara reiterated that Manning isn’t necessarily finished with the Giants, he did point out that the team would have a high draft pick next spring and Manning’s father admitted that the move had left his son heartbroken. Maybe, as with his big brother Peyton, he will not be able to spend his entire career with the same team.

“I don’t think Eli ever envisioned, until now, playing for somebody else,” Archie Manning said. “That’s the love he has for the Giants. It is kind of unique and stronger than most. It’s not just the game he loves to play. He loves to play for the Giants.”

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