“I plan on playing next season,” he said Sunday after the Giants fell to 2-10 with a 24-17 loss behind Geno Smith in Oakland. He was so assertive that he said it twice, in fact. Where he might play is another matter, with the Giants taking a cold-eyed look at everyone, even two-time Super Bowl champions who deserve to go out on their own terms. Manning, who turns 37 in January, says he isn’t thinking about that.
“There is no point. I can’t control what is going to happen,” he said. “Just finish out this season in whatever capacity they need me to do and go from there.”
On Sunday, that meant watching Smith pass for 212 yards and a touchdown and analyzing the game next to rookie Davis Webb. If Manning is angry at the way in which the team ended his streak of 210 consecutive starts, he’s keeping it to himself, saying that he is “not mad at anybody.”
It’s now a moot point, with the Giants dumping McAdoo and Reese. As if McAdoo’s record weren’t reason enough, his handling of Manning helped speed his departure. He gave Manning the option of starting for the sake of the streak and then being yanked for Smith. Manning chose to sit and was left to emotionally discuss the move with reporters in from of his locker. It was an ugly, ham-handed way to handle the situation.
As for Manning, he has a large degree of control because of a no-trade clause in his contract and can wait out the Giants, who will owe him a $5 million bonus on March 18. And the Giants could take steps to fix this PR nightmare by keeping him and drafting his heir apparent from what should be a solid array of quarterbacks in the 2018 draft. So, out of all of this, Manning is the only one of three remaining with the Giants. And reports indicate that — surprise — he’ll be the starter again Sunday under interim coach Steve Spagnuolo when the Giants host the Cowboys.
As the season winds down, Manning intends to be “a good teammate” who is “ready to play” if called upon. If he was pushing for a change in the team’s leadership, he wasn’t saying so.
“I don’t want anybody to get fired,” Manning said. “When a coach gets fired, it’s usually because the team, the players and myself haven’t performed up to our duties. I don’t want to see that.”
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