In November of 1971, after missing more than a full calendar year with knee and wrist injuries, Joe Namath was summoned off the bench during a game for the New York Jets.
It turned out to be one of the more memorable moments of Namath’s career. He got hot against the San Francisco 49ers, throwing three touchdowns to get the Jets back in the game. He threw a late interception and the Jets lost, but the memory of the New York crowd going crazy as it experienced the return of a legend lives on. It was a moment.
Eli Manning’s return on Monday night as the New York Giants’ starter is far from a spot-on match to Namath’s return in 1971, and we don’t know how Manning will play in place of injured Daniel Jones against the Philadelphia Eagles in a game that can be live-streamed on the Yahoo Sports app.
But wouldn’t it be pretty cool for Manning to have one more big moment with the Giants?
Eli Manning hasn’t played since Week 2
The way this season has gone for Manning to this point was practically inevitable. The Giants drafted Daniel Jones with the sixth overall pick. New York is a bad team and it was only a matter of time before Manning was replaced as starter. Jones’ great preseason sped up the timetable. Manning was replaced after two starts and hasn’t played since.
Jones has a high ankle sprain, and it’s possible he’ll miss multiple games. The only race the Giants are in is for draft position, and there’s no need to rush Jones back. Manning could end up getting a few starts down the stretch. It’s a fun story. Manning has done a great job representing the Giants, and the NFL as a whole, and deserves a great final act.
Manning might not be capable of another great game. He struggled in his two starts and has been on the decline for a couple years. That’s entirely normal, as he approaches his 39th birthday. The Giants still aren’t very good, but they do have a soft schedule down the stretch. It’s not like the Eagles look like they want to salvage their season.
It seemed like Manning might just fade away after being benched, but now he gets what is almost certainly the final curtain call with his only NFL team.
Manning could start more than one game
There has been very little talk about Manning’s future. He’ll be a free agent after the season and there’s no definitive word on whether he wants to play elsewhere or retire.
Whatever happens, Manning’s legacy in New York will live forever thanks to two Super Bowl victories. That’s why he’s one of the more popular figures in team history. That’s why the awkward one-game benching two seasons ago turned into a major controversy that sealed Ben McAdoo’s firing. The Giants have handled everything with the utmost sensitivity ever since, going out of their way to make sure Manning isn’t disrespected even as the team moves onto the next phase.
As it turns out, Manning gets at least one more start for the Giants, and maybe more. More than a few legendary moments have happened on “Monday Night Football.”
Maybe we’re in for another one, this time with Manning before he exits New York.
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