Eli Manning takeaways ahead of Giant legend's number retirement, including his 'special bond' with Super Bowl XLII team

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Eli Manning with Lombardi Trophy Super Bowl XLII
Eli Manning with Lombardi Trophy Super Bowl XLII

The Giants will retire Eli Manning's No. 10 on Sunday during a halftime celebration during Sunday's game against the Atlanta Falcons.

The two-time Super Bowl MVP reflected on his playing days, his relationship with Tom Coughlin, and the glory days of retirement.

Here are the takeaways from Manning's media availability...

On the Super Bowl XLII championship team

In just his fourth year in the NFL, Giants fans were ready to call it quits on Manning -- he had just one playoff game which resulted in a 23-0 loss - as the team started that season down 0-2.

Of course, a Cinderella run came, and it was capped off by defeating the then-18-0 New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLII.

“That whole playoff stretch was probably very, very important in my career, '07, and Coach Coughlin’s. We were both on that line of ‘Hey, do these guys have what it takes or not,' and that stretch of those playoff games and going into Green Bay, and of course going against what could be known as the greatest team of all time in that ’07 Patriots team and the Super Bowl and be able to beat them. There have been kind of glimpses of good and some bad, all that, some ups and downs, and I think that kind of just proved that 'He can play well in the biggest moments.' And that’s something we were able to do quite a few times. It was obviously an unbelievable feeling and it’s something you just share with your teammates. You see your teammates from that ’07 team, and it was just a very special bond. A lot of us came in together - [Shaun] O’Hara and Chris Snee, Dave Diehl had been [there] one year before, Kareem McKenzie had just joined, and so you kind of had a lot of guys that were young coming in together, Brandon Jacobs, and to kind of stay together and go win a championship was very special. You just have a special connection and bond with those players and those coaches from that season."

On what it's like to have only one of his eight playoff wins on home turf

Manning's lone home playoff win (he played in three in East Rutherford) came at the start of their Super Bowl XLVI run on Jan. 8, 2012 against the Falcons. They won, 24-2, and then took down the Packers at Lambeau Field, the San Francisco 49ers at Candlestick Park, and the Patriots again in Indianapolis.

“I don’t know why we always seemed to try to make it more difficult on ourselves than it had to be, but that was kind of our style. We liked two-minute drives at the end of the games to win. I guess we just enjoyed kind of creating the drama of football, and that’s what the fans wanted. I think we were just trying to please the fans and keep the games interesting. But I think it is strange to have one playoff game, but I remember that one very well, that one win at home versus Atlanta. It’s engrained in the mind and just the feeling of the crowd and of the fans and everyone there. Obviously we’d like to have more wins at home during playoffs, but the ones on the road were still pretty special with our teammates and those fans that traveled there for it.”

Tom Brady/Eli Manning
Tom Brady/Eli Manning

On Tom Coughlin and his wife Judy

Coughlin coached Manning for his first 12 seasons, creating a long-lasting bond. With Coughlin's wife currently suffering from an incurable brain disorder, her health is beginning to deteriorate and Manning touched on what his former coach is going through.

“Can’t say enough great things about Coach Coughlin, and I owe so much of my success to him and his, just the way he pushed me and he taught me the importance of preparation and hard work and team above self. It’s all the lessons that I learned and I feel that’s one of the great honors and privileges that I had was being able to play under him for 12 seasons.

"We still talk, we still communicate, I still look at him as a mentor and keep him in my life. I’ve talked with him with Judy about everything going on in his life, and I’ve known about it for a long time, and I know seeing the struggles that he’s going through dealing with that. He’s all of a sudden kind of has a different role going on right now with him, but I think has always has been open about it and has talked about it and he’s dealing with it and making the best of it.”

On how he got No. 10

Manning picked the number at Ole Miss (he was initially offered 18, which was retired in honor of his dad - he declined). Most Giants fans will remember former punter Jeff Feagles as No. 18, but he wore No. 10 before Manning went to New York. So the quarterback had some bribing to do.

"We worked out a deal real quick to a trip to Florida. If it was gonna be easy and simple, not a big story, then I said I'd do it. If it was gonna be something outrageous, I probably would have moved on and found another number."

On how it feels to have his number retired

Manning will become the 13th player to have his number retired by the organization (No. 14 is retired in honor of both Ward Cuff and Y.A. Tittle), and the 43rd person to join the Ring of Honor.

"It's just such a tremendous honor, and I'm just honored and kind of speechless about it thinking about that scenario and the fact that that's happening. It was never the thought. When I started my first game 17 years ago versus the Falcons, it was not the thought that 'hey, my jersey's definitely getting retired with the New York Giants. I got this thing figured out.' It's just surreal, and to go there and travel, go to the game that Week 1 and see Giants No. 10 jerseys as I was driving in - I always see other friends' and teammates' jerseys still around, I take a picture and send it to them. ... It's gonna be special. It's gonna be a very emotional day. Kind of one last farewell to all those fans wearing No. 10, and all them that supported me during my time with the Giants, continue to support me, and so i always appreciate their loyalty and their support through all these years."

On what he’s been up to since retiring

Fans have watched the Manning brothers on Monday Night Football, something that Eli admitted he never thought he wanted to do. But when he’s not in the booth (his basement).

He’s enjoying the family life.

“I’ve enjoyed, a lot of it’s just being around my kids sporting events. I never really got to do – missed a lot of those on the weekends over the years, and wasn’t able to coach or do those things. I think just being able a part of that with them and just enjoyed being around their friends. I don’t know a lot of their friends, and I get to be around them and have some fun with them.”