It may seem hard to believe, but Eli Manning is entering his 14th season as starting quarterback for the New York Giants. The 36-year-old is coming off his third consecutive 4,000-yard season and hopes to lead the G-Men to the playoffs for the second straight year.
“When you talk about Eli Manning, you talk about one of the best to ever put on a Giants jersey,” Giants offensive lineman Justin Pugh said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “He’s the first one in, last one out. He knows what the defense is doing before I think some of the guys on the defense know what they’re doing. I know the younger guys, myself included, are always in awe as offensive linemen how how he’s able to see defenses, see rotations, see what’s happening and then he just leads by example. He’s not a rah-rah, scream-and-yell, get-in-your-face (guy). He’s going to be calm, cool, collected in the face of adversity and in the midst of chaos, and that’s what makes him so great. You don’t realize it until you play with someone like that how special that is.”
Manning’s top target, of course, is Odell Beckham Jr., who, at 24, is 12 years younger than Eli. Sterling Shepard, 23, is 13 years younger, and rookie tight end Evan Engram, 22, is 14 years younger.
That has to make for an interesting dynamic, no? Old Man Eli and the Millennials?
“It definitely is,” said Pugh, 27. “I think who you surround yourself with definitely makes you feel that age. So I think we might be breathing some of that new millennial feel into his life, but it’s definitely a fun atmosphere to be around. We have a lot of personalities on this team learning how to work together and work toward that common goal. Everyone here wants to win. So having that little breath of fresh air, I’m sure, is helping Eli.”
The Giants went 11-5 last season and made the playoffs for the first time since 2011 – the last time they won a Super Bowl. New York hopes to get back to the Super Bowl this season.
“We have a lot of talent on this team, probably some of the most talent I’ve had since I’ve been here across the board,” Pugh said. “We got to go out there and we got to prove it. It’s crazy to think that not a lot of guys on this team (have) playoff experience. Obviously in the past, the Giants have won the two Super Bowls, but not a lot of guys are left from those two teams. So we got to go out there and we really got to really build off the confidence that we got last year and grow from there.”
The Giants open the season at Dallas on Sunday Night Football on Sept. 10. Kickoff is at 8:30 p.m. ET.