Eli shares special relationship with Justin Tuck; talks 2016 season

Posted Feb 3, 2016

Eli Manning texted Justin Tuck following his retirement announcement and the two have remained close

SAN FRANCISCO – Eli Manning said today he reached out to Justin Tuck when he heard his former teammate and fellow Giants captain announced his retirement early this week after 11 NFL seasons. Tuck, like Manning a two-time Super Bowl champion with the Giants, played his final two seasons for the Oakland Raiders.

“I sent him a text when I got that word,” Manning said Wednesday. “Justin and I have been friends for a long time. I have great respect for him. He was obviously a great leader of the Giants in our Super Bowl runs, a tremendous player. Just told him how appreciative I was of our friendship, of our brotherhood of being teammates. Having those championships together, we’ll always have those memories and moments. Just how much I appreciate him and the way he handled his business on and off the field, his class act, and just what a privilege it was to know him from a friend standpoint and also from a professional standpoint.”

Manning discussed numerous topics while speaking with reporters for about 15 minutes after attending a news conference in the Super Bowl 50 Media Center to discuss his partnership with FedEx Cares, whose goal is to donate $200 million to 200 countries worldwide by 2020:

*On Tom Coughlin stepping aside and Ben McAdoo becoming head coach.

“I guess it’s possible,” Manning said. “The only way you can always have total control of that - the best way is to keep winning a lot of games and making playoffs, and hopefully you can somewhat control it. It is tough. It is tough to make a change from a new offensive coordinator and new systems. I think there will obviously be changes with Coach McAdoo taking over for Coach Coughlin, but having the offense stay similar will be helpful.”

*On what “needs to be fixed” for the Giants to be in a position to contend for a championship.

“It’s simple, you got to play better football,” Manning said. “I think we did some things better last year than we did the previous. Obviously, the record didn’t really show that. I think we were competitive in more games, and had a lot more opportunities to win games than the year before. We have to find ways to win those tight games, to win those close ones. That’s just a team, getting guys with great leadership, and great enthusiasm, and knowing what it takes to win those close ones, and having the confidence to go out there and make it happen.”

*On what it means to be one of three finalists for the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award (with Anquan Boldin and Ben Watson).

“Honestly, I think when you get nominated as one of the top three people for the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award, I think you’re a winner no matter what,” Manning said. “I think it’s just an honor to be included with Anquan and Ben Watson. Proud of the work that I do off the field with charities, and feel like I make a difference in people’s lives. Count my blessings every day, try to pass on some of those blessings to other people who are going through tough times. Feel whoever’s name they call on Saturday, we’re all winners and we’re all doing good things to help out our communities and help other people.”

*Regarding reports the Pro Bowl could be played in Australia, and whether he would go.
“I heard those reports,” he said. “That would be interesting. I’ve never been to Australia, but yeah, I’m a big fan of the Pro Bowl. I think it’s an honor to be invited every year, and if it moved to Australia, I’d hop on the plane and carry three small children, whatever, 20 hours on a plane and make it happen.”

*On whether he’s excited to return to London, where the Giants will face the Rams on Oct. 23. They defeated Miami in the first NFL game there, in 2007.

“I am, I’m excited to come back,” Manning said. “I thought it was a great honor to be part of the first team - us and the Dolphins - to play in that first game in London. Excited for another opportunity to go back there. We did win that game. I think I ran for more yards than I threw for, which might be a first. It wasn’t my best performance, but a great opportunity to go back there and hopefully get another win, have a good performance.”

Note: Manning threw for only 59 yards, but ran for 25, including a 10-yard touchdown.

*On Peyton Manning’s legacy.

“I know he doesn’t want to talk about it, the legacy,” Eli said. “From an outsider looking in, I think his impact on the game, on the NFL, especially the quarterback position, has been made. He’s kind of set a standard for playing up-tempo football, the no huddle, being able to get into any play, being that offensive coordinator on the field that you’re seeing more and more teams do. He kind of started that trend, and able to play at an extremely high level and win a lot of games, and be a part of some of the all-time great offenses. I think he’s been an ambassador for the NFL and for the quarterback position for a long time.”

*With Peyton Manning’s health constantly being discussed during the buildup to Super Bowl 50, Eli was asked about his health after his 12th NFL season.

“I feel great,” he said. “I feel very healthy, I’ve been fortunate there. I feel like I have my best football ahead of me, and can play at an extremely high level. For the last two or three years, I said I’ve got five more years in me. I still feel like I’ve got five more years in me, so I’ll just keep saying that until I don’t have any more.”