Interim head coach Steve Spagnolo named Eli Manning the starter for Week 14:
When the Giants huddled for their first practice of the week, the offensive linemen did the gentlemanly thing and introduced themselves to the new guy in the red jersey. That player was Eli Manning, who won his first Super Bowl for the franchise before most of the roster graduated high school – and in some cases, middle school.
No. 10 is back.
In the wake of an emotional week that revolved around the end of Manning's consecutive starts streak and culminated in the dismissal of longtime general manager Jerry Reese and second-year head coach Ben McAdoo, Steve Spagnuolo had his first decision to make as the interim head coach. Team president John Mara said in his Monday press conference that it was ultimately Spagnuolo's call as to who would start at quarterback, and the defensive coordinator chose the player who will start for the 223rd time in the Giants' last 224 games, including postseason.
The streak resets to one game this Sunday when the Giants host the Dallas Cowboys.
"So, a couple of things I know you're going to be interested in," Spagnuolo said in his first press conference as interim head coach. "The first one is Eli Manning will be the quarterback for this football team in this game. Okay, the 'why Eli?' All I can tell you is this. When John Mara and I talked, one of the first things he asked was about the quarterback situation, and I said, 'John, my gut right now is that Eli should be the starter.'
"What you have to understand is when I was coaching just the defense, I had the blinders on and all I'm worried about is the defense. I stay in my lane. So, I didn't have my eyes around what was going on on offense – who was playing what. None of that. So, I took my gut and visited with the offensive coaches and together with that and my gut, Eli Manning is going to be our quarterback."
Spagnuolo also met with Manning.
"I just wanted him to know that I do want to play," Manning said. "I want to be the starting quarterback, I want to be out there and I just want to make sure that he knew that. He said that he was going to think about it and talk with the coaches, but his gut said that I would be the starting quarterback. So, I'm happy that he went with that decision and he has the faith in me we can go win this football game with me as the quarterback."
Just like last week when Manning had to take on an unfamiliar role and wear an earpiece on the sideline instead of a helmet on the field, Sunday will be another emotional day, especially after hearing the response from fans and former teammates.
"It helped me to kind of keep my head up during last week and just realize the impact you've made on so many people and the championships and the games and how I've conducted myself makes a difference," Manning said. "So, all the former teammates that sent me text messages that voiced their opinions on things, even some players that I just met over the years, the text messages and their support was very helpful and I appreciate that a lot."
While the plan is in place for Sunday, future Sundays remain uncertain.
"Hey, this is all I know," Manning said. "This is all I know, is playing for the New York Giants and I've never wished to change that. I appreciate everything the Giants organization has done for me and you have so much family in this building. From the Mara family, the Tisch family, people in the equipment room and the film room, the training room. I've known a lot of these people for 14 years and grew up around them. So, this is all I know. Hey, I'm going to finish out this season and then I'm sure there'll be a discussion with the organization to figure out what's the plan going forward."
One thing is not in the cards, though.
"No retirement plans," Manning said. "So, that's not on my mind."