Eli Manning ends football hiatus to throw with Larry Fitzgerald
It's hard to believe it's been over eight months since Eli Manning stood at the podium at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center in front of friends, family, team employees, former teammates and coaches to officially retire from the NFL.
The legendary Giants quarterback did not pick up a football for a while after riding into the sunset. In fact, following the team's season finale against the Miami Dolphins on December 29th, Manning did not pick up a football for around seven months. It wasn't until an old friend called in the middle of July that the two-time Super Bowl MVP finally threw for the first time in a long time.
That friend? 11-time Pro Bowl wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald.
"So, since December 29, I've thrown a football one time,'' Manning told Paul Schwartz of The Post. "One day, a buddy of mine asked if I would throw him some routes. He was in the area and I said I would do it just for him...
"Yeah, it was Larry Fitzgerald, he was in town and called me."
Manning and Fitzgerald have developed a close relationship since they both entered the league in 2004, Manning as the No. 1 overall pick and Fitzgerald as the No. 3. Both went on to have incredibly successful careers, all spent with the same franchise. Manning played 16 seasons with the Giants, leading the team to two Super Bowl championships, while the 37-year-old Fitzgerald is currently in his 17th season with the Arizona Cardinals.
The pair of future Hall of Famers met at a high school field in a New Jersey suburb, where they threw and ran about 40 routes.
"I think we both looked old,'' Manning joked. "It worked out. I can't throw it that far and Larry can't run that far. Pretty good timing, my deep ball and his 4.9 speed worked pretty well together.''
While this throwing session with Fitzgerald was the first and only time he's picked up a football since retiring, Manning has not abandoned sports altogether. The all-time Giants great told Schwartz that he has, at the recommendation of his wife Abby, begun to play tennis in his post-football life.
"I never played tennis in my life,'' Manning said. "I've hit a tennis ball, maybe picked it up and messing around but I've never played a competitive match of tennis before until two months ago...
"I'm not bad. I've beat some guys. I'm not a superstar. My technique's not there, but if you ask me to hit it over the net, yes, I can hit it over the net. Still trying to figure out topspin and certain shots and the serve and whatnot. I'm making improvements.''
Photos from the career of two-time Super Bowl MVP quarterback Eli Manning