Eli Manning is one of the NFL's very best quarterbacks, but that hasn't spared him from doing pushups after every practice the last two years. In 2010, Manning and backup Sage Rosenfels hit the ground for 10 post-practice pushups. This season, Manning and David Carr concluded every workout with 15 - or more - pushups.
The quarterbacks were joined in the exercise by Mike Sullivan, who had Manning and Co. extend their practice time for a few moments when he began coaching the quarterbacks in 2010 after six seasons as the wide receivers coach.
"That's actually something I started," Sullivan said today. "I think, at the end of the day when you think your work is done, you can always do a little bit extra. So that was our way of, 'We can do a little bit extra.' We did 10 in 2010, that wasn't good enough, so we did 15 this year. Knock it out, quick stretch, a couple words, and that's it. Hey, at the end of the day, just when you think you're finished, you can always do a little bit extra. That was our way of reminding ourselves."
"Each coach has his own little stamp and the pushups were something that was fun," Manning said. "This year, we started with 11 and we started to bump it up a little bit. We were a little superstitious, so by the end of the season I think we were doing 17 or 18."
How many post-practice pushups the quarterbacks do in 2012 will be determined by Manning - and a new quarterbacks coach. Sullivan is leaving the Giants after being named Saturday as the offensive coordinator of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers by new head coach Greg Schiano.
Sullivan was one of seven coaches who had been on the staff during Tom Coughlin's entire eight-year tenure as head coach.
"I'm very, very excited and looking forward to a challenge," Sullivan said. "Coach Schiano has a great vision of where he wants that program to go. I'm excited to work with the coaches there and meet those players. As Coach Coughlin has said many times here, you get to the top of the mountain, you realize there's one more mountain to climb. I'll always cherish the memories here with the Giants and so many wonderful people, not just coaches and players but front office people in the organization. That's the difficult part, the relationships my wife and I have made with people in the community. We'll always, always hold on to that and cherish that and be grateful for it. I'm just excited about taking this next step and this new opportunity. I feel very, very blessed."
"We appreciate everything he's done with us and wish him well in his new assignment," Coughlin said. "He will bring a lot to the Buccaneers program. He's disciplined, he's hard-working, he's efficient, he's smart, he makes good decisions. He'll have an immediate impact on all the players in that program because he comes from a background which speaks for itself. Mike is a graduate of West Point. He was a Ranger, so he certainly knows about discipline, sacrifice, self-denial, all those things. We're sorry to lose him, but we do understand the nature of this business. We wish he and his wife Julie and his two daughters great success in their new assignment."
Manning had his finest statistical season for the 2011 Super Bowl-champion Giants. He set Giants single-season records for pass attempts (589), completions (359) and yards (4,933). The yardage total was the fourth-highest in the NFL this season and the sixth-highest in history. Manning's 29 touchdown passes were the second-highest total of his career (he had 31 last year) and his 16 interceptions were nine fewer than he threw in 2010. His passer rating of 92.9 was the second highest of his career (he had a 93.1 rating in 2009). Manning threw an NFL-record 15 touchdowns in the fourth quarter.
In the Giants' four-game postseason run, which culminated in a 21-17 victory over New England in Super Bowl XLVI, Manning completed 106 of 163 passes (65.0 percent) for 1,219 yards, nine touchdowns and only one interception.
"I'm extremely excited for Coach Sullivan, but I'm sad to see him go," Manning said. "We had a great relationship. He is a tremendous coach who pays attention to every little detail. He always had us well-prepared."
Sullivan was similarly complimentary of Manning.
"Working with Eli, it was wonderful to see the hard work, the commitment, and the focus on all the little details," Sullivan said. "He's such a true professional. I think there was a definite determination and attitude he brought to the table this year to focus on being the best he could possibly be, whether it was small mechanical things, or footwork, or different things in practice. Or taking it a step further into greater detail in terms of game plan preparation, the dialogue, the communication, cracking the code for various opponents was a great deal of fun. To be able to see firsthand and work with him toward accomplishing a goal, I think, was really very rewarding for me and something that will be a great model to use in the future as far as, 'Hey, what's the best way to prepare and be the best you can be?'"
As a receivers coach, Sullivan worked with outstanding players like Amani Toomer, Plaxico Burress and Hakeem Nicks.
"It was a tremendous opportunity here and I'm so honored and humbled to have worked with a great receiving corps, so many great players, and of course, the past two years with Eli Manning," Sullivan said.
Sullivan's first NFL coaching job was as a defensive assistant for Jacksonville in 2002, Coughlin's last season as head coach of the Jaguars. He stayed in Jacksonville the following season as an offensive assistant.
In 2004, Coughlin joined the Giants – and Sullivan soon followed.
"I had a couple of different opportunities, and was actually contacting Coach Coughlin to see if he would call on my behalf about another job," Sullivan said. "But he said, 'What? You're not going there. You're coming here.' So that kind of progressed rapidly and I'm so grateful and thrilled to have had that opportunity."
"I hired Mike Sullivan in Jacksonville as a quality control coach," Coughlin said. "He had been recommended by Bob Sutton, who had been the head coach at West Point. When we came here, Sully actually had something else going on but wanted to be here with us, and came with us. He has been outstanding. He has been outstanding in two ways – he did an excellent job as receivers coach, and he did an excellent job as quarterbacks coach. He is, in my opinion, an outstanding football coach. We appreciate everything he's done with us and wish him well in his new assignment."
With Sullivan's departure, Coughlin has six coaches remaining from his original Giants staff: Kevin Gilbride (offensive coordinator), Pat Flaherty (offensive line), Michael Pope (tight ends), Jerald Ingram (running backs), David Merritt (secondary/safeties) and Jerry Palmieri (strength and conditioning).
"Words can't really describe how blessed I feel about these past eight years with the Giants organization," Sullivan said, "the tremendous ownership of the Mara and Tisch families, the front office with Jerry Reese and, of course, Coach Coughlin. He's been such a great man. He's my mentor, my role model, he gave me an opportunity in Jacksonville, he gave me the opportunity to come up here and coach receivers, gave me the opportunity to coach quarterbacks. And at a time when a lot of coaches and a lot of general managers are blocking assistants from having a chance to pursue other opportunities, advancements if you will, I will be eternally grateful for Coach Coughlin and Jerry Reese supporting me in this. I think the world of Tom Coughlin. I love him. I wish him and the rest of this organization the very best."
The feeling is certainly mutual – except when the Buccaneers visit MetLife Stadium to play the Giants next season.
*The Giants announced the signings of three players to reserve/future contracts: defensive end Craig Marshall, tight end Ryan Purvis and offensive lineman Chris White.
Marshall, 6-4 and 279 pounds, is a former teammate of Jason Pierre-Paul at South Florida. He originally signed with the Giants on July 28, 2011 and was waived on Sept. 3. Marshall did two short stints on the Giants' practice squad in November.
Purvis, a 6-4, 261-pounder, was signed by Tampa Bay as a rookie from Boston College in 2009. He spent most of that year on the Buccaneers' practice squad. Purvis began the following season on the practice squad before he was signed to Tampa Bay's active roster on Oct. 25. He played in 10 games and had five catches for 28 yards, with a long reception of 12 yards. Purvis started three preseason games for the Bucs last summer, but was waived on Sept. 3 and did not sign with another team.
White, 6-2, 303, is a seven-year veteran guard who was signed by the Giants on July 30, 2011 and released on Sept. 3. He has played in 33 NFL games with eight starts, all with the Houston Texans in 2009. The following year, White played in six games for the Seattle Seahawks. A product of Southern Mississippi, White entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent with the Green Bay Packers in 2005. He played in one game that year and none in 2006, when he was waived by Green Bay and signed by Houston. He spent parts of three seasons with the Texans before joining the Seahawks on Nov. 3, 2010.