EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Eli Manning declined today to say what his plans are for the future, other than to reveal what he doesn't want to do.
Asked he if would consider returning to the Giants for another season as the No. 2 quarterback behind Daniel Jones, Manning said, "I doubt it. Backing up is not real fun."
Neither is the prospect of becoming a coach.
"I felt like I was kind of a coach this year and I didn't enjoy it that much," he said. "I guess I take it back, I am coaching my third-grade basketball team with my daughter. I'm the assistant but I take it pretty serious and I'm enjoying that. I'll consider some coaching jobs."
He'll have to if he wants to keep working, because Manning has probably worn a Giants uniform for the last time. Jones, who threw 24 touchdown passes in his rookie season, is entrenched as the Giants' starter, the job Manning held for 15-plus seasons. Manning could retire or perhaps seek a starting job with another team. If the two-time Super Bowl MVP has made up his mind, he wouldn't say publicly.
"Everything is an option," Manning said soon after the announcement that Pat Shurmur had been dismissed as the Giants' head coach. "That's the first decision, whether I want to continue to play or not. Then go from there.
"I am going to think about it. Just dwell on it and talk to my family and figure out what's best for me and us and what I want to do going forward."
Does he have a timetable?
"I don't," Manning said. "No plans, just sit on it and hopefully have that answer on what I want to do and what my next steps are. I don't want it to linger around, I want to try to make that as soon as possible. I'll think upon it a bunch these next days and weeks and try to figure out what I want to do."
The man who is seventh on the NFL's all-time list with 366 touchdown passes was asked if he still has quality football left in him?
"That's what I'll decide and try to figure that out," he said. "I think I can still play but I'll figure everything out."
Manning has long said he would not want to wear the uniform of a team other than the Giants. But what if another team offers him the opportunity to compete for a starting job?
"That will come into the consideration," Manning said. "That's what I will be thinking about these next couple of days."
Manning, of course, is one of the most accomplished players in Giants history. He led the team to two Super Bowl victories, never missed a game due to injury in 16 years, holds almost every significant franchise passing record and has been an iconic figure on and off the field. This year, he started the first two games before Shurmur made the decision to replace him with Jones. Manning stepped back into the lineup when Jones sprained his ankle early this month. He led the Giants to a victory against Miami in the season's most emotional day.
In what was likely his last game with the Giants, Manning never left the sideline in yesterday's season-ending 34-17 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles.
Today, he stood in front of his locker as his teammates packed up and cleared out and engaged in the familiar give-and-take with the media.
"Obviously, it's kind of tough to know how you are going to feel on this day," Manning said. "I think it takes a little time for it to truly sink in. I have so many fond memories and that's the great thing about football. You can reflect on the good things and you can choose what to remember and what to forget. I'm going to choose to remember the wins and the fellowship here with my teammates and coaches from the past season and from the 15 seasons prior. Too many great memories and laughs and wins and celebrations to worry about the tough parts."
This was the 95th season of Giants football. No player in the franchise's storied history has played more seasons (16) or more games (236 in the regular season) than Manning. No other quarterback started and won two Super Bowls. He has been a leader and mentor to hundreds of teammates. So, what is Manning most proud of?
"It's easy to say the championships and I think those are special memories," Manning said. "I think just the work every day, came in committed to getting better and finding ways to win games and to improve myself and improve my teammates. I'm proud of the friendships and being a good teammate to all the guys that came in here. Trying to help out anybody who needed help and work. I think the commitment was there and sometimes you got the result, sometimes you didn't. I think I always gave myself, this team, and this organization everything I had."
That is one tremendous legacy.