NFL Football – The Scapegoating of Eli Manning
When a team that was picked by so many to make the postseason goes 2-9 over its first 11 games of the season, it’s not surprising to see an organization make drastic moves as a reaction to such a catastrophic failure.
But almost nobody would’ve thought that the New York Giants, who are off to that very miserable start this year, would end up benching two-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback Eli Manning as part of the fallout.
The move was met with total outrage amongst New York fans. Not only was Manning responsible for two of the most iconic plays in the franchise’s history, but he was a first-class ambassador for the team, in a league that’s struggling with its perception in the public eye. If there’s a singular reason why the New York Giants have gone 32-43 over the last five years, and will miss the playoffs for the fifth time in six years, Manning very likely isn’t that reason. So why has the organization made him the fall guy for the team’s failures?
If anything, Giants General Manager Jerry Reese, who has emerged as one of the most reviled members of the organization, has done a reprehensible job of giving Manning the foundational pieces for a functional offense. The Giants haven’t had a thousand-yard rusher since 2012. It’s been even longer since they’ve had a Pro Bowl-caliber offensive lineman. Without Odell Beckham Jr, the offense came to a grinding halt. In fact, it can be argued that the only reason why the Giants finished with a 10-6 record last year was because of the team’s $206 million free agency binge prior to the 2016 season. That shopping spree allowed the team to re-sign defensive end Jason-Pierre Paul, and acquire defensive end Olivier Vernon, defensive tackle Damon Harrison, and cornerback Janoris Jenkins.
But just like when someone goes on a shopping spree and charges it all to their credit card: sometimes you have that buyer’s remorse, and you always end up having to pay the bill. Vernon has recorded 12 sacks in 23 games, but he’ll be making $16.75 million this year. Jenkins was suspended by the Giants for conduct detrimental to the team; he’s making $15 million this year. Pierre-Paul has 13.5 sacks in 13 games, but has made $16.9 million since the start of the 2016 season.
What do those contracts have to do with Manning’s benching? Simple: the Giants are the only team in the NFL that doesn’t have a single penny of salary cap room at this moment, and Manning is the highest-paid player on the team right now. So the benching of Manning is a way for the team to try and garner some money, now that the bill for their spending is coming due.
Don’t believe for a second that Manning’s benching has anything to do with “trying to help the team win games,” as head coach Ben McAdoo is trying to convince people. In fact, don’t believe for a second that this move was McAdoo’s decision, even though that’s what the team is also trying to sell. You don’t let a lame-duck head coach abruptly bench the most beloved player over the past decade-and-a-half. This decision came from the top of the organization — right from the Mara family. There have been plenty of rumors swirling that the team has been directed to start looking at the top quarterbacks in the 2018 NFL Draft, fully knowing that this team is in need of a major overhaul.
It’s simply reprehensible, though, that Manning has been made the public face of the team’s 32-43 record over the past five years. But with the way this season has gone, and with how empty Reese has left the team’s talent cupboard, their karmic retribution won’t be far away. Buy a football sports mouth guard with strap now.