Eli Manning benched by Giants for Geno Smith
East Rutherford, N.J. — Eli Manning is not going to be the starting quarterback for the New York Giants for the first time in more than 13 years.
And yes, he is not happy about it and hurt. Tears welled in his eyes talking to reporters and his chin quivered when asked about how much this hurt.
The Giants announced on Tuesday that Geno Smith will start in place of Manning when the Giants (2-9) face the Raiders in Oakland on Sunday.
Coach Ben McAdoo gave the 36-year-old Manning the option of starting to keep his streak of 210 consecutive starts alive, but the two-time Super Bowl MVP didn't want any part of that.
"You start knowing you are going to come out of the game to keep a streak alive, maybe, that's not what it is about," Manning said.
"It's not a preseason game where you are going to start to the half, the next week a quarter, a series, that's not fair. That's not fair to me, not fair to Geno, not how you play. You play to win. When you are named the starting quarterback you think it's your job to go win the football game.
"If you are going to play a little bit, I didn't think it was the right way to play," said Manning, who become the Giants starting quarterback 10 games into his rookie season in 2004, which was about a month or so before Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz turned 12 years old.
Manning's face and eyes got redder the more he talked, adding it's been a hard day for him and he needs time to figure it out. His session with the media lasted less than four minutes. He then took his backpack and left the locker room.
McAdoo said he made the decision to start Smith over the weekend, and co-owner John Mara and general manager Jerry Reese were in agreement.
The second-year coach said the organization needed to learn more about Smith and rookie third-round draft pick Davis Webb in the final five weeks of the season. He refused to say if this was the end of the Manning era with the Giants.
Manning and Smith were told about the decision on Tuesday, and later the team was filled in.
"It is my responsibility to make sure we have a complete evaluation of the roster, top to bottom, especially the quarterback position moving on to next season and with that we are giving Geno an opportunity to show what he can do," McAdoo said.
McAdoo also plans to give Webb an opportunity, but probably not this week. Manning will be the backup.
Manning's streak is the second-longest streak by a quarterback in NFL history, behind Brett Favre's 297.
He has started every Giants game since Nov. 21, 2004, when he took over for veteran Kurt Warner in the 10th game of his rookie season.
Manning has also started 12 postseason games, and twice led the Giants to Super Bowl victories.
A second-round pick in 2013, Smith signed with the Giants as a free agent in the offseason after being released by the Jets. He played in only two games in 2016 with his season ending with a major knee injury.
Smith told Manning that he supports him and has his respect.
"This guy has done a tremendous job in this league," Smith said. "He has done a bunch of things for this organization and none of that can ever be taken away or forgotten. This is a business and it's tough. My number is up so it is my time to go out there and do what I am supposed to do and make sure I get the job done."
Manning holds almost all of the franchise's major passing records. This season, he has thrown 14 touchdown passes and only seven interceptions. He will turn 37 on Jan. 3.
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