After years of waywardness spent in the cellar of the NFL, it appears that happy days could be here again for the New York Giants. An optimistic air surrounds the team entering the 2021 season, as the franchise has surrounded its young and emerging core with talent through an ambitious offseason. And as the Giants seek to take the next step from being the Fighting Joe Judges to becoming true contenders in the NFC East, one of the franchise's greatest players ever is excited for what's to come.
Speaking to NFL Network at the Manning Passing Academy, former Giants quarterback and two-time Super Bowl MVP Eli Manning expressed optimism for the team's chances this season, sharing that he was excited to re-join the team in a new role (business operations and fan engagement) and take advantage of the opportunity to watch the Giants as a fan for the first time.
"It's still a work in progress, but I am excited to be back. Just to see the players, to be around them," Manning said. "I still communicate with Daniel Jones and Saquon (Barkley) and Sterling Shepard and the guys that were there. I'm excited to go to a Giants football game as a fan. I've never done that before. I've never gone as a fan, I've never been inside the stadium and watched the game, I've never watched the game with my kids before besides on TV. So I'm excited to take my kids to the stadium, root on the Giants, root for a big win, and kind of enjoy that with the fans."
While it's been a full year and a half since Manning retired at the conclusion of the 2019 season, the specter of Manning's career has far from dissipated, especially as it pertains to third-year quarterback Daniel Jones. Jones' development is actively being charted alongside the development of Manning at the same point in his career, and the Giants' biggest move of free agency -- the addition of Pro Bowl wide receiver Kenny Golladay -- was directly compared to the Giants' acquisition of Plaxico Burress for Manning's sake in 2005.
Jones' circumstances have differed from Manning's, as the coaching staff around Jones changed from his first to his second year, prompting him to have to learn a completely new offense on a still-rebuilding team. While Jones' second season saw a dip in his production, Manning believes that the continuity around Jones has him on the cusp of breaking out.
"Now at least going from [year] two to three, he has the same offense, the ability to kind of grow within the offense," Manning said. "It's not just the quarterback being comfortable, it's the offensive line, receivers, everybody getting on that same page. And so I'm excited for him, excited for the team, and look forward to good things."
While Manning's protege and successor in Jones stakes his claim to being the team's franchise quarterback, Manning himself won't be far away. Manning recently took a job with the Giants in a business operations and fan engagement role, and he will be inducted into the team's Ring of Honor and have his No. 10 officially retired in Week 3.