The New York Giants’ decision to bench longtime franchise quarterback Eli Manning in favor of rookie Daniel Jones after a 0-2 start to the season is a “hard pill to swallow” given his contributions with the team, fellow NFL great Terry Bradshaw told FOX Business.
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Manning, 38, has earned more than $250 million and won two Super Bowls with the Giants, at one point making a franchise record 232 consecutive starts. But after back-to-back losing seasons and anemic offensive production to start the 2019 season, Giants head coach Pat Shurmur announced Tuesday that Jones, a first-round draft pick in March, would start Week 3 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
“I hope Eli’s OK with it, because he’s such a good dude. I hope he’s OK with it. I’m sure he isn’t. If they came to me in Pittsburgh after two weeks and they said ‘Terry, we’re going to have to go with so-and-so, I’d shake their hands, I’d pack my bags and I’d go home, because that would be a hard pill to swallow after all of that,” Bradshaw said. “I understand why they did it, but it is a hard pill to swallow for Eli.”
Bradshaw, who led the Pittsburgh Steelers to four Super Bowl wins in the 1970s and works as a FOX NFL Sunday analyst, said a midseason quarterback switch, after eight games or so, would have allowed the Giants to test Jones’ ability to be a new franchise cornerstone without insulting Manning. By pulling Manning just two games into a new season, he argues, the Giants were dismissive of Manning’s status as a team legend.
“Eli and I spoke this morning,” Shurmur said Tuesday. “I told him that we are making a change and going with Daniel as the starter. I also talked to Daniel. Eli was obviously disappointed, as you would expect, but he said he would be what he has always been, a good teammate, and continue to prepare to help this team win games.
Jones became Manning’s de facto heir apparent when the Giants drafted him sixth overall and impressed during the preseason, completing 29 of 34 pass attempts for 416 yards and two touchdowns during extended play.
The timing of the switch came as a surprise to some, given the Giants’ decision to enter the 2019 season with Manning under center rather than release him to sign with another franchise. The Giants have scored just 31 points through the first two games.
“I feel for him, I truly do. That’s a horrible position to be in after so many great years as a Giant,” Bradshaw added.
Manning led an offense virtually devoid of top-tier playmakers, aside from running back Saquon Barkley and emerging tight end Evan Engram. At age 38, Manning might benefit from a fresh start with a well-stocked NFL contender looking for a quarterback to lead a playoff run, according to Bradshaw. But any team change would likely have to wait until the offseason, unless the Giants opt to trade Manning and he agreed to waive a no-trade clause in his contract.
“If [the Patriots] don’t protect Tom Brady, if they don’t continue to put people around him that excel, he doesn’t do what he’s doing,” Bradshaw said. “They protect him, and as you get older as a quarterback, your skills only get better. Your brain gets better, you see things quicker. … If you send [Manning] to a good football team, I believe he would excel. I truly do.
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