The New York Giants are suffering an identity crisis. As the 2024 NFL draft nears, they are waffling over whether they still believe Daniel Jones is their future at quarterback or if they have to draft a new one next weekend.

In short, they are looking for the next Eli Manning.

Manning, who the team traded for on draft day in 2004, led the franchise to some of its greatest moments while never missing a game due to injury and comporting himself with class and dignity.

Jones has shown some of Eli’s traits but there’s no mistaking him for the future Pro Football Hall of Famer. Jones is often injured and has struggled in key games over his five-year career in New York.

Eli was, for intents and purposes, the Giants’ unicorn and goat all at the same time.

“He’s the greatest big-game quarterback I’ve ever been around or even watched,” retired Giants head coach Tom Coughlin told Newsday. “You look at his eyes on game day and it’s like sending laser beams from his eyes. He was so into what he’s doing.”

The Giants miss that. Sure, there were days when Eli looked as if he hadn’t played a down in his life, but when the stakes were high, he rose to the occasion.

One thing the Giants could always rely on was Eli’s availability. He started 210 consecutive games for the Giants from 2004 through 2017.

“I think one thing people don’t realize is what it meant, what a magnificent feeling it was, to know as a coach that he was going to be there every Sunday,” Coughlin added.

“Every Sunday, he lined up and played. He played with a separated shoulder, but he played. And it was important to him that he did. But from the standpoint of coaching, there was nothing he couldn’t do and nothing you couldn’t ask him to do. You could do whatever you wanted to do because he was going to grasp the concepts and he was going to do it to the best of his ability. And that was a tremendous [comfort] for all those years because he lined up and played.”

Giant fans had gotten spoiled with Eli. Jones, although appearing to be a perfect fit as Manning’s heir apparent, hasn’t lived up to expectations.

Next Thursday night at the NFL draft in Detroit, general manager Joe Schoen could walk away with the team’s next franchise quarterback, or he could choose to wait and take a player the Giants can develop.

Either way, there will always be only one Eli. Coughlin tells the story of how Eli stopped to get a sandwich before his pro day and almost missed the event.

“It’s the best passing performance at a Pro Day that I’d ever seen,” Coughlin said. “He really lit it up, and this was with five [receivers] who he’d been throwing with, but he didn’t know them. He didn’t play with them. It was an amazing experience.”

Just another day in the charmed life of Eli Manning.


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