Benching Eli is a stain on the Giants that won’t wash away with McAdoo

Eli

Ben McAdoo is finally out in New York, but not before delivering a remarkable snub to Super Bowl MVP QB Eli Manning. Chris Smith argues The Giants should never have allowed the contentious benching to happen.

The New York Giants finally fired head coach Ben McAdoo following a defeat by the Oakland Raiders on Sunday. GM Jerry Reese is joining him in the unemployment line as a team with Super Bowl expectations sits on just two wins.

Giants fans will say it’s overdue, I’ll say it should have happened one week earlier, at the very least. It should have happened before McAdoo was allowed to denigrate the legacy of one of the team’s all-time greats.

The benching of Eli Manning for Geno Smith (a former Jets cast off no less) was last act of a man desperate to save his own behind; shifting the blame, at the expense of a player who’d made 210 consecutive starts in the toughest league in the world and won two championships in the process.

With McAdoo and Reese gone, word immediately flowed from the Giants brass that Manning will start at home to the Cowboys next Sunday. It’s too late now though. The damage has been done.

The truth is this should never have been allowed to happen and the blame rests with the Giants’ management. As soon as McAdoo floated this idea, he should have been shutdown or relieved of his duties.

At 2-9, did anyone in New York expect McAdoo to return in 2018, given the expectations going into the season? Hell no! This was a lost season. Would a couple of wins going down the stretch have really changed things? Teams in this position take the draft pick and start again next season with a new coach.

McAdoo, a man who looks like a crooked 1970s police chief who just  got outfoxed by the straight-shooting detectives in his department, was dead in the water by October. This much was clear. So why was he allowed to show such disrespect to Manning in this way?

There’s no way McAdoo actually believed Geno Smith, with an injury-ravaged receiving corps and underperforming O-Line, would do better. The Giants brass had to step in here and they failed to. This is on them as much as it’s on McAdoo.

This is a stain on the Giants that doesn’t disappear by firing him. The team’s owner John Mara said he could have vetoed it, so why didn’t he?

Manning’s 2017 numbers haven’t been great (14 TD/7 INT), but his passer rating (84.1) is only down 3 points on his last Super Bowl winning season. The problem on the Giants wasn’t with Eli, who lost Odell Beckham Jr. and Brandon Marshall to injuries early in the season.

The thing is, Eli is 36. He’s entering in the dusk of his potentially Hall of Fame career with the Giants. If the team truly knew the end was nigh and had a young QB they were grooming for the spot then you could understand looking to the future and giving him some experience in low-pressure situations.

But they didn’t. They had Geno Smith. A man with 5 years in the league, 12 career wins in 35 games and more interceptions (35) than touchdowns (29). The Giants chose to disrespect arguably their best player of this century, for that?

They broke his streak of never missing a game – a potentially career defining stat – for that?

Manning was visibly emotional while speaking to reporters shortly after being informed of the decision. They made Eli cry, man! But he took it like a man and pledged to battle his way back in.

On Sunday, he stood diligently on the sidelines while Smith floundered (like he was ever going to do anything else) and supported his teammate. It was the last thing a player who has always conducted himself with class and grace, win or lose, deserved.

As a Liverpool fan, it reminded me of the time Brendan Rodgers (another never-was with an unjust ego so big it had its own zip code) embarrassed Steven Gerrard by benching him for his last game against Manchester United.

It was an absolute travesty and if I were a Giants fan I’d be absolutely furious with the team’s ownership.

At least when Peyton left the Colts you could understand the reasoning behind the decision. I really hope Eli follows in his brother’s footsteps and goes to a team that understands his value and allows him to end his career on a high. I can think of a least ten teams who’d be better with Eli under centre.

Thank you, Eli…

It’s a shame, because I’ve always had a bit of a soft spot for The Giants; especially as a Dolphins follower. How could I not? In the last decade they’ve denied the New England Patriots two further Super Bowl victories. Tom Brady would have 7 (SEVEN) rings and the Pats would share the ’72 Dolphins record as the only NFL team with a perfect season on their resume, if not for the Giants.

Secondly, and this is a big one too, they’re not the Jets. Any Fins fan that has had the misfortune of sharing a stadium with division rival Jets fans (especially after a defeat) every year will share that sentiment.

To me, the Giants have always seemed like the Mets, to the Jets’ Yankees. A little softer, a little friendlier, a little less obnoxious. They’re the type of folks that’ll say “good game” over a beer rather than try to fight you in the concourse. That might not be wholly true, but that’s my experience.

Then there was Tom Coughlin, at one time the nation’s red-cheeked exasperated Grandpa you couldn’t help but root for.

But mainly my affection for the Giants derived from one Elisha Nelson Manning IV, the team’s two-time Super Bowl winning quarterback. He’s among my favourite NFL players, along with Aaron Rodgers and Cam Newton. I wish I could pick a Dolphin to join that list, but…

It started during the 2011 season when Manning led the Giants to seven fourth quarter comebacks and eight game winning drives during that year, It was so damn fun to watch.

He was never the fastest guy with the biggest arm, but I loved how clutch he was with the game on the line; the way he always found a way to come through when it really mattered.

I lost count of how many times I tweeted “I bELIeve in Eli” during that season.

If The Giants are losing belief in Eli after all these years, that’s almost understandable, but losing respect is a different thing altogether.

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Chris Smith
Launched myself into US sports after moving to South Florida. Here to write about Dolphins, Heat, Phillies and big talking points from the NFL, MLB and NBA.
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