New York Giants: Luck retirement sheds light on “Iron Man” Eli Manning

New York Giants. Eli Manning. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
New York Giants. Eli Manning. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images) /

Saturday night Indianapolis QB Andrew Luck suddenly retired from football at age 29 due to injury. His departure shows just how valuable Eli Manning has been for the New York Giants.

Saturday night I was at a Smashing Pumpkins concert when my brother handed me his cell phone. The headline was that Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck retired. Two thoughts ran through my mind when I saw it. The first was, wow, he’s only 29 years old. Second, how fortunate the New York Giants have been these many years with Eli Manning under center.

Andrew Luck became a member of the Colts at the 2012 NFL Draft as the number one overall pick. Several quarterbacks were chosen with the first pick between when Manning received the honor in 2004 and Luck. Aside from Matt Stafford in 2009, none were as highly regarded as the former Stanford Cardinal signal-caller in2012. For the record, those QBs included Alex Smith (2005), JaMarcus Russell (2007), Sam Bradford (2010), and Cam Newton (2011).

After six NFL seasons played (he missed all of 2017), a multitude of injuries got the better of Luck and he hung up his cleats. I wish him well as he transitions from the game. Hopefully, he can live the rest of his life relatively pain-free.

That brings me to Eli Manning, who for all intents and purposes, and despite the best efforts of former Giants head coach Ben McAdoo, has been an iron man for Big Blue. Since taking over for Kurt Warner during his rookie season, on November 21, 2004, Manning has missed ONE game. He sat out on December 3, 2017, not due to injury, but rather due coach’s incompetence.

From 2004 until now, Manning has represented the New York Giants with excellence and class. He’s been quite fortunate over his career to have avoided serious injuries. That’s not to say the double Super Bowl winner has never been hurt. On the contrary, he’s played through a plethora of difficulties including, but not limited to ankle sprains, a three-inch gash resulting from a hit to his un-helmeted head, a sprained neck from a knee to the head, and sore back just to name a few.

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One injury I’d like to highlight that shows how tough he is, happened in 2009 when Manning suffered through plantar fasciitis beginning in October. For those unaware of what that is, let me explain. Plantar fasciitis is inflammation of the thick tissue the stabilizes the heel on the bottom of the foot. I can tell you from personal experience, it happened to me three years later, when the pain gets bad enough, it feels like stepping barefoot on a sharp rock every time weight is put on the foot.

A normal course of treatment is to stay off the foot, take anti-inflammatory medicines and stretch. Of course, that’s for non-serious cases. The more work the foot does the worse the injury gets. An NFL quarterback in-season doesn’t have the luxury of resting and popping ibuprofen. Additionally, when it gets that bad, the next step of treatment is cortisone.

Once again, from personal experience, a cortisone shot in the heel is akin to getting stabbed with an ice pick. Medical professionals will tell you its one of the most painful injections the give. Manning played almost the entire 2009 season in that condition. He still threw for over 4,000 yards and 27 touchdown passes. After my experiences with the same injury, I had a newfound respect for that warrior wearing the New York Giants number 10 jersey.

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Now many members of Big Blue Nation are ready to cast the future Hall-of-Famer aside in favor of Daniel Jones. As the torch is eventually passed, remember how fortunate the franchise has been to have had Eli “Iron Man” Manning running the offense for over a decade-and-a-half.