There are some days where something seismic happens in New York sports, and you kind of have to pay attention if you live here.
Wednesday was one of the days. Things were going along normally, no big whoop, and then all of a sudden around 4 p.m., an era ended.
Eli Manning, brother of Peyton, son of Olivia, Archie and the city of New York, was benched. The man who won two Super Bowls for the Giants, whose completely-expressionless face appears on billboards and signs throughout the tri-state area (seriously, you can’t get away from the guy, even my Mom knows what he looks like), was benched after an incredible 210 straight starts at quarterback.
This has been coming for a while, even if Giants fans don’t admit it. Peyton’s bro hasn’t been good for a few years now, creating more turnovers than an excited baker on their first day, and the Giants are terrible this year. It makes sense to want to see younger quarterbacks on the roster play, even if one of them is the horrendous Geno Smith (every Jets fan is laughing right now).
But the way the Giants handled this today, just really poor. The head coach, Ben McAdoo, was awful and awkward in explaining the decision, basically saying it was Eli’s choice, and they threw Manning to the interview wolves while he fought back tears.
This is probably the end for Eli in N.Y., and he’s had such a strange career. Many of his seasons were terrible, and he made you wonder just what he was doing. But he had two amazing, transcendent years in 2007 and 2011 and led the Giants to two improbable Super Bowl titles, and that’s usually enough to get someone into the Hall of Fame, and a lifetime pass to go out on their own terms.
I was talking about Eli with my man Jeff Pearlman after the news broke, and we couldn’t decide if Eli was a Hall of Famer or not. Your gut reaction says yes because of the postseason success, but his overall stats aren’t all that great.
Still, he is an icon, a model of durability who, like the last N.Y. athletic icon to retire, Derek Jeter, managed to live an entire career in the spotlight and barely make a misstep.
I’m no Giants fan, of course, but you can’t help but admire Eli for composing himself with class and humility his whole career. He deserved to go out better than this.
**Next up today, another in a sensational series of short New York Times documentaries caught my eye Tuesday. This one is incredibly beautiful and powerful, about a 92-year-old woman named Klara, escaping Auschwitz, and family. Some amazing storytelling here.
**Finally today, I’m not sure what I can say that would be more shocking to you about this expose the Washington Post newspaper did today, about a fake source trying desperately to get the Post to report that she was raped by Roy Moore at 15, hoping that they’d report it, she could tell them it was all a scam, and therefore make everyone in Alabama convinced that all the women accusing pedophile Senate candidate Roy Moore of assault are lying.
Or, as ABC News’ Jake Tapper Tweeted Tuesday, rather succinctly:
“To reiterate: James O’Keefe hired a woman to pretend she had been sexually abused in an attempt to undermine actual victims of sexual assault and child molestation.”
The details of this story are horrifying, and amazing, and … I really don’t know what to say. Except: James O’Keefe, you’re going to a very, very warm place down below when you die, sir. And you deserve nothing less.