Many current and former NFL players took to Twitter and shared their opinions on the Giants’ decision to bench Eli Manning, but no one was more outspoken than the veteran quarterback’s predecessor, Kurt Warner.
Warner began the 2004 season as the Giants’ starting quarterback, but was later benched in favor of Manning, who was a rookie at the time. Manning took the reins after Warner led the team in its first nine games of the season, and the Giants quarterback hasn’t missed a start since that time. He has started 210 consecutive regular-season games, a streak that will likely come to an end on Sunday, as the Giants announced Geno Smith will start in place of Manning against the Raiders in Week 13.
The move came as a shock to many, as it was believed that the team would allow Manning to finish out the season. He helped the team win two Super Bowls, and it was surprising that the Giants wouldn’t let him go out on his own terms in the offseason, which would have been the professional way of handling the situation.
Warner clearly didn’t agree with how the Giants organization dealt with Manning, and he shared his thoughts on Tuesday, shortly after the news regarding the veteran’s benching broke.
“This is so much bigger than Eli Manning,” Warner explained on NFL Network’s Up To the Minute Live, as transcribed by Jeremy Bergman of NFL.com. “This is about an entire organization that has gone sideways, and if you got one guy that represents what this organization has been about and the character and the success of this organization it’s that guy who has been under center in Eli Manning. He’s never done anything but show character and do things the right way. Kudos to him for saying, ‘If you’re just starting me for this streak, forget it. I want to compete. I want to play football, that’s why I’m here.'”
“To me, shame on the Giants,” he said. “This is one of those things to me that you need to start Eli with the idea of we’re going to try to win every game. If it gets sideways, then maybe you go to the young guys but this isn’t something where you go to Eli and say we’re definitely going to play these other guys. This guy has earned the right to compete every game that he’s there in my opinion because it’s not just him. If it was just Eli Manning, and he wasn’t playing well and the rest of the team was there, I’d understand making the change. This is so much better than that. To me it’s amazing it has come to this for a guy who has really been a model for that organization. … I’m just disappointed that it came to this.”
We can’t fault Warner for coming out and sharing an opinion shared by many. The Giants have a reputation for being a class organization, but the way they treated Manning wasn’t a good look for them. Manning has always been a high-character guy, and he deserves better.