The last goodbye.
Eli Manning will get the start Sunday against the Dolphins at MetLife Stadium, his first start there in three months. It will be the 234th start of his career — and most likely his final start.
This gives Giants fans the chance to say a proper goodbye and thank him for a career that includes two Super Bowl MVP awards.
Manning wasn’t about to get emotional about the start Friday, after head coach Pat Shurmur made it official, saying the Giants wanted Daniel Jones to get another week to rest his ankle sprain.
At his locker, Manning declined to talk about the start, telling reporters he spoke Wednesday and really nothing has changed since then, noting, “I’m good. I’ll see you on Sunday.’’
Yes, he will.
One more Sunday. One more start.
One more day Giants fans can see No. 10 behind center and think back to what Manning brought to the Giants. He was never the perfect quarterback, but when it counted most in those two Super Bowls, he was pretty perfect.
His career has been highlighted by professionalism and class, and one more win will give him a 117-117 lifetime record. Jones almost certainly will return the following week, and Giants fans can only hope that one day he delivers two Super Bowl trophies like Manning did.
“I think with Eli, he’s going to stay in the moment and keep playing,” Shurmur said. “He’s going to play this game knowing there are two more left, and he may be the starter in the last two. He’s done it his whole career, staying in the moment. My guess is he’s going to do it that way this time.”
You wouldn’t expect anything else from Manning.
He deserves to have this Send-Off Game. Giants fans deserve it after the disgrace of this season and the team’s 2-11 record, yet another lost year. The Giants cut Janoris Jenkins on Friday after his terrible tweet and terrible “apology.’’ The less said about Jenkins the better. The Giants did the right thing.
Giving Manning the start Sunday is the right thing to do as well. There needs to be a proper separation point for both Eli and the fans.
Saying goodbye is always difficult. But it is time. Manning deserves this start to end his career. In the Giants’ locker room, all the great names from the organization, players and coaches, are painted in a ring above the lockers.
I always felt it was interesting that the name above Eli’s locker is Lawrence Taylor, the greatest Giant of them all. Eli Manning’s name will be up there soon as well.
Fans, as well as teammates, felt comfortable with Manning. To get the proper perspective, listen to what Giants tight end Scott Simonson, who grew up in New Jersey, told me:
“I was at the game when Eli came in for Kurt Warner,’’ Simonson said with a smile. “My dad used to get season tickets. I grew up watching Eli. I was a die-hard Giants fan, watched the two Super Bowls.
“Sunday will be special. It will be special for me, the fans and I’m sure it will be special for Eli, too, even though he has a good poker face. Eli has earned respect from this whole fan base in the tri-state era. For him to do what he did and have the career that he did in this area, that is hard to do. Hats off to the guy. And the entire time he was the same guy. He never changed. He never got a big head. Watching him as a kid and then meeting him and seeing who he was on the inside made me gain a ton more respect for him because he’s that kind of guy. He treats everyone the same, whether you are working in the cafeteria or you’re making a ton of money.
“I’m honored. I caught my first touchdown pass from him and I had him autograph it. I got it against Indianapolis last season and gave it to my dad for Christmas, so it gave me a good Christmas present. My dad got a little teary eyed. You could not have written a better script.’’
For Eli Manning, one final page will be written Sunday. Fans, enjoy the day.
For more on the Giants, listen to the latest episode of the “Blue Rush” podcast:
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