Eli Manning’s old teammates put him in awkward position
Considering the plight of his former team and his former quarterback, Shaun O’Hara took a dim view of how the Giants recently supported Eli Manning.
“To be honest with you, they’ve wasted the last few years of Eli’s career,’’ O’Hara said this past weekend at Landon Collins’ Celebrity Softball Game. “They’ve wasted his prime. And it’s been hard to sit and watch that happen.”
Mainly, O’Hara — the starting center on the Super Bowl XLII championship team — and many Giants from that time period bemoan the crumbling of the offensive line, a deterioration that Manning could not overcome as his statistics plummeted and losses mounted.
“At the end of the day he’s got guys like me coming after him every play,” said Justin Tuck, a former Giants defensive end and current Manning supporter. “And if you don’t have people up in front of you that you can trust? We all know what Eli can do when he is healthy and when he has comparable athletes around him. I don’t think he had those. Anything other than that, you are just lying to yourself.”
Manning nodded when the words of O’Hara and Tuck were mentioned to him. “I appreciate those guys saying it … those guys are always loyal,’’ he said, but he would not point the finger at the Giants or decry the players they put around him the past few years.
“No, I don’t look at it that way,’’ Manning said Monday afternoon at the Guiding Eyes for the Blind Golf Classic at Mount Kisco Country Club. “I still think I have some peak years left, so we can make it right. I appreciate everything the Giants have done and I’m excited about being there this year and taking advantage of this year.’’
The new front office rebuilt the offensive line, signing Nate Solder and Patrick Omameh in free agency and taking Will Hernandez in the second round of the NFL draft.
“I’m glad to see that they’ve found a way to correct it,” O’Hara said. “But Eli can still play the game. People forget Peyton [Manning] set an NFL record, threw 55 touchdowns in one season at 37 years old, after three neck surgeries. So I laugh at people that say Eli can’t play, because I know he can play. I know he can throw the rock. And I know that he’s still got that fire. I’ve been around him. I’ve been around him in the off-season. I’ve been around him even last summer. He still has that passion to play. He’s a competitor, that’s what you love about him.’’
Manning received a rousing ovation last week at a Town Hall event for Giants season-ticket holders. “I think it’s good to see that the fans are excited and I’m excited to be back and give them something to keep cheering for,’’ he said.
The Giants continued their roster tinkering, signing offensive tackle Jarron Jones (Notre Dame) and defensive back Kenneth Durden (Youngstown State). Neither has played in an NFL regular-season game. Rookie tackle Tyler Howell was waived.
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