On the same night that the New York Giants benched Eli Manning, Mike Francesa eviscerated the organization — and reminded viewers of his brilliance.
3:25 p.m. ET: New York Giants announce that Geno Smith will start in place of Eli Manning next week.
3:26 p.m. ET: Rush to the dial, flip to WFAN, listen to an all-time great Mike Francesa rant.
3:46 p.m. ET: Realize that Francesca’s tenure, just like Manning’s, is coming to a close.
3:56 p.m. ET: ???
Former teammates quickly took to social media to voice their displeasure. “Eli deserves much better,” wrote Osi Umenyiora. “Much better. Class person, class player. That’s absurd.”
“I am very emotional about this Eli S–T,” Carl Banks wrote. “The guy who gave you EVERYTHING for better or worse NEVER missing a game and THIS how it ends?? Not #10! He deserves better, He gave is (sic) all when BETTER wasn’t there for him.. and this is how it ends?? I hurt for him …
“I will say it again… He deserves better, and yet he gave his all when Better wasn’t available..REMEMBER THIS.. He Didn’t QUIT on his TEAM a single damn Play!! let that sink in.. HE NEVER QUIT A SINGLE PLAY!!!”
Umenyiora knows. Banks knows. Manning himself knows. Every single person in the Empire State knows. And yet Manning, who led New York to a pair of Super Bowl titles and is “on the Mount Rushmore of New York athletes,” will be breaking his legendary streak of consecutive games played — 210 contests, to be precise, which ranks second all-time to only Brett Favre. People are justifiably upset.
Every NFL team has utilized at least 3 different starting QB since Eli Manning's first NFL start in Week 11 of 2004, and every team in the NFC East has used at least 10. The Browns have utilized 24 starting QB in that time.
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) November 28, 2017
Nobody, however, was as incensed as WFAN Radio host Mike Francesa. “Maybe on the way out you can look at Eli’s rings because that’s the closest you’ll ever get to one,” the outgoing Sports Pope remarked to his audience after the news broke.
Just like Manning, who may have made his last start in blue and white on Thanksgiving night, Francesca is on the way out of WFAN. On Dec. 15, 2017, his career will be over. And just like that, New York will have lost two of its biggest sporting legends.
It’s impossible to overstate how crucial the two have been to the Big Apple landscape. Manning, selected first overall in the 2004 NFL Draft, has been the cool, steady face of New York sports for over a decade. On the other hand, Francesca has been the enraged fan, gaining legendary status for his grating interviews and unforgettable rants.
I’ll have a lot more to say about the two at a later time. For now, enjoy the latest classic, and soak in what could very well be the final curtain for two of the greatest sports personalities ever.