Eli Manning
ESNY Graphic, Getty Images

Future Hall of Fame quarterback Eli Manning’s time with the New York Giants has come to an end. Fans should celebrate his legacy. 

Almost 16 years ago, a 23-year-old quarterback out of the University of Mississippi by the name of Eli Manning was selected No. 1 overall by the then-San Diego Chargers in the 2004 NFL Draft. He was subsequently traded to the New York Giants and the rest is history.

The Mannings had become a household name after decades of dominance. Eli had to fill the giant shoes of his MVP brother Peyton and Pro-Bowl father. After 16 years, he will end his time with the Giants as a future Hall of Famer (assuming he doesn’t return in 2020).

Manning garnered a great deal of praise upon entering the draft, due mainly to his success in college. All these years later, it is without question that he lived up to that hype. Giants fans are lucky that Manning refused to play for San Diego.

It’s really odd that Manning was able to flourish in a place like New York. He was, and still is, a little awkward, soft-spoken and gives the impression that he’s apathetic.

His facial expressions have done him little help; he always finds himself on the back pages of newspapers and internet memes. It took him some time to figure it out, but Manning has become a New York sports legend.

Eli is the most important Giant of all time. He’s really the reason why this team was in any type of serious football conversation since 2004. Simply speaking, the Giants in this millennium are irrelevant without Manning.

Eli is seventh all-time in both passing touchdowns (366) and passing yards (57,023). He’s one of five players to be named Super Bowl MVP more than once. He’s also the only quarterback to beat Tom Brady in the two Super Bowls.

Along with the New York Yankees, the Giants are the city’s most successful sports team this millennium. Big Blue is even more impressive because they won managed to win a championship.

That doesn’t happen without Manning. He welcomed the heavy burden that comes with being an athlete in New York with open arms. Even with all he’s done for the Giants and the city of New York, Manning has always been disrespected.

Fans constantly hear and read about how he doesn’t deserve to go to the Hall of Fame. They’re told he’s overrated, that both of his Super Bowl wins were flukes, and that he only achieved success in his career because of the Giants’ elite defense. Many are quick to criticize and slow to praise him.

Manning was frustrating at times. When he would lose a big game, fans wanted to see his anger and dissatisfaction. When he would win, they wanted to see excitement. He never gave the fans the emotion he was looking for.

The one thing no fan could argue or deny was his clutch gene. Manning put on stellar performances when it mattered most, and he’s one of the best ever in that regard.

Daniel Jones, Danny Dimes T-Shirt

Another one of Manning’s defining characteristics is his humility. He never bragged and never spoke highly of himself. He let his actions speak for themselves.

Manning embraced his role as Daniel Jones’s backup this season, even if he didn’t like it. He was an incredible mentor to the Giants’ young quarterback.

The good he’s done off the field is also invaluable. Fans will never forget the impact he has on this city.

From refusing to play a snap in San Diego to being traded to New York. Manning embraced the challenge of playing in such a ruthless city. He carried his teams to glory. It is as though Manning wanted to conquer challenges his whole career.

All Giants fans love No. 10. He’s already a legend.

No Giant has ever done more for this organization. Fans who watched him will tell their children and grandchildren about the legend that was Eli Manning.

Leen has written about the MLB, NBA, NFL, NHL, and international soccer. She is currently the primary NHL writer for ESNY. Leen's work has been featured on Bleacher Report and she was formerly a contributor for FanSided's New York Mets blog, Rising Apple. She is a co-host of the Yankees-Mets Express podcast.