The remainder of the New York Giants under the championship-winning leadership of Tom Coughlin and Eli Manning, after a long battle with locker room cancer and complications from transplants, died on Thursday night in the comfort of their own home.
Born in 2004 when Coughlin and Manning came on board the organization, Coughlin resigned in 2015, leaving the team in the hands of Ben McAdoo and Manning. Upon the massacre Manning endured on October 11th, 2018, what is left of this era is now deceased. As we move on from battle and into a happier place – the history books – we examine the legacy that these New York Giants leave behind; A legacy of loyalty, competition, and pride.
Eli Manning and Tom Coughlin’s Legacy Will Prevail if the New York Giants Prepare to Move On
After Jim Fassel was dismissed and subsequently released from his position as head coach of the Giants, Coughlin was awarded the position in 2004 after having worked as the team’s wide receivers coach from 1988-1990. That same year, Manning was the most coveted prospect in the NFL Draft after a brilliant college career at Mississippi. The San Diego Chargers selected Manning as the first overall pick in the draft, despite Manning’s refusal to play for the team. Manning cited his disdain for the employment as stemming from his father’s difficult career playing for teams that wouldn’t bring him success. That very night, his trade to the Giants was announced.
Manning became the starting quarterback in the middle of the 2004 season, replacing Kurt Warner. The team made two appearances in the Wild Card Round of playoffs and featured such legends as running back Tiki Barber and Michael Strahan.
In 2007, Manning and Coughlin led the organization to their third Super Bowl championship, defeating the New England Patriots, who were a 12-point favorite. In this matchup, we saw the mobile Manning complete the famous “Manning to David Tyree pass.” The Giants won the NFC East again in 2008.
After a brief collapse, a new training center, and a move to the New Meadowlands (or MetLife Stadium), Manning and Coughlin won another Super Bowl against the Patriots in 2011. This team featured Pro-Bowlers Jason Pierre-Paul and Victor Cruz.
Post-Coughlin, Carrying On
Another handful of win droughts later, Coughlin stepped down in a mutual agreement with the organization in 2016. Though the team was taken over by eventual failure McAdoo, the new head coach did lead the team to playoffs in his first year, as Coughlin’s team carried with its usual brilliance and pride.
The Giants’ 2017 season began slowly, as McAdoo lost control of his locker room in the suspensions of Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Janoris Jenkins, and lost Odell Beckham Jr., Brandon Marshall and Dwayne Harris to season-ending injuries. In Week 13, McAdoo controversially pulled Eli Manning from the starting lineup, replacing him with Geno Smith and ending Manning’s 210-game consecutive starting streak. McAdoo and general manager Jerry Reese were both canned on December 4th, 2017.
The Final Battle
Under newest head coach Pat Shurmur, who dispelled rumors in the off-season that Manning would be ushered from the organization, the Giants have suffered. A rebuilt office, led by new general manager Dave Gettleman, and a newly structured team featuring a 4-3 defense and some studly rookies… well, all teams need time to adjust.
After a short week following an almost-win against the Carolina Panthers, the Giants met the reigning division and Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles Thursday night. Early on in the game, Big Blue showed struggles and ultimately completed only one drive for a touchdown. Their loss on Thursday deepened their low record to 1-5, reaffirming their lowest place in the NFC East, and nearly assuring the end of their season.
The Future of the Family
While Manning fought Coughlin’s fight as best he could for the years after his departure, Thursday’s performance ushered the era of Coughlin and Manning into the afterlife. The Giants we once knew will always live on in our hearts, but will only be revived once a new quarterback is at the helm. Should the Giants immediately seek a replacement for their playmaker, all is not lost. The family will seek greatness once more under new leadership, and the best way to recover from this loss is by ushering in a new leader.
The 2019 draft class boasts young quarterbacks such as Daniel Jones from Duke and Justin Herbert from Oregon. Still, the Giants acquired a very talented Kyle Lauletta from Richmond this past year, and with more time on the bench, he could very well be a successor for the organization once great.
While he is groomed as either a future starter or formidable backup, it is vital that the Giants take action before the deadline to find a starter to usher in the 2019 season. Young Teddy Bridgewater has been bench warming for the New Orleans Saints since the end of August, and with Drew Brees’ successes this year, he is hardly necessary for the team. There are numerous available free agents, and additionally, a young and fearless quarterback Colin Kaepernick—all players who might be the answer to making use of the rest of this season as an alternative to letting Manning’s legacy rot in defeat.
Last Word on What’s Left Behind
The 2004 NFL Draft produced three Pro Bowl caliber quarterbacks, all taken in the first round, in Manning, Philip Rivers, and Ben Roethlisberger. Rivers has proven himself useful with the Chargers, as Roethlisberger has with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Manning began his career in New York, and his passion for the Mara organization will suggest that his career will effectively end there. Even if Manning were to be traded off, his history in East Rutherford is a strong one—one for the books, when paired with Tom Coughlin’s name. Their legacy is represented in many successful career players, and in the death of Manning’s career this week will live on as a victorious era for the New York Giants. In Manning’s replacement, we will find the remission of a different kind of locker room cancer.