We have learned with great agony and anguish that COVID-19 plays no favorites — even if you are Eli Manning.
The retired Pride of the Giants is just like the rest of us — held hostage inside his New Jersey home, practicing social distancing, washing his hands, quarterbacking his wife and four young children with the same strength and leadership he always showed when he quarterbacked the Giants to Super Bowl XLII and XLVI championships.
When Eli is not changing diapers for his infant son, he is getting in a run outside or exercise in his home, helping his daughters with any schoolwork, following orders from the powers-that-be and carrying out the most important and critical game plan of his life as he waits with the rest of us for a brighter day.
There was never a game he didn’t think he couldn’t win, and he is here now giving all of us hope with an uplifting message.
As America’s Quarterback.
Q: What would your message be to New York, to New Jersey, to all of America really, during this harrowing time fighting the coronavirus?
A: We’re doing everything possible to get through this. We’re taking the right steps, and obviously, this is an uncertain time. But, I think this country, and the Northeast and New Jersey and New York, are resilient and we’re tough and we kind of find a way to fight through things. That’s what we’re gonna have to do. You just kind of figure out a way. It’s not gonna be easy, it’s not gonna be perfect, and there will be ups and downs and struggles. But we’re gonna help out each other, we’re gonna lend a hand when we need to, and that’s kind of what this is about: It is an unknown, it is something that’s new. But, it’s something like that we will figure out and get a handle on and beat it.
Q: Describe what daily life is for you right now with Abby, Ava, Lucy, Caroline and Charlie.
A: Right now it’s really about the kiddos. … Abby is kind of handling the older two kids [Ava and Lucy], and I get the 5-year-old [Caroline] and the 1-year-old [Charlie], so I gotta entertain them. … That consists of like playing dominoes, coloring … the 1-year-old’s walking around, and just kind of preventing him from hurting himself too badly.
Q: The good news is Charlie has no idea what’s going on.
A: Oh yeah, this is just normal life for him.
Q: How do you and your wife Abby explain to the girls, and the oldest, Ava, 9, what’s going on?
A: We explained it, just told ’em that there’s just another virus going on. They know what the flu is, the virus like the flu goes around your classroom, now it’s just going around the whole world, and we just gotta stay inside for a little bit, can’t go around people. We can go outside and play in the yard or do things with ourselves, but when we do go out, you just gotta wash your hands a lot and just stay safe and let this pass us by and then things will get back to normal.
Q: Do you get out every day?
A: Today’s a pretty day, so let the kids run around, try to do some physical activity for them. My wife’ll go to the grocery store every couple of days and load up on stuff. We’ve been hunkered down really since last Monday. We’ve been committed to it and stayed true to it.
Q: Got any Netflix recommendations?
A: (Chuckle) For whatever reason, we have not watched as much TV as I feel other people are. The kids have, the kids have watched some, but when you have a 1-year-old, you’re running around, but when he’s taking a nap, that’s when I can try to get my workout, I’ll go for a run outside. … I’m kind of helping around the house and doing my chores to kind of prepare for the next meal or next [school] assignment or next activity, or picking up after four kids.
Q: You don’t do any cooking, right?
A: I don’t think anybody wants to witness that or go through that, so no. I’ll hop on the grill and grill a steak or grill some chicken, but that’s kind of the end of my expertise.
Q: How do you deal with no sports?
A: March Madness, I think I’ll miss that. I don’t watch a ton of NBA basketball. … I don’t watch a lot of TV knowing there’s not a live sporting event I’m looking forward to watch.
Q: You’re reading the New York Post, right?
Q: When was the last time you threw a football?
A: When was the last game? Whatever the last game was was the last time I’ve thrown a football.
Q: How often have you been washing your hands?
A: When you have a 1-year-old, you end up washing your hands a lot after changing diapers. I don’t think I have a set amount. I think I definitely washing ’em probably randomly. You kind of pass the sink, just wash your hands. I’m not out and about touching random things. If we get groceries, we kind of wipe things down, and if we get a package, wipe it down, and are taking this very seriously and doing our part by social distancing and doing everything to try to prevent getting the virus right now.
Q: Has your diaper game improved?
A Diaper game’s strong, it’s strong. He’s a fighter, he tries to roll around a little bit, but I got a pretty good grasp on him. … When he tries to run away from me or wiggle around, I gotta kind of show him who’s boss.
Q: How’s mom and dad?
A: If I don’t talk to ’em every day, it’s every other day and see how they’re doing. They’re in New Orleans, which is a little scary, because it’s hit hard there in New Orleans. But they’re being safe, they’re staying in and they’re feeling good. They’re kind of doing everything that they need to do.
Q: How are Peyton and Cooper doing?
A: They’re doing well. Cooper’s in New Orleans. He texts me about every other day. He takes out his kids to do like a football workout run, and so he texts me for a new run for them, how long to sprint, how long to rest. I got a stockpile on 20 years of doing some sort of conditioning run, so I’ll send him a few of those … 18 60-yard sprints, they gotta make it in 8 seconds, with a 15-second rest and a few-minute rest after six reps, so three sets of reps, something like that.
Q: That’s for his son, Arch, a high school QB sensation?
A: That’s for his son, yes. He’ll respond and say, “That was a good one.” or “That was a tough one.” I don’t know if that’s coming from him or coming from his son. I have a feeling he’s just a timer. I’ve not asked if he’s doing the run or not.
Q: Thoughts on Tom Brady leaving the Patriots for Tampa Bay?
A: I was surprised, how it all worked out. I just did not imagine him leaving, them letting him go and him going somewhere else, just from my experience. But for him to have had all the success, do everything he’d done in New England and did it with one organization, I guess you just kind of wonder what was the reasoning? I don’t know if he felt unappreciated, or just wanted to try something different, but was surprised that this went down.
Q: Do you think this is the end of the Patriots’ dynasty?
A: No, I don’t necessarily think that. I think they still have a very good team, a great defense, great coaches, Obviously Tom was a very important part on their success over the years, but I think they have kind of a way and they have a system that [Bill] Belichick has implemented there that I think will continue to find ways to have success, but it will be different. If they go out and get a new quarterback, or stay with the guys they have, it might not be as it’s been in the past.
Q: How good can the Buccaneers be with Brady throwing to Mike Evans and Chris Godwin?
A: Obviously part of the reason to go there is because of the weapons they have at receiver. It’ll be good for Tom to have those weapons.
Q: Do you think they’re a Super Bowl contender now?
A: I never believed you can win the Super Bowl in March and April. You kind of start the process. It’ll be interesting when teams’ll be able to get back together. They are missing the spring and missing time in practice and throwing together until a little but later in the spring, that’s valuable time for a quarterback to kind of get on the same page and learn a new offense and figure that out.
Q: Philip Rivers to the Colts?
A: Philip did not leave his hometown [San Diego] when the Chargers left San Diego and went to L.A. For him to change organizations and go somewhere else, it’ll be interesting. Obviously I think he can still play at a high level, he can still throw it and is smart and will do everything possible. They have some good weapons and are a good team, and so I think he will be able to help ’em and play well.
Q: What do you know about new Giants linebacker Blake Martinez?
A: I think he’s a good player. I haven’t studied him extremely well, but he makes a ton of tackles, and he’s around the ball, so I think he will be a good fit and make a lot of plays. I don’t know much about just from a leadership standpoint and all those things, so hopefully he’ll be a great leader and be able to get the defense back on track.
Q: New No. 1 Giants cornerback James Bradberry?
A: He does a good job making plays on the ball. It seems like he’s a smart guy reading things and kind of knowing when he can be aggressive and jump certain routes. I feel he is a good player who should be able to fit into the system and play well.
Q: What was your reaction when Jason Garrett was hired as Giants offensive coordinator?
A: Coach Garrett’s been successful and has a good offensive mind. Obviously has ties to the Giants and to New Jersey and this area, and so I think it’ll be a good fit for him. He’s had some very successful offenses over his entire career with Dallas. He’ll do a good job and work hard, and I think probably excited to get back into calling the plays and being involved in implementing that offense and putting his offense in.
Q: Do you think Daniel Jones’ second-year leap could be interrupted?
A: It has the potential to be. A couple of things could make it difficult in the fact that it’s gonna be a new offense that he’s gotta learn, and things get pushed back and you’re not there to be around your teammates. It’s not just him learning it, it’s kind of everybody learning it together. Hopefully they can get back soon and he can grow as a leader of the team.
Q: New defensive coordinator Patrick Graham?
A: I think Patrick’s a hard worker, and been around great defenses and great teams before. So I think he knows what it takes and what you have to do to gameplan and not just run the same defense but attack offenses and how to slow ’em down. I think he’ll do a good job.
Q: What’s the plan with the Manning Passing Academy?
A: It’s not until late June, so we do have a little time to kind of see how this all plays out. We’ll see how this next month goes, and then maybe have to start making decisions there. Hopefully, as things kind of get into the late spring and summer, this thing clears up.
Q: Any idea when the NFL might start up?
A: No, I don’t think anybody had any idea when anything will start up. Each day, each week, will kind of tell a different story. You don’t know how this thing is spreading. Hopefully we’re kind of, as they say, flattening the curve, but you know it’s still out there, and you hear more cases every day. And so we just gotta buy our time and wait through this and make sure we don’t do anything that makes this worse. Unfortunately we just gotta be patient and kind of let this thing ride out.
Q: Is it a scary time for you?
A: It’s just an uncertain time. I’m not scared of it, just uncertain and we just gotta wait and as I said, be patient. I think I’d be more anxious if I knew I was playing football next year, and I had to get out and start workouts and really start throwing and I gotta get to a gym, but I don’t have those things I have to be doing right now. I have the things that are important to me right here in my house, and that’s my family, and so I’m taking care of them and do I think I’m at peace with that.
Q: Any athletes in any sport are going to have some anxiety when they go back, don’t you think?
A: Yeah, I’d say so. Everybody’s been all over the world, you don’t know what the health and what the situation is, and all of a sudden one player kind of gets this virus and then you know how easily it could spread and how dangerous that could be for a team. That’s why we gotta be really safe. And I think the owners and the league knows that.