New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning, in an interview with ESPN’s Sal Paolantonio, discusses all things Giants, including draft night, mentoring Daniel Jones, playing alongside Saquon Barkley, Odell Beckham Jr.’s departure, offseason arm maintenance and the loss of Jared Lorenzen. Portions of that conversation, which will air on ESPN on Sunday, follow:
(This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.)
Sal Paolantonio: I want to start with your offseason training regimen. Saw you out there at Summit High School, I think it was, with your teammates. Why did you do that and what did you accomplish this summer?
Eli Manning: Yeah. You try to get with your teammates sometimes in April before you come back. Sometimes when you get back here, you can be somewhat limited in what you’re allowed to do — as weird as that sounds — at this level. Sometimes it’s fun to, you know, kind of meet up with some of your receivers and just start working on some things. It’s good just to throw routes. I was kind of starting to throw already that point.
Paolantonio: I saw a film of it. You were throwing a lot on the run. It seems like you were doing a lot of rollouts and stuff. You looked like you were moving really well.
Manning: It’s something as you get a little bit older, you’re always trying to make sure you can still move around. That’s kind of the first thing that can go. I’m never going to be the fastest guy, but you can still have good feet. We do enough bootlegs and move-in-the-pockets, you know, always be able to throw on the run. Especially in that environment when there’s no defense and no one around you, you have to drop back and just throw routes sometimes. You got to make it hard on yourself and throw on the run and throw off balance and those types of things.
I always work hard every offseason. This year, I got a trainer, a local trainer in New Jersey, who I was able to do weights with. He’s kind of more on the Baseball field, and so I did a lot of arm care and things with him. And then, I have another person who, David Morris, who does more football, drill work. And … I meet up with him a few more times throughout the course of the summer.
Paolantonio: How does your body feel different now that you’re 38? What adjustments are you making to make sure that you’re ready at this age?
Manning: Yeah, I mean, I think you have to work harder the older you get, and just …
Paolantonio: Eat different?
Manning: Eat different, uh, yeah. 100%. It’s all everything in moderation, obviously.
Paolantonio: How do you do that? You’ve got … little kids at home. I mean …
Manning: Sometimes you go with those chicken fingers on the side. I don’t … I don’t order the chicken fingers, but if they leave a few extra, I might, you know, take some. I don’t want to be wasteful.
And so that’s kind of the moderation. You know? Order healthy and then pick off their meals. You’ve got to eat. You’ve got to consume a lot of food. I’m not trying to get skinny, I’m not trying to lose weight, I’m still trying to be able to take hits. You’ve got to be able to move around. You’ve got to be able to stay healthy for a whole season. … You’ve just got to keep working on all those things. If you’re lax on them a little bit, they go quickly, and that’s the difference. When you’re 22, you can bounce back faster if you take some time off. You can regain those kind of traits quicker. When you’re 38, you’ve got to stay on it more because if you lose it, it don’t always come back as fast.
Paolantonio: What did you work on with Al Leiter, former pitcher, about your arm?
Manning: We live in the same town and I’ve always talked with Al about arm care and arm strength, and I told him a few years ago I went out and saw (former MLB pitcher) Tom House. I was working with him with arm care, and he’s always just been interested in it. I saw him this offseason and was just chatting with him. And I asked.
Paolantonio: What advice are they giving you?
Manning: It’s not really Baseball in the sense of, you know, how to throw the ball. It’s more just he was just doing my weight training. You do a lot of arm care in that process.
Paolantonio: Do you use a Baseball at all to work on it, or just football?
Manning: No. Just football. It’s not throwing mechanics. It’s just weight training, it’s the speed work.
Paolantonio: How has it helped you?
Manning: You do throw a football. We just did a lot of throwing early on. … More distance, more velocity, and kind of had a plan, kind of more of a Baseball approach maybe, to, like a long-toss. You’re doing a lot of long-toss earlier in the year for a pitcher. And then kind of bring it in tighter just to help with velocity. So kind of used that approach to football.
Paolantonio: It’s always fascinating to me when you can use the disciplines of other sports to help you in your sport.
Manning: In football, we’re the only position that’s an overhead thrower, and so it’s a lot of lifts. I can’t be doing the same lifts an offensive lineman is doing. Or even a receiver. Our jobs are so different, so I think a lot of quarterbacks have gone into the Baseball world to just learn about proper warm-up. Proper arm care, how to warm down, how much, what are the best exercises and lifts to build arm strength, to eliminate soreness, to be able to throw three, four days in a row. All those things because they just have more expertise in overhead throwers and dealing with pitchers, and obviously in Baseball, everyone’s a thrower. … I think a lot more quarterbacks are going into that world in the offseason to try to get their arms stronger. Or, you know, as guys are getting older, to keep your arm strong.
Paolantonio: Do you feel a difference?
Manning: Yeah. You don’t feel worse, you know? (laughs) You don’t feel like you’re losing distance on my post throws or my out-breaking routes or the throws where you can’t maybe step into it. You can still get a lot of juice on the ball and throw it accurately. So I think as you get older, you don’t want to lose your ability to throw the ball and get the ball down the field or make strong throws — it’s going to make your job harder. And so I just want to make sure I’m staying on top of that.
Paolantonio: Eli, we talked last year. I remember asking you about the drafting of Saquon Barkley, and you were at home and you jumped up on the couch and celebrated, right? So let’s fast forward to this year. They draft Daniel Jones. What was the reaction with the Eli Manning family at home?
Manning: No, it was fine. You know, I knew the Giants were going to get a young quarterback this offseason.
Paolantonio: But at No. 6?
Manning: Well, you know, I didn’t know. I wasn’t shocked by it. Mr. (Dave) Gettleman and Coach (Pat) Shurmur called me prior to it happening and gave me a heads-up it was going to happen, so, it doesn’t change my philosophy. It doesn’t change my approach to this season or what my job is. And so, for me, it’s hey, I’ve still got to … I’m going to work my tail off. I’m going to do everything possible to help this team play at a high level. That’s my mindset.
Paolantonio: It doesn’t? I’m a little skeptical about that. I mean, you got competition from a young man. I mean, if I was feeling competition, I’d try to do something to make sure that I was adjusting my game to make sure that I was competing at the highest possible level.
Manning: Well, you know, I think you’re always going to compete at the highest possible level. That shouldn’t change.
Paolantonio: True enough.
Manning: I’ve still worked hard, I still did everything that I thought I needed to do to be the quarterback, to play at a high level and do those things. You’ve got to be careful saying I got to come out here and start just throwing deep balls and throwing lots of touchdowns and impressing and kind of [trying] to do too much, and you end up making more mistakes and make things worse. I feel more comfortable in the offense now than I did last year at this time … and just have a better feel for everything going on. Hopefully I can go out there and perform at the level I know I can play at.
Paolantonio: You know, you’ve known Daniel. What have you learned about Daniel since he’s joined the Giants and been in your quarterback room?
Manning: He’s done everything we’ve asked him to do. He’s come in here, he’s worked extremely hard, he’s picking up the offense and he’s kind of done it the right way in the sense that each and every day, each week, he’s [become] a little bit more comfortable (with) what the situation is, and how to ask questions. I want him to be comfortable. I always think the quarterback room has got to be a place where you can come and you can talk about anything. There are no stupid questions. Hey, ask away, and we all want everybody to learn. And we’re helping out Kyle Lauletta and Alex Tanney and all the quarterback coaches, and everybody’s in there and we’re trying to help each other.
He’s come in. He wants to I think earn everybody’s respect with his work ethic, ask the right questions and working hard. So he’s done everything the right way and I think he has a bright future.
Paolantonio: We’ve heard Joe Flacco on this subject, and we’ve heard Brett Favre on this subject. From your perspective, Eli, how much is it your job to mentor Daniel Jones as your replacement?
Manning: You know, I don’t look at it as I’m a mentor. I treat it the same as every other quarterback we’ve had over the last 16 years. We’ve drafted other quarterbacks. It doesn’t matter if you’re the sixth pick or the, you know, 200th pick. If you’re in the quarterback room, we’re going to be talking football. I’m going to be in there after practice. I’m going to be watching the film. I don’t just watch my plays, I watch every play going on to learn from it to see what the defense is doing and we’re going to dissect it. … We’re going to talk about it and say what we could have done better. What protection call could we have made? You want to talk football and learn, and I’ve always thought if I can teach, if I can talk about a concept, if I can talk about a protection and teach it to somebody, then it means I really know it. And so I think it kind of helps me in the process as well.
Paolantonio: You know, because it’s … people in the outside world, you know, myself included, about [this topic] would say, you know, I don’t want to train my replacement. Kind of … kind of sounds weird, right?
Paolantonio: And I wonder if that’s something that goes on in your head when you think about it?
Manning: I think it’s just a matter of you want guys to, when we’re practicing, kind of feel it’s like, hey, you want the offense to play well.
Manning: And it’s not just the first team. It’s the second team, it’s the third team, it’s all those. And we’re going to get to defense. It is a little bit of offense versus defense, and you want to prepare all the guys in that room to play at a high level and to know what’s going on and to have a chance to be successful. And I think, you know, nothing changes from that aspect, because you draft a guy with the sixth pick.
Paolantonio: Again, from your perspective, is this a quarterback competition? Do you view it like that?
Manning: When you get into it, like, training camp in the season, you’re not competing against the other quarterbacks. You’re competing against the defense. It’s your offense, you’re going against the defense. And so I think you’re always competitive in the sense that you want to get completions, you want to have good plays, you want to avoid the bad plays, and that’s enough competition. It’s not hey, if I see him throw a deep post or a touchdown, I can’t come back and say hey, I got to match that. I gotta throw a touchdown here. That doesn’t help anything. It’s just each play, you try to make the best decision, make the plays that are there, and then learn from them. There’s going to be mistakes. There’s going to be bad plays, learn from those and make improvements.
Paolantonio: So this is a photograph of the late Jared Lorenzen. You were just at his funeral?
Paolantonio: And that’s a photograph of him trying to bring you down — right before the Super Bowl against The Patriots, the first one. When you look at that, what do you think?
Manning: Well, we always did a drill at the start of practice. It was just kind of a ball security drill, and you dropped back or you’d run a little bit and the other quarterbacks would try to strip it. And, with Jared, obviously, he was a big man and a strong man. And so you’re running, and if he gets a grip on the ball, you know, he can pretty much get it out — and you don’t want a fumble.
It’s just sad, you know, sad going to Jared’s funeral. You see his kids, his parents, and just — he died too young. He was such a good man. You know we came in, we competed against each other, in college when he was at Kentucky a couple of times. We came in the same year as rookies and went through rookie minicamps together. You know, ’07 was the last year with the Giants, but we stayed in touch.
Paolantonio: It must bring back great memories of you and him together.
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Manning: It does. We had a lot of good times in the quarterback room, on road trips, lots of good laughs and good work. We enjoyed our time together.
Paolantonio: And you had great memories with Odell Beckham Jr. here, right? You guys had a great connection, and now he’s moved on to Cleveland. What are your thoughts about him moving on and some of the stuff that he has said, and how you guys are preparing this season without him?
Manning: Obviously I have wonderful memories with Odell. I’ve known Odell a long time, since he was a junior in high school. That’s probably the first time I threw a pass to Odell. Both growing up in New Orleans, we went to the same high school. We had a number of great years and big plays and exciting plays here. Unfortunately this business, teammates move on and go to different places, whether it’s trades or retirement or whatnot. You go through it, and sometimes it’s just not a happy ending. It rarely ends happily for anybody in this league, but obviously feelings get hurt and things happen. People say things. But I think we both want to move on. We both have our futures to look forward to, and this upcoming season to look forward to, and I WISh him nothing but the best and success.
Paolantonio: You all still have a good relationship, I would imagine?
Manning: I hope so. You know, we haven’t talked a whole lot since everything happened, but, I hope, eventually all of this gets put behind and we can just enjoy the places where we are right now and what’s going forward and just kind of laugh about this one day.
Paolantonio: Your offense is adjusting without him and you’re having some flux at the wide receiver position? What’s your mindset going into this season with this offense, Eli?
Manning: Yeah, I’m excited. I’m excited. I think we’ve got off to a good start with this offense. Obviously Saquon’s going to be a huge part of this offense. He’s a tremendous talent and we’re going to find ways to get him the ball.
The offensive line’s settled. … Everybody knows what they’re doing and I think obviously the addition of Golden Tate. Sterling Shepard‘s doing well, having Cody Latimer back. He played well at the beginning of the year for us. Got injured. Played well at the last game of the season. Bennie Fowler. We have weapons. Evan Engram. You know, we’ve got to get Evan going. …We’ll be able to move the ball and throw the ball and run the ball. It’s just we’ve got to execute it.
Paolantonio: And it looks like and it sounds like No. 10’s got a lot of football left in him, doesn’t he?