Giant big Eli Manning finds freedom off the football field

The double Super Bowl champion and retired Giants quarterback Eli Manning is an expert at getting critics to shut up from the gridiron to the stands in his third-class daughter’s basketball game.

The gentle, quadruple Pro Bowler defined an era of Giants football, cutting a contrast to the NFL’s great personalities before retiring in January 2020 with a long list of franchise records.

Today, the quarterback who became a girls basketball coach lets his hair down, enjoys the relative anonymity that a face mask provides, and stands empty of critical parents.

“You do not have the parents shouting at you because their child is not playing enough,” Manning, 41, told Reuters. “I thought, ‘No, I’m not sending emails. I do not accept any criticism. Like we’re going out there. We play.'”

It’s the kind of flair that even his avid fans might not have seen in his playing days, where he performed one of the biggest interruptions in professional sports to beat Tom Brady’s undefeated New England Patriots at the 2008 Super Bowl.

“I did not want my fans to think I was doing anything but football,” Manning said. “I just wanted them to think that was all I did … And to some degree, that was a little true.”

Two years after retiring, he has almost dropped that mindset, singing along to Olivia Rodrigo’s Gen Z anthem “good 4 u” in a breathtaking post-season advertising campaign for Frito-Lay and PepsiCo with other life-size NFL characters , including Terry Bradshaw, and enjoying the popularity of the “ManningCast” show he launched last year on ESPN2 with his brother Peyton.

“I definitely had another side of me that my teammates knew,” he said. “They saw me a little to relax, or I could let go of my hair a little. And then, yes, I think now it’s pretty much all that – I do not have to hide anything … you’re just a little bit more relaxed and willing to put yourself out there a little more. ”

Manning predicts more success for MVP candidate Aaron Rodgers this post-season, with quarterback Green Bay Packers getting a week’s rest thanks to a goodbye in the first round.

“I just do not know who will go into Green Bay and beat them at home,” said Manning, who watches the Tennessee Titans take the AFC.

“I feel that even though they (the Packers) are seed number one, they’re still an underdog. Nobody really gives them a chance, and I think they like that,” Manning said.

“They do not blow guys out, but they find ways to win. And I just think having that quality is a great thing to have in the playoffs.”

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