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Warner on Eli Manning benching: 'Shame on the Giants'

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Eli Manning's benching sent shockwaves across the football world Tuesday. The Giants quarterback, who had started 210 consecutive regular-season games, has not missed a game since 2004 when he replaced then-New York QB Kurt Warner.

Warner said Tuesday that the Giants mishandled the end of the Manning era.

"This is so much bigger than Eli Manning," Warner explained on NFL Network's Up To the Minute Live. "This is about an entire organization that has gone sideways, and if you got one guy that represents what this organization has been about and the character and the success of this organization it's that guy who has been under center in Eli Manning. He's never done anything but show character and do things the right way. Kudos to him for saying, 'If you're just starting me for this streak, forget it. I want to compete. I want to play football, that's why I'm here.'

"To me, shame on the Giants. This is one of those things to me that you need to start Eli with the idea of we're going to try to win every game. If it gets sideways, then maybe you go to the young guys but this isn't something where you go to Eli and say we're definitely going to play these other guys. This guy has earned the right to compete every game that he's there in my opinion because it's not just him. If it was just Eli Manning, and he wasn't playing well and the rest of the team was there, I'd understand making the change. This is so much better than that. To me it's amazing it has come to this for a guy who has really been a model for that organization. ... I'm just disappointed that it came to this."

Warner was the last quarterback to start a game for the Giants not named Eli Manning. However, unlike Manning, Warner was not the established franchise quarterback at the time of his benching in the middle of 2004; Manning had been drafted to supplant the former Super Bowl MVP and did so. Eli in 2017, meanwhile, is being benched for Geno Smith, a former Jets quarterback who will not be the franchise quarterback going forward, and Davis Webb, an unproven rookie with zero career snaps.

Still, Warner suggested that Manning should also be open to sticking with the floundering franchise, even if it might be uncomfortable if coach Ben McAdoo and general manager Jerry Reese return in 2018.

"I think you always have to keep an open mind even if it's the same regime," Warner said. "If the same regime is there, it's going to be hard after they came to you and said, 'We're not playing you because we basically want to look at what we have for the future' and then they decide to go back to you or the comments like 'It's not over here.' That's confusing to me.

"Eli is a man of character and he will do the right thing in every scenario whether it's now as the backup and helping those young guys, whether it's next year and they come back to him and say we want you to be the starter. He will do the right thing. but it's going to be hard for him to look these guys in the eye after they told him you're sitting on the bench."

The Jacksonville Jaguars, now led by Manning's former coach Tom Coughlin, were rumored to be a perfect landing spot for Manning during the trade deadline, as the Jags neared playoff contention and the Giants were falling off. That still remains a realistic possibility in the offseason. Manning is owed a bonus near the start of the league year in March, one month before the draft. A decision should be made on the QB's future by then. 

Perhaps, Manning can follow Warner's, or his older brother's, footsteps and reinvent himself as 37-year-old quarterback with another team.

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