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Eli Manning: 'I'm not dying, and the season's not over'

A day after the New York Giants announced he'd been benched in favor of Daniel Jones, Eli Manning could have elected to avoid the media. But that's not Manning's way.

For going on 16 seasons, Manning has faced the fire of New York, through ups, downs, wins, losses, good times and dreadful. Come hell or high water, Manning never shrunk, never cowered, never shied away from answering questions.

And so it was, Wednesday, as his era of Big Blue football was effectively being put to rest, Manning stood at his locker surrounded by an overflowing frenzied pack of New York media parrying questions about his future.

"I knew there was a possibility," he said when asked about being benched in favor of Jones after just two weeks. "Just said, 'hey I'll handle it. And I'll support Daniel and I'll be a good teammate and do what I'm told.'"

No one could ever accuse Manning of not being a good teammate.

The 38-year-old quarterback said he didn't have a problem with how his benching was handled.

"I talked to (co-owner) John Mara yesterday. Everything's been good. It's as positive as it can be," he said.

Manning added that he would have still returned this season had he known he'd have been passed on the depth chart by Jones after just two games.

"Yeah. I think you give it a shot and worked hard and competed. Did everything I thought I could and it just didn't work out," he said. "...I didn't know how everything was going to shake out this year... You draft a young QB, yeah it's a possibility they'll play him when things don't go well. We didn't start fast and that's the situation we're in now."

Always the soldier, Manning took his benching in stride.

"When you're a football player you do what you're told. And this is what I've been told, and I'll handle it," he said matter-of-factly.

While a large segment of Big Blue Nation bemoans the end of Manning's run, which included two Super Bowl MVPs, the quarterback brushed aside any lamenting for his situation.

"Again, I'm not dying, and the season's not over," he said. "There's a lot to be positive about. A lot to be grateful for. So, I've just got to accept my new role and make the best out of it."

Quibble with the player Manning has been on the field the past half-decade all you want. There is zero questioning his status as a leader and consummate professional. Few could have handled the pressure and flames Manning faced in New York for 15-plus years with such aplomb and gracefulness.

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