"You take it year by year," Manning tells nola.com's Rod Walker in a must-read feature for Eli fans and critics alike. "I've been blessed going into my 16th year. That's been a blessing in itself. I love what I'm doing. I love the work that goes into it. You never know when it's going to be your last year or when it's going to be the end for you, so you try to take advantage of the years you're here and enjoy every moment."
Fifteen NFL seasons, four Pro Bowls and two Super Bowls into a career that some believe will conclude in Canton and others believe has outstayed its welcome, Manning explains that he still feels young when it comes to playing and is in no hurry to hang up his cleats.
The Giants selected Duke quarterback Daniel Jones in the 2019 NFL Draft. Having drawn plenty of comparisons to Manning, Jones is in place to succeed Manning -- perhaps sooner than later. But it is Jones and his 2019 class of rookies, just as those before them, that apparently inspires Manning to stay forever young under center but reminds him of his age when practices and games conclude.
"In the locker room, I feel their age," Manning said. "At 8 o'clock at night, I don't feel their age. I'm ready to go to bed and they are just getting started rocking and rolling. I can't hang and do everything they can do off the field. But on the field, I still feel like I can still run with them and they keep me young."
As has often been the tale told by former players, it is the camaraderie that Manning knows he will miss. Older brother Peyton, one of the greatest the game has ever seen, has imparted that wisdom upon him. Hence, there's yet another reason Manning finds no reason to speed into the aftermath of his playing days.
"I'm not rushing into retirement, and Peyton's not telling me to rush into it," the Giants QB said. "I still love being around the guys and the teammates and playing this game. I'm going to play it for as long as I think I can hang with these guys."
For the Big Blue faithful that is only concerned with moving the franchise forward and getting back to its winning ways, that's also Manning's priority and what drives him more than anything else. Not to mention his 66 completion percentage in 2018 was the best in his career and his 4,299 yards were his highest since his last Pro Bowl appearance in 2015.
"It's such a great feeling in that locker room when you win games," he said. "You want everybody to experience that. You want those guys who haven't won a championship to get that feeling also. That means so much to your family and everybody who has been a part of your football career, from your high school coaches to your college coaches. When you win a championship, everybody wins."