The Eli Manning era with the New York Giants may be coming to an end.
And if it is, it is ending ugly.
The Giants announced Tuesday that the two-time Super Bowl MVP was being benched for the first time in more than 13 years so they could evaluate the other quarterbacks on the roster over the final month of a lost-and-injury-filled season.
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The decision to sit the 36-year-old Manning was totally unexpected, especially with five games left in the regular season.
Coach Ben McAdoo says Geno Smith will start in place of Manning. Rookie Davis Webb will also take snaps for the 2-9 Giants, he said.
Manning, with 210 consecutive regular-season starts, has the second-longest streak of a quarterback in NFL history, behind Hall of Famer Brett Favre's 297.
He's started every Giants game since taking over for Kurt Warner Nov. 21, 2004, and has also started 12 postseason games. He twice led the Giants to Super Bowl victories.
Given the option of starting against the Raiders to keep the streak alive, Manning declined, saying, "My feeling is that if you are going to play the other guys, play them. Starting just to keep the streak going and knowing you won’t finish the game and have a chance to win it is pointless to me, and it tarnishes the streak. Like I always have, I will be ready to play if and when I am needed. I will help Geno and Davis prepare to play as well as they possibly can."
Manning expressed his unhappiness but once again he played the good soldier, voicing his support for veteran Geno Smith, who will start against Oakland on Sunday.
His emotional pain was all over his face. His eyes welled with tears talking to reporters. His chin quivered when asked about how much this hurt. His face got red the more he talked.
Manning's voice broke when asked how this one hurt, noting it was one of his hardest days as a Giant.
"It's been a hard day to handle this, but (I'll) hang in there and figure it out," he said.
McAdoo said he made the decision to start Smith over the weekend, and co-owner John Mara and general manager Jerry Reese were in agreement.
"This is not a statement about anything other than we are 2-9, and we have to do what is best for the organization moving forward, and that means evaluating every position," Reese said in a statement.
"I told Eli this morning that an organization could not ask for anymore in a franchise quarterback. He has been that and more. Nobody knows what the future holds, but right now, this is what we think is best for the franchise."
McAdoo, the second-year head coach, said the organization needed to learn more about Smith and rookie third-round draft pick Davis Webb in the final weeks of the season. Smith took four snaps in a blowout loss to the Rams. Webb has not played.
McAdoo refused to say if this was the end of the Manning era.
"I have a lot of confidence in Eli as a player, as a quarterback," McAdoo said. "But at this point, it's my responsibility for the organization to make sure we take a look at Geno and at some point take a look at Davis and give them the opportunity to show what they can do."
Manning and Smith were told about the decision on Tuesday, and later the team was filled in.
McAdoo also plans to give Webb an opportunity, but probably not this week. Manning, who recently passed the 50,000-yard mark, will be the backup.
Webb called Manning the best teammate he has ever had.
"If you had a Mount Rushmore of not only New York Giants, but New York athletes, he'd be on it," Webb said.
Manning holds almost all of the franchise's major passing records. This season, he has thrown 14 touchdown passes and seven interceptions. He will turn 37 on Jan. 3.