Happy Birthday Eli Manning: Relive the former NFL Greats Best Moments

by Halle Ames

Eli Manning has plenty to celebrate throughout his 16-year career in the NFL. However, today we celebrate his life as the star turns 40-years-old. 

As part of the legendary NFL quarterback dynasty that is the Manning family, Eli has lived up to his last name.

Born on January 3, 1981, in New Orleans, to Archie and Olivia Manning, Eli followed in his father’s footsteps and attended (what I call the Harvard of the South) Ole Miss. His older brother, Peyton, however, went to a rival school at the University of Tennessee. 

While at Ole Miss, Manning set or tied nearly 45 records, including a college career of 10,119 passing yards, 81 touchdown passes, and a passer rating of 137.7. He won many awards, but his professional career took off when he was selected first overall in the 2004 draft. 

The selection by the Chargers wasn’t a smooth transition, however. Both Eli and his father Archie stated that the star quarterback would refuse to play for the 4-12 record San Diego Chargers. The reason was due to the team’s handling of former quarterback Ryan Leaf’s personal issues. 

Nonetheless, the Chargers drafted Manning but made a deal with the Giants to trade him for Philip Rivers and three draft picks. Manning signed with the Giants for a six-year $45 million contract. Manning went on to play for the team for 16 seasons. 

Eli Manning’s Best Plays

One of the best plays of Eli Manning’s career came during Super Bowl XLII. With a little over a minute left in the game and down by four points to the undefeated Patriots, Manning wiggled out of the grips of the defensemen to find David Tyree down the field. Tyree helped complete the beautiful play with a helmet catch that later secured the Super Bowl win. 

Peyton Manning agrees with us when we say this play is phenomenal. In an interview, the older brother said it was “arguably the greatest play in the history of football.”

Although there are plenty of memorable moments for the star, the other play we want to revisit is when Manning hucks a Hail Mary to the endzone during a 2011 playoff game against the Green Bay Packers. With seconds remaining in the second quarter, the Giants lead the Packers 13 to 10. This small lead proved to be a little too close for the Giants to head into the locker rooms with, so Eli Manning sails one into the endzone, where Hakeem Nicks leaps over two defensemen to secure the touchdown. 

Eli Manning went on to win two Super Bowls in his career, as well as two Super Bowl MVPs. The star also is a four-time Pro Bowler. In addition, both the Ole Miss Rebels and the New York Giants have retired number 10 in his honor.