In the New York Giants’ offensive huddle, quarterback Eli Manning is the leader, the signal-caller and the brains of the operation that sets up the calls, makes the reads and tries to put his teammates in a position to be successful with the ball in their hands.
Around the community, he’s become the face of the franchise, his image emblazoned on billboards and on television commercials promoting his various product and marketing endorsements.
But away from the Quest Diagnostics Training Center, the Giants’ team facility, Manning is known as “daddy” to two adorable little girls, Ava, three years old, and Lucy, one.
Manning dropped by a midtown Manhattan art gallery with his wife, Abby, and with Ava (Lucy was left behind with a baby sitter) and about 40 parents with children to help celebrate an early Father’s Day event, "The Power of Dad," as part of a campaign sponsored by Oral-B and the March of Dimes.
He spoke about the joys and challenges of balancing fatherhood with the demands of his high-profile position as quarterback of the Giants.
"When I’m at the Giants facility, I’m focused on learning this offense, practicing, getting better and being with my teammates. I stay after practice a little bit longer and get my preparation because I know once I get home, I know that if my kids are awake, there’s no sitting around and doing studying.
"It’s all being outside and playing with them and then once they go to bed, I’m still doing a lot of preparation at night and getting ready for that next practice so it all feels like I’m in season right now with getting prepared for each practice."
This year in particular has been challenging for Manning, who, like the rest of the Giants’ offensive players, has been busy trying to learn new offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo’s system—a process that Giants head coach Tom Coughlin told the media during Thursday’s OTA No. 9 has been “slow.”
Manning noted that the players are really putting their noses deep into the playbook and showing a sense of urgency when it comes to learning McAdoo’s system.
Besides there being new personnel packages, one of the biggest transitions for the players has been learning the new language and the calls.
“I think there’s definitely more of an urgency this time of year as opposed to other years because there’s a lot of thinking involved and you’re learning so much from every practice,” Manning said.
“In each practice you’re going to learn something new, and not just one thing; you’re going to learn several different things about play, protection [and] what a guy can do.
“There’s a lot of communicating going on, so sometimes just over communicating to make sure everyone is on the same page because this is the first time we’re doing it against a defense. We’re figuring things out and trying to learn on the run. We’ve gotten better, but there’s definitely an urgency and a lot of work, and guys are taking it very seriously.”
Manning, who was four years old when his father Archie retired from the NFL, laughed when asked if he has tried to sneak in sections from the Giants playbook in between the fairy tales and other popular children's bedtime stories that he routinely reads to his daughters before they go to sleep.
“No, I’ll read them regular bed time stories,” he said. “It’s just like anything—you have to manage your time and understand what your commitments are and how much time you’ll need to devote to each and you get enough time to do your job well and be a good father.”
With the Giants set to hold their three-day mandatory minicamp next week, Manning said he’s going to enjoy a low-key Father’s Day with his young family before heading right back to work on the playbook.
“I looked at the weather and it’s supposed to be nice, so we’ll spend it outside during the day, go to lunch and just spend it with my family,” he said.