When Archie Manning comes to the Meadowlands on Sunday to watch his son play, he knows it might be one of the final times he sees Eli at quarterback for the Giants.
Or maybe not.
The patriarch of the Manning family insisted that his youngest son has not decided anything about his future in the wake of his shocking benching by the Giants and ex-coach Ben McAdoo last week. Archie said Eli was hurt by the decision, but not angry at the coaches or the organization.
And after speaking with Eli, Archie believes his son is open to all options in 2018.
"I think Eli will look at everything," Archie said, after a press conference to announce one of his other sons, Peyton, was being inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. "I know this -- and I briefly visited with him -- he doesn't have some dead-set plan for next year. You can't. There's too many unknown things out there, so why make a plan right now when there's so many decisions to be made?
"Just finish, do your job, and everything will shake out."
Things have certainly been shaken up for the Mannings over the last week, since the Giants sent out a press release last Tuesday announcing Eli Manning was being benched for Geno Smith. When he stood on the sidelines watching the Giants play in Oakland on Sunday, it marked the end of his streak of 210 straight games as a starter dating back to 2004.
One day after that, the Giants fired McAdoo and GM Jerry Reese. Manning then spoke with interim coach Steve Spagnuolo and told him he wanted his starting job back -- something team sources told SNY is expected to happen this Sunday when the Giants play host to the Dallas Cowboys.
His future beyond this year is still uncertain, though, even though Eli Manning is signed through the 2019 season. He'll be 37 next month and the Giants are a near-lock to have a Top 3 pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, where they'll likely take a quarterback to be Manning's eventual replacement.
That could make a return by Manning next season a little tough.
"I don't think he has formed any opinion about next year," Archie said. "Eli was just a little heartbroken, but he wasn't mad at anybody. He certainly wasn't making any plans for next year. You can't do that. You've got games left. Everything will shake out."
Would Eli be willing, though, to serve as a mentor to a young quarterback he knew would be replacing him sooner than later?
"I can't speak for him but I know Eli loves New York," Archie said. "I know he loves playing for the Giants. He knows he's (about to be) 37. He knows what his ability is, what he thinks it is. There's just no sense forming some dead solid plan for next year when he doesn't know what's going to be out there."
Peyton Manning declined to field any questions about Eli and his situation, though he did say he had dinner with him on Monday night, not long after McAdoo and Reese were fired. Peyton, of course, was once ushered out of Indianapolis for a younger quarterback in Andrew Luck -- though Peyton was recovering from multiple neck surgeries at the time.
He of course went on to finish his career in Denver, capping it with his second championship in Super Bowl 50.
It's not clear what advice Peyton had for his little brother. But Archie did reveal what he told his youngest son during what was a very "emotional" week.
"I just told him, 'Hey, it's football. It's life. It's not the end of the world. Just hang in. Be classy,'" Archie said. "I think he did. It was kind of an unusual week, but he handled it and we're proud of Eli."