EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - For just a moment on Tuesday it sounded like Eli Manning was serious, like he really was bothered by the sight of his receivers, shirtless, on a party boat in Miami during their off day, six days before the start of the playoffs.
But that's not Manning's style. Dry humor is more his thing.
"I think as a team we always pride ourselves on being well-prepared, so when I saw some of those pictures I was a little disappointed," Manning began. "Because obviously they didn't pack accordingly. They didn't have any shirts. All long pants. No shorts. No flip flops or anything. So I'm just disappointed in the packing and not being prepared for that situation."
That was the perfect hilarious response to the silly furor over the now-infamous photo of Giants receiver Odell Beckham, Victor Cruz, Sterling Shepard and Roger Lewis sitting shirtless (but in long pants) on that boat in Miami, hours after the Giants wrapped up their regular season with a win in Washington. There's also a video that shows they were also out partying overnight with singer Trey Songz and Justin Bieber.
So what? Well, yeah, that was exactly Manning's point
"I think what guys do on their off day is not a big deal," Manning said. "I saw it. I just kind of laughed. I knew I'd have to answer questions about it. I knew it would be a story. That's all I thought about it."
As Ben McAdoo said on Monday, it was an off day for the players and they were free to do whatever they wanted, wherever they wanted. It is far from unusual for players to travel on their one day off each week during the regular season. Several players over the last few years travelled to their homes almost every Tuesday during the Tom Coughlin era. The only thing that mattered to their coach is that they were back on time for practice the next day.
And by the way, all four receivers were back at the Giants' facility on Tuesday, ready to prepare for their playoff opener on Sunday in Green Bay.
"It was an off day. They had the luxury of going to another state to enjoy it, to celebrate it. There's no one saying (players) cannot travel anywhere," said linebacker Jonathan Casillas. "I'm pretty sure there were other people up the same time, just in another state. It just sucks that ... I mean, those guys get so much attention for, I guess, negative things. I don't see nothing wrong with it. They didn't break any rules."
"Look, it's the NFL. We're grown men out here. Relax," added running back Rashad Jennings. "Everything's different if somebody doesn't show up for work. They were bright-eyed, ready to go, having fun. Perfect."
Of course, off-day trips like that aren't for everyone. Casillas said "I wouldn't do it. But everybody's different."
But then Casillas reconsidered. "If I got an invite, maybe," Casillas added. "I didn't know about it. But I like Justin Bieber."
"I haven't had any of those, but hey, everyone's different," Manning said. "On my off day I'm usually always in here getting prepared, meeting with the coaches, talking with the coaches a little bit about the schemes and different things we can do. That's kind of what a quarterback has to do.
"Some guys want to get away for a day. I think they were a little low on the Vitamin D, so they were getting some sunshine, get the Vitamin D up and make sure you're staying healthy for the cold weather in Green Bay."
Thanks to the internet, though, it feels like Manning was there. There were plenty of memes that photoshopped him - mostly shirtless - right into the middle of the picture. Asked if he had seen any of them, Manning said "No. I was telling people I was the one that took the picture. They wouldn't let me in with my shirt off.