EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Being benched after nearly 14 seasons and 210 consecutive starts was bad enough for Eli Manning. On Wednesday, Ben McAdoo found a way to make things even worse.
One day after officially demoting his franchise quarterback, the second-year head coach had Manning out at practice taking snaps with the scout team. He didn't do it for the whole practice. In fact, he split reps with third-string quarterback Davis Webb.
Still, that's an indignity McAdoo could have easily avoided by letting Webb take all the scout team snaps, or even by adding a quarterback to the practice squad to do it instead.
Lucky for him and the Giants, Manning apparently handled it with his usual grace and class.
"It was weird - definitely weird," said offensive lineman Justin Pugh. "I know he handled himself like a true professional. I wouldn't expect anything else from Eli."
"It was pretty strange," added receiver Sterling Shepard. "But he embraced the role of being on the scout team, throwing dimes against the defense. He's handled it as best as a person can."
From what his teammates could tell, Manning definitely rose above the mess created by the Giants organization and McAdoo when they bungled their decision to bench him, both privately and publicly earlier this week. Manning was very upset by the decision and is uncertain about his future, according to several people familiar with his thinking.
All his teammates saw, though, was a quarterback going back to work. Former Giants offensive lineman David Diehl said on SiriusXM Radio on Wednesday morning that when he went into the team cafeteria he saw Manning sitting alone talking with his possible replacement, Davis Webb. And Pugh said Manning talked to some of the veteran offensive linemen and asked for any advice they had on how to help Webb and Geno Smith out.
"He was Eli Manning," Pugh said. "He was so unwavering. Obviously there was emotion yesterday. No human being could not be emotional after 14 years. Today, he was back out there being a true professional. That just shows the character he has."