Archie Manning has received an outpouring of support in the wake of his son Eli's benching by the New York Giants. One of the more profound notes came from an interesting source -- Tom Brady Sr., father of the quarterback who was beaten by Eli in the only two Super Bowls he's lost.
"He wrote me a beautiful message about what Eli has meant to the Giants and to the league," Manning told ESPN on Sunday. "His email summed up the way Eli has carried himself during all of his years with the Giants and how that type of thing is important in our league at a time when maybe some of those things are breaking down. It was very meaningful to us."
It's been a draining week for the Mannings, who were stunned by Tuesday's news that Eli's streak of 210 consecutive regular-season starts would end Sunday at Oakland when the Giants opened with Geno Smith at quarterback. ESPN's Chris Mortensen and Adam Schefter reported that the fallout could contribute to the firing of Giants coach Ben McAdoo as early as Monday.
Archie Manning said Eli was "just crushed" by the demotion and that his son "got more emotional with every call of support" in recent days from quarterbacks and coaches.
That Eli is a two-time Super Bowl MVP at the New England Patriots' expense, and the person most responsible for denying them a 19-0 season a decade ago, didn't stop Tom Brady's father from reaching out. Tom Sr. and Archie don't know each other well, but they've communicated some over the years as Manning's sons Peyton and Eli have faced off with the five-time champion in playoff games and Super Bowls.
"We really met just one time at the Super Bowl in San Francisco," Archie said, "where we finally sat down and had a cup of coffee together. ...Tom (Sr.) is a very nice man, a real gentleman. Peyton and Tom (Jr.) have had a special relationship. They don't go off and vacation together, but they've been together at different things through the years, and they have a lot of respect for each other."
Archie Manning also heard from Matthew Stafford's father, John, a longtime friend, and from dozens of members of the extended NFL family. "John and Tom (Sr.) can put themselves in my place," Manning said, "as a daddy going through the ups and downs of a son playing quarterback."
Archie Manning and his wife, Olivia, were in New York on Sunday preparing for Peyton's Tuesday night induction into the National Football Foundation College Hall of Fame. Archie and Olivia were planning on watching the Giants-Raiders game.
"And we will be pulling for Geno," he said.