NEW YORK (Reuters) - The New York Giants on Tuesday announced that twice Super Bowl champion Eli Manning would be benched in favor of rookie Daniel Jones, marking the latest casualty in an NFL season that has so far been unkind to the league’s veteran quarterbacks.
Future Hall of Famers Ben Roethlisberger of the Pittsburgh Steelers and Drew Brees of the New Orleans Saints each exited their weekend encounters with injuries, leaving three household QB names off the field heading into Week 3.
Twice Super Bowl champion Roethlisberger left 24-year-old third-round draft pick Mason Rudolph in command after suffering a season-ending elbow injury during the Steelers’ 28-26 loss to the Seattle Seahawks.
Brees left the game with the Los Angeles Rams, billed as a rematch of last season’s infamous NFC title game, with a thumb injury, which is expected to sideline the 40-year-old former Super Bowl champion for six weeks, according to media reports.
Adding to the pain, Carolina Panthers’ starting quarterback Cam Newton may have worsened an existing foot injury, according to numerous media reports, rendering him a doubt.
All have been stalwarts in a league where quarterback turnover has plagued many franchises. Manning and Roethlisberger made their debuts 15 years ago, Brees joined the Saints in 2006 and Newton was the Panthers’ first pick in the 2011 draft.
The Giants, who jettisoned Manning after a humiliating 28-14 loss to the Buffalo Bills, launched a charm offensive to appease any sceptical fans after announcing Jones’ call-up, promoting a highlight reel of the rookie’s pre-season performances.
But even for a fanbase that might be frustrated with Manning’s performances, the departure of a veteran starting QB — be it for a season or longer — can be tough to bear.
As news of Manning being benched trickled through social media, the hashtag #ThankYouEli began to trend on Twitter with praise of the 38-year-old who led the Giants to Super Bowl wins over Tom Brady’s New England Patriots in 2007 and 2011.
“To the only man to beat Tom Brady twice in the Super Bowl,” wrote Twitter user Ryan Stevens (@rjstev23). “#ThankYouEli”
Reporting by Amy Tennery; Editing by Ken Ferris