Eli Manning received an unexpected phone call on Friday, five days after he officially wrapped up his 16th NFL season. On the other end of the phone call was Cherry Starr, the wife of late NFL legend Bart Starr, to inform Manning that he was this year’s recipient of the Bart Starr Award, an award that is given annually to the NFL player “who best exemplifies outstanding character and leadership in the home, on the field and in the community.”
Starr, who led the Packers to five NFL championships in the 1960s that included wins in Super Bowls I and II, was revered nearly as much for his charitable acts as he was for his exploits on the gridiron.
“It really is an honor to win this award,” Manning said of the honor, via Joseph Staszewski of the New York Post. “I know Peyton won it, and I know so many other great NFL players have won it. It’s something I will cherish forever.”
Manning, who was voted by his peers as this year’s Bart Starr Award recipient, will receive the award during an honorary breakfast on Feb. 1, the day before Super Bowl LIV. Manning has been involved in various charitable works throughout his career. In 2009, he and his wife Abby opened the “Eli Manning’s Children’s Clinics” in Mississippi. For the past 13 years, Manning has worked with “Guiding Eyes for the Blind,” an organization that provides dogs to people who are blind or visually impaired at no cost. Manning has become a regular participant at the organization’s annual golf classic.
A two-time Super Bowl MVP, Manning has likely played his last snap with the Giants after losing his starting job to Daniel Jones just two games into the 2019 season. Manning did return to the starting lineup late in the year following an injury to Jones, throwing two touchdown passes in New York’s Week 15 victory over Miami.
While his time in the Big Apple appears to be over, the 38-year-old Manning has not ruled out playing for a new team in 2020. Manningthat he hopes to make a decision on his NFL future sooner rather than later. If he decides to hang it up, Manning would finish seventh all-time in career passing yards and touchdown passes. His 222 consecutive starts from 2004-17 is the third longest streak in NFL history.