The New York Giants standouts will suit up on the same side for the 2016 Pro Bowl after Beckham, one of the game’s captains, made sure his team drafted Manning first overall.
But while Manning and Beckham’s offensive exploits have been well documented throughout the past two seasons (someone had to throw the pass for Beckham to make “the catch), there’s actually much more to this pair’s relationship than their NFL-documented tandem.
In fact, these two have known each other for years and have been part of each other’s supports system for just as long. Read on for everything you need to know about the Manning-Beckham dynamic.
1. Manning Said He Told Beckham to Draft Him in the Pro Bowl
Eli Manning, who replaced Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger in this year’s NFL Pro Bowl, had just one request when he discovered that Giants teammate Odell Beckham Jr. would be one of the game’s captains. The veteran QB told multiple media outlets earlier this week:
I told Odell, I said ‘Odell hey, I know you’re captain, don’t feel any pressure to draft me. But if you don’t draft me, don’t expect to catch any balls next year. No pressure at all.’ I left it at that, and I think he’ll make an educated decision at the draft.
While Manning was certainly joking, Beckham stepped up to the metaphorical drafting plate and made sure that his quarterback was part of his Pro Bowl team this year.
2. Manning Defended Beckham in the Wake of His One-Game Suspension This Season
While there were plenty of opinions regarding Beckham’s on-field antics with Carolina Panthers cornerback Josh Norman earlier this season, which resulted in a fine and one-game suspension, Manning remained one of his wideout’s biggest supporters throughout the entire ordeal.
In fact, Manning made one of his more emotional statements of his career while defending Bekcham, saying:
He (Norman) just cried a little bit so I didn’t think that was really necessary. I think both those guys were going at it. I don’t think either one was in the right, but I didn’t think one was worse than the other.
Manning also praised Beckham for not responding to the suggestion that he had been the subject of anit-gay slurs on the sidelines prior to the Panthers game. Beckham’s only reaction after the game was a social media post apologizing for his behavior and thanking fans and teammates for their support.
I think Norman came out and made his comments, which I think Odell took the higher road so I am proud of him on that aspect,” Manning said.
3. Beckham Broke Cooper Manning’s Receiving Record at Newman High School
Just like his quarterback, Beckham also attended Newman High School and the pair took some time to reminisce about their early days when they first became Giants teammates. Beckham discussed the chance to reconnect, telling Giants.com:
One day, thinking that maybe I’ll get to play with one of the Mannings, and now here I am, it’s pretty surreal. (Eli) messes with me all the time calling me a ‘Greenie’ (Newman’s nickname) and stuff like that, how it’s great to have another ‘Greenie’ on board, so I always joke with him about it.
But Beckham and Manning’s mutual history goes far beyond the same high school. In fact, Beckham is in the same breath as Manning’s older brother Cooper when it comes to high school records.
The future New York star and Cooper Manning are the only players in Newman history to break the 1,000-yard receiving mark in a season. Beckham ranks No. 1 in program history in receiving yards, while the middle Manning brother sat at No. 2.
4. Beckham Also Attended the Manning Passing Academy
Shortly after he was drafted in the first round by the New York Giants, Beckham started working on the team’s offensive schemes with Manning and even made an appearance his family’s annual passing academy in Louisiana.
The Academy, which hosts more than a 1,000 high school football players at Nicholls University every year, was the first time the quarterback and wideout ran plays together and the first time Beckham was able to showcase his speed to his brand-new quarterback.
“Good to get some one-on-one time here,” Manning told the New York Daily News at the time.
It worked out well as Beckham went on to have one of the most prolific rookie careers of any wide receiver in NFL history.
5. The Pair Teamed Up for 13 Touchdowns This Season
Beckham had one of the most statistically impressive rookie seasons in NFL history, hauling in 12 touchdown passes and racking up 1,305 receiving yards in 2014-15. Then, this season, he and Manning were even better.
In 15 games on the field together, Manning and Beckham connected on 96 receptions for 1,450 yards and 13 touchdowns. Beckham caught 19 passes of 20 or more yard and eight for 40-plus yards. Sixty seven of his receptions went for first downs.
In other words, the Manning to Beckham play call is usually going to mean good things for the New York Giants offense.