Eli Manning had a lot of teammates during his 16 seasons with the New York Giants, but which players were his favorite weapons?
Manning answered that question during a June 10 appearance on “Funky Friday,” a YouTube show hosted by free agent NFL quarterback Cam Newton.
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“If I put the ball on the 20-yard line, you have to go 80 yards to score with, let’s say, three minutes and 15 seconds left … you’re down by four, though,” Newton began. “Who are you rocking with?”
(Manning’s all-time Giants lineup discussion starts at the 16:25 mark of this video.)
Manning chose 11 personnel and selected the following former teammates:
- Outside Receiver No. 1: Plaxico Burress (2005-2008)
- Slot Receiver: Victor Cruz (2010-2016)
- Outside Receiver No. 2: Odell Beckham Jr. (2014-2018)
- Tight End: Kevin Boss (2007-2010)
- Running Back: Tiki Barber (2004-2006)
“That’s heavy,” Newton said of Manning’s dream wide receiver trio. “That’s venomous.”
No player caught more regular-season touchdown passes from Manning than Beckham (44), according to Pro-Football-Reference.com. Plaxico Burress ranks second on that list with 33. Victor Cruz (25) actually ranks fourth, one touchdown behind Hakeem Nicks (26).
Cruz still holds the franchise record for most receiving yards in a single season (1,536 in 2011), and Beckham is still tied for the most receiving touchdowns in a single season (13 in 2015).
Eli Says Tiki ‘Saved’ His Early NFL Career
Manning mentioned Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs when it came time to select an all-time running back, but he ultimately settled on Tiki Barber. Manning only played his first three NFL seasons with Barber, but those years were crucial to his development as a young quarterback.
“Tiki, he saved me early on in my career,” Manning said, “and probably made me look better than I was at certain times in certain games. He was a heck of a running back.”
Barber was already 29 years old when the Giants drafted Manning, but he enjoyed his most productive seasons at the end of his career. Barber led the NFL in yards from scrimmage in both 2004 and 2005, while also making the Pro Bowl in each of his three seasons as Manning’s teammate (2004-06).
A lot of Giants fans perceive Manning and Barber as adversaries due to the public war of words they had in 2007, after Barber’s retirement. Manning’s selection of Barber for his dream team may be a sign that time (and a couple of Super Bowl rings) has healed those wounds.
Cam Was Shocked by Eli’s Tight End Selection
That was Newton’s reaction when Manning told him that his all-time Giants tight end selection would be Kevin Boss. This isn’t a stunning pick for a Giants fan to hear, but it makes sense why a non-Giants fan like Newton wasn’t expecting to hear Boss’ name. Boss never made a Pro Bowl and wasn’t an extremely productive pass-catcher.
Boss’ signature moment was a 45-yard catch-and-run in the fourth quarter of the 2008 Super Bowl. That play set up New York’s first touchdown of the game (and gave the Giants a 10-7 lead), so it’s really no wonder Manning picked Boss.
Manning did mention Jeremy Shockey, who also played with Newton in Carolina.
“Shockey was there for a little bit, but he was kind of all over the place,” Manning said.
Shockey (19) actually caught more career touchdown passes from Manning than Boss (18), but Boss had the clutch factor. The next closest tight ends after those two are Larry Donnell and Evan Engram with nine touchdown catches each from Manning.