Well, we knew this was coming. We didn’t know if it would take this long, which has been both a blessing and a curse, but the day has finally come. After 15 years, some good, some difficult, we must say goodbye to one of the most important people in our lives. Eli Manning.
Coming to grips with the concept of losing something, or someone, you love forever is never easy. Yeah, we had some goldfish named Kerry Collins and Kurt Warner before this that we had to flush, but you can’t really form a bond with something like that.
We got Eli in 2004, a southern purebred from the swamps of of Louisiana, after he rejected his “forever home” in San Diego, California.
He was a quiet pup, which worried us a little bit, because he was coming into a city known for big dogs.
We had an aggressive Pit Bull, which was due to his ENVIRONMENT, not his NATURE.
A Mastiff who, like “The Beast” in The Sandlot, was a lot more bark thank bite.
A speedy hound who always lost his balls under the couch.
And the alpha of the pack who notoriously bullied other dogs.
And, once our new Eli got to play with the others he, like most puppies, was very clumsy.
Over the next few years we grew a little concerned. We knew he wanted to play, we knew he loved to play, but he just wasn’t getting it.
We began to wonder if maybe we got the wrong dog. I mean, afterall, the dog in San Diego was being a good boy over there, though he was a bit aggressive…
And Pittsburgh’s Big Benji already won Best In Show at Westminster.
Then came 2007. Our Eli was still clumsy,
Still looked a little slow,
But he went to 8 different dog parks that year and beat the other dogs in every single game.
And after beating dog after dog in the Wild Card, Divisional, and Conference Dog Shows, Eli went up against an absolute wolfpack of a defense,
A greyhound who could beat any dog at a racetrack,
And the most perfect, beautiful, German Shepherd the world had ever seen.
As they played and fought, neither rolled over to show their belly. And all of the sudden, out of nowhere, our clumsy doggo finally found his feet in the greatest moment of our lives.
And not soon after, we knew we found the perfect dog for our family.
From this point, we’d share some amazing years together. A great 2008 that fell short to those mutts in Philadelphia, 2009 and and 2010 were still kept hopeful due to 2007. But 2011 was what we all love dogs for, they never fail to surprise us.
Beating the Boston Terriers again was the happiest thing we could ever ask for. We had one of the greatest dogs we’d ever seen.
Winning this was genuinely surprising considering New England had an actual Golden Retriever on the field that day.
But that’s when things started to slow down for our already slow Eli.
All his big friends were too old to go the the park anymore.
And the new dogs in town just weren’t the same.
And he started getting scared, rolling on his back everytime he smelled another dog near him.
We found some good dogs to play with him, namely a Border Collie who loved catching anything.
But, admittedly, he wasn’t very well trained.
Or potty trained, for that matter.
The final straw was when we went away on vacation for a weekend and hired a dog sitter who came very highly recommended from our friends in Green Bay, Wisconsin.
It’s the last time we ever listened to them.
When we got back, we found our Eli chained to a bench on the sideline because he “wasn’t good enough.”
Needless to say, we fired this dog sitter immediately, but the damage was already done. Eli trusted us to find a good dog sitter after we got rid of his favorite one.
He always gave the best belly rubs.
And now, he was sad.
They say there is no cure for a broken heart.
In the last few years, the writing has been on the wall. Eli was going for shorter walks, eating less, sleeping more. He was getting old and tired. No change in diet or medicine hidden in his food could help.
We just had to give him the best life possible in the time we had left with him.
And that’s what these last few years have really been. Watching Eli Manning with a sad heart, knowing he wasn’t the young pup he used to be. Every Sunday we’d say “Wanna go to the park?” and his tail would wag a bit. But he could hear the sadness in our voice.
It was all just a charade to pretend everything was okay.
We simply try to remember those good times now. It’s all we can do. Every once in a while, we’ll see shades of old Eli as he confidently steps into a nice throw. But we crash back to earth during the next play where he purposefully throws the ball at the checkdown option’s feet to avoid getting hit.
Now, we do what most dog owners do. We get a new dog. In this case, the exact same breed,
as a way to deal with the heartbreak. And there may be some good times with our new pup. Maybe even some great ones.
But nothing can ever replace your old dog, and the memories you made with it.
I love Eli Manning, and always have. As fans and media have called for his head the last few years, I’ve been quick to blame the O-Line for every shortcoming. But now, I don’t even think the Cowboys line could make Eli perform the way he needs too.
Regardless, I will spend the rest of the day locked in my room, crying quietly so my roommates can’t hear, before pulling myself together and saying “Hey Buddy, wanna go for a walk?” as I watch Super Bowl highlights on Youtube for the rest of the day.
Eli, you will always be a Man(ning)’s best friend.