Eli Manning’s Message to 2020 Grads: “Embrace Awkward”

After he finished speaking, the former Giant left his mouth hanging open, as he's wont to do

Eli Manning Graduation
Eli Manning reacts after a game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. (Michael Reaves/Getty)
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By Evan Bleier / May 21, 2020 10:34 am

Eli Manning, who has never seemed as comfortable in the spotlight as his older brother Peyton despite winning the same number of Super Bowls, delivered a virtual commencement speech to 2020 college grads who did not get to experience an on-site graduate ceremony amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Not known for being a smooth talker, Manning spoke for 11 minutes about his time in college, playing in the NFL and how to approach the future in uncertain times.

His main message: embrace the awkward.

“You see, I don’t mind being in awkward situations or doing things I don’t necessarily want to do,’’ Manning said. “Like becoming the Giants backup quarterback after winning two Super Bowls and walking away with the MVP. Embracing awkward is worth cultivating, because life, like this graduation, rarely goes as planned.”

Earlier this month, Manning said he will be taking a gap year before deciding what he does next after spending the last 16 years playing quarterback for the New York Giants.

“I know one thing: I don’t want to be an NFL coach,” Manning said. “I’ve seen what our coaches do and the hours they put in, and I enjoy being with my family and enjoy coaching some of their sports teams. I don’t know if I want to do announcing … yet. Or go into that field. I might want to stay more hands-on with either the Giants or some coaching with a high school team.”

Perhaps he’ll return to the hobby he learned from his mother and now sometime does with his wife: antiquing.

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