Hall of Famer Kurt Warner empathizes how difficult it is for the Giants' Eli Manning to be an aging quarterback who is likely to spend what could be his final seasons grooming a team's franchise quarterback of the future.
"The part about mentoring someone, that part is easy," Warner said, according to the New York Daily News' Gary Myers. "It's easy to take a young kid and share with him whatever you possibly can and to make him the best player possible. The hard part is when you feel like you're the better quarterback and you're not on the field. You don't take that out on the other guy, but that's a tough sell."
The 37-year-old Manning has been the Giants' franchise quarterback since taking over in 2004, but New York may be in a position to draft his heir with the No. 2 pick in the NFL Draft this spring. The Giants also drafted Davis Webb, who some believe could be the team's quarterback of the future, in the third round last year.
That leaves Manning, the two-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback who has started 214 of the Giants' last 215 games, nearing the end of his time as franchise quarterback, a feeling with which Warner resonates.
"For me in 2004, I knew I wasn't done yet," said Warner, who was replaced by Marc Bulger with the St. Louis Rams. "So, as far as going through that situation with Eli, I understood going in what I was getting into. I knew my mindset wasn't, 'I am going to be the Giants starter for the long term,' and then all of a sudden a young kid gets thrown in there and I'm thinking, 'Oh my gosh, is this my future?'"
Warner had a one-year stint with the Giants to bridge the gap between Kerry Collins and Manning, and afterward he played five seasons with the Arizona Cardinals, leading to Super Bowl XLIII in his penultimate season in the league.
Manning is older than Warner was when he paved way to Bulger, who played 96 games with the Rams, and Warner said it is up to Manning to decide how much longer he can play at a consistent level before someone else takes over.
"The other part is how much longer does Eli think he can play?" Warner said. "How does he look at this situation? OK, this is my last hurrah, and now I'm finding myself on the bench and I just want to get through this year and retire? Or does he see himself as a guy who can still play? What does Eli see for the future? I have to believe he wants to be a Giant for life. But what's he willing to do to be a Giant for life? You want to be a Giant for life, but you know if you do that, there is a possibility of the other guy getting out there. Now what do you do?"