EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (WFAN/AP) – With the exception of a Super Bowl ring ceremony and a trip to White House, Eli Manning has put his second championship season behind him.
It ended Monday when Manning and teammates showed up for voluntary offseason workouts.
It’s back to football.
But another title doesn’t mean Manning shouldn’t be watching his back. General manager Jerry Reese joked if the prize of the NFL draft drops the the bottom of Round 1, the Giants would be all over him.
“If Andrew Luck is there at 32, he will be a Giant,” Reese said of the star quarterback, reportedly to be picked first overall by the Indianapolis Colts. “Without a doubt. If Andrew Luck’s down there, you think we wouldn’t pick him?”
Meanwhile, for the two-time Super Bowl MVP, this spring means looking for a third receiver to replace Mario Manningham, finding a backup running back to replace Brandon Jacobs and thinking about his right tackle, where the job is open with Kareem McKenzie on the free agent market.
It’s preparation 101, which is exactly the way Manning is approaching his upcoming appearance May 5 as the host for “Saturday Night Live.”
In typical Manning fashion, he asked the network for a game plan before agreeing to become the latest sports celebrity to do the show.
In a wide-ranging locker room interview on Thursday, Manning said he served as a sounding board for his brother, Peyton, during his free agency, laid low the past two months to rest after a long 2011 season and his goal now is simply to get himself ready for a season in which the Giants will be hunted as the league’s defending champions.
“The motivation is always trying to improve, always trying to get better, to become a better player,” Manning said. “Sometimes you can’t worry about winning a championship the next year. You know how difficult that is. You know a lot things have to happen, but you can’t always control that. You can control making sure you are doing everything you can to be prepared, getting your workouts and being in shape doing everything you can to try to stay healthy and help your teammates be mentally ready for the season.
“Right now, we are working hard and getting prepared.”
Manning will spent the next two weeks getting ready for 2012, and then he will start preparations for “SNL,” a show that has been hosted by a slew of great athletes, including his brother, Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter, Olympian Michael Phelps, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and NBA superstar LeBron James.
“I am looking forward to it, it will be fun,” said Manning, who has no acting experience. “It will be a new experience for me. Right now, I am more anxious than anything to get a feel of what I might be doing. It might be doing something a little bit out of my character or uncomfortable, but I am looking forward to just working hard that week, and having a lot of laughs and being prepared.”
Manning has been a fan of the show and watches it when he gets a chance. He knows a few members of the cast, but refused to say who was his favorite.
“I don’t want to be picking favorites right now,” Manning said. “It’s kind of like asking who is your favorite receiver. You can get in trouble answering those questions. Whoever can write the funniest script will be my favorite afterward.”
Eli said he would talk to Peyton about being the host for the show.
“Before I made a decision to do this I asked for a complete schedule of what’s the most I could possibly do,” Manning said. “What is the most they have asked anyone to do? They sent that over and I looked at it and saw I would not miss a workout, or any meetings or team activities here. That is always what my first priority is, that I am here with the players and my teammates.
“And then afterward, I can get into the city and do my preparation there.”
Manning even quipped he would be willing to watch videotapes to see what other athletes have done on the show.
“I haven’t watched much film on them,” Manning said. “Maybe when I get there, I’ll have some cutups or some highlight reel I can look at.”
Manning talked to Peyton about the show, and he advised his brother when he was making his decision on free agency, eventually picking Denver.
“I talked to him definitely,” he said. “We’re brothers. I talked to him about some of the places, or coaches or things I knew about certain offenses and what not. We had several discussions with him. It’s good for him to have someone to talk to and to bounce some ideas off to see if he is thinking correctly.
“I am just happy he will be in uniform next year.”
The one topic Eli Manning was reluctant to discuss was Tim Tebow, who was acquired by the Jets. When asked if he was intrigued to see how things worked out, he sidestepped the question.
“Obviously being in the same city you see what is going on and you hear things,” he said. “But it obviously is not a big concern for me.”
NOTES: WR Victor Cruz wants a new contract but he has no intention of skipping the voluntary workouts to force a deal. Reese said a new contact for Cruz is one of the many things on his plate. … CB Prince Amukamara, the team’s first-round draft pick last season, had a second procedure done in the offseason on the left foot that he broke in training camp. Stem cells from his hip were injected into his foot to promote healing. … OT Will Beatty said the detached retina that sidelined him after 10 games last season has healed. He expects to return to left tackle, which is where David Diehl finished the season. Diehl or Beatty will probably end up as the tackles, but it’s uncertain who will play where.
So Manning is working to improve his game. Would you expect anything less from the Super Bowl star? Sound off below…
(TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)