The Giants announced Tuesday that Eli Manning would not be starting for the team in Week 13, instead turning the reigns over the Geno Smith. With Smith starting under center, the Giants are starting the franchise’s first black quarterback and becoming the final team in the NFL to do so.
Smith getting the nod now means that all 32 teams in the NFL will have started a black quarterback in at least one game. The Giants were the last remaining team after the Patriots started Jacoby Brissett in 2016.
Manning was initially offered to get a ceremonial start in Week 13 before being pulled for Smith but declined the offer — feeling it would tarnish his streak with the team by artificially lengthening it, rather than letting it end.
“My feeling is that if you are going to play the other guys, play them,” Manning said. “Starting just to keep the streak going and knowing you won’t finish the game and have a chance to win it is pointless to me, and it tarnishes the streak.
Smith has not started a game since 2016 with the Jets, where he was the team’s second-round pick in the 2013 NFL draft. He had a series of ups and downs, languishing in largely mediocre Jets’ offenses before being benched and leaving at the end of his rookie deal.
Starting Smith is a significant step for both the Giants and the NFL. Here’s the complete list of the first black starting quarterback for each team in the league.
First black starting QB for every NFL team