It is altogether fitting there will be at least six offensive linemen on the field with Eli Manning — more than any other position group — Sunday afternoon, when he gets inducted into the Giants’ Ring of Honor and has his No. 10 jersey retired by the franchise.
Of all the hundreds of players to share a locker room and the field with Manning, none were closer to him than the big guys. It was the offensive linemen who rallied around Manning, made fun of him, were the brunt of his practical jokes (and him of theirs) and above all felt protective of him more than any other teammates.
“I got to go support my brother,’’ former Giants guard Chris Snee told The Post.
Snee shared the first decade of Manning’s career with him. As the reverberations of the mega-trade with the Chargers on draft day in 2004 were still shaking, the Giants with their next pick, in the second round, quietly selected Snee out of Boston College. Snee started right away as a rookie, Manning did not, and the two forged a friendship that continues strongly, to this day.
Chris Snee and Eli Manning in 2012
“Eli and I came in together, and we’ve been through many battles together,’’ Snee said. “I want to be there for him on his special day. It’s an accomplishment for him, but we all take pride in that as well. It’s the ultimate team sport, and that bond that we had, those lineman, that team we had with Eli was the strongest bond I’ve ever been a part of on any team.’’
Manning, during his playing days, would often invite teammates and their families to his house after games — win or lose — to unwind and relax. While no other Giants player will ever don No. 10 again, Manning understands this singular honor was not achieved in singular fashion.
“Even though it is my number, I think it is kind of a celebration of all the teammates and the people who I threw touchdowns to and who blocked for me and the defensive guys who helped us get wins,’’ Manning said.
In addition to Snee, former linemen Rich Seubert, Shaun O’Hara, Kareem McKenzie, David Diehl and Kevin Boothe are expected to attend the game. This group viewed Manning’s streak of consecutive games started (it reached 210 games) as their own badge of honor.
Manning recalled his offensive lines “didn’t want to be part of the group that got Eli hit or injured to miss a game. The games where I was banged up and I had an injury, I think those next weeks they blocked even harder to say, ‘Hey, we’ve got to keep him healthy, and we don’t want to make this worse.’ ’’
Manning, on The Post’s Blue Rush podcast, said in 2007 he needed several doses of the pain-reliever Toradol to play in Week 2 after separating his right shoulder in the season opener, a loss at Dallas. In Week 4 in 2009, Manning completely tore the plantar fascia in his right foot during a victory in Kansas City. That was his 82nd straight start.
“He got hurt, and then we played the Raiders,’’ Snee said. “He needed to get pulled quickly because we knew what kind of pain he was in, and it just happened that we ran up the score early, and he was out by the middle of the third quarter. It was a perfect recipe.’’
The Giants had Manning’s back that day, thrashing the Raiders 44-7.
“We definitely knew what he was dealing with at times, even if perhaps [the media] didn’t,’’ Snee said. “I know how much pride he took in being the quarterback of the Giants and how much effort and preparation that took. I respected him for that while I was playing and still do to this day.’’Internet Explorer Channel Network