It was supposed to be a celebration of a playoff team, a love affair between the town and the team, ringing in the new year with a Super Bowl resolution.
It is forecast to be 21 degrees come 4 p.m. on New Year’s Eve, the merciful end of a season that cannot end soon enough for all New York Football Giants.
Especially Eli Manning.
If there is any reason for you to watch what is left of your Giants, who will have every chance to lose their franchise-record 14th game against the Redskins with as many interims as wins, it should be to sing “Auld Lang Syne” to Eli Manning and say goodbye.
No one knows, of course. Nothing is etched in stone.
But the icy winds of change are blowing, and it is impossible not to feel them.
No one knows what the next Giants GM and next Giants head coach will think of Josh Rosen and Sam Darnold. No one knows what they will think of Davis Webb, partly because the Giants somehow are finding a way not to play him in a season when what could go wrong has gone wrong, becoming Mara’s Law.
John Mara declaring that he wants Manning back is what you would expect a co-owner to say about a quarterback who has delivered two Super Bowl championships to New York.
But remember this: His father, Wellington, didn’t want Phil Simms to be a salary-cap victim in June 1994 and reluctantly deferred to George Young and Dan Reeves.
And his Hall of Fame father was in favor of keeping Kerry Collins as his quarterback and passing on one Eli Manning before he deferred to then-GM Ernie Accorsi in the 2004 draft.
More often than not, a new regime will trumpet out with the old, in with the new.
If the Giants hold onto the second pick in the draft — Just Lose, Baby — and the new GM is staring at Rosen or Darnold if both of them come out or if one (or both) power-plays his way out of Cleveland, he can either trade the pick for a bounty to fill the many holes on the roster or give the new head coach his Quarterback of the Future.
This has been the most trying season of Manning’s football life, with no Odell Beckham Jr. to take one to the house for him, with no one to keep him comfortable in the pocket or even upright. He will be throwing to people named Roger Lewis Jr. and Travis Rudolph and Hunter Sharp again on Sunday, and people named Jon Halapio and Bobby Hart will again be blocking for him.
Manning seemed buoyed by his 434-yard game against the Eagles, but wore a look of resignation after suffering his first shutout since 2014.
Over the last two seasons, he has endured the firings of his beloved Tom Coughlin and more recently Ben McAdoo, had his Ironman consecutive-game streak mindlessly pulled out from under him, and watched the roster crumble all around him. It has taken an emotional toll on him.
He can still make all the throws, he can still play, he is forever The Pride of the Giants.
As much as he loves being a Giant, he knows the history: Big Brother Peyton didn’t get to leave Indianapolis on his own terms when Andrew Luck was The Next Big Thing. Joe Montana didn’t get to leave the 49ers on his own terms, Joe Namath had to finish on one leg in Los Angeles.
If the Giants cut him — a cruel scenario given what The Greatest Quarterback In Giants History has meant to the franchise — they would have $12.4 million in dead money on their 2018 salary cap while freeing up $9.8 million in cap space. He has that no-trade clause, but I’m guessing he would waive it for Denver or Jacksonville if he feels forced to chase that third ring elsewhere. He is due a $5 million roster bonus on the third day of the 2018 league year during free agency.
If I were the GM — full disclosure, I’m a sentimental fool — I would keep him to play the Kurt Warner role that Kurt Warner played for him 14 seasons ago and try to make one last run. Even if the Giants draft Rosen or Darnold. And if you love one of them, you draft him. Unfortunately, I’m not the GM, and I won’t be interviewing for the job.
Someone will want Manning.
But just in case it won’t be the Giants, the only reason to show up on Sunday will be to thank 10 for the memories.