David Carr made a total of 11 appearances, none of them starts, for the New York Giants as Eli Manning’s backup over two stints between 2008 and 2012.
But as the now-retired quarterback and current NFL Network analyst revealed on Twitter on Sunday, there were some previously unknown white-knuckle moments when he nearly made a 12th appearance for Big Blue — in the NFC Championship against the San Francisco 49ers at Candlestick Park on Jan. 22, 2012.
While Manning was suffering from what the Giants at the time called “a stomach illness” in the week leading up to that title game, Carr’s account clashes with the spin the team put on things back in 2012 — suggesting Manning might have been a lot sicker than was revealed.
“OK, so it was the NFC Championship Game, the Giants against the 49ers, and we started the week of practice, and [Manning] … decided he was going to have the flu,” Carr, 39, said in a video post.
“[Manning] calls me on Tuesday and says, ‘I might not be able to practice, dude, if you can do it on Wednesday …’
“I’m like, that’s fine, I’ll practice on Wednesday. Thursday, the next day, he’s the same thing, he’s sick again.
“So I’m like, OK, it’s fine, he’ll get in practice Friday, maybe he’ll be fine. [But] no. We roll into Friday, he’s still sick, he can’t practice, he’s literally in the training room getting IVs all day, has the flu for like four straight days. So I practice on Friday with the team.”
As Carr related, Manning did finally manage to practice on Saturday and start a day later.
“No one knew he didn’t practice all week,” Carr said.
But a look back shows that the Giants — and Manning himself — put a distinctly sunnier spin on the quarterback’s prognosis.
In a press release from Jan. 19, 2012, the Giants said, “… Eli Manning was back at practice Thursday after missing part of Wednesday’s session with a stomach illness. Manning was stricken with what coach Tom Coughlin called ‘a stomach bug’ and finished Wednesday working at the team facility. Coughlin had predicted the illness would clear up within 24 hours.
“Manning addressed the media Thursday and said he is ‘100 percent,’ adding that he ‘had a full practice today, did everything, took every rep’ and felt ‘good.’”
But, according to Carr, there was one further moment — on game day — in which he still thought he might get a tap from Coughlin.
“There was one time, though, during the game, [Giants defensive end] Justin Tuck comes up to me, and Eli’s getting his head knocked off, I mean the 49ers are all over him — he’s like, ‘You’re going to have to play in this game.’
“I was like, ‘It’s a good thing I practiced for three days with you guys.’”
Turns out that didn’t happen. Manning played every snap, finishing 32-of-58 for 316 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions in the Giants’ 20-17 win. Two weeks later, the Giants beat the New England Patriots 21-17 to win the Super Bowl.
“So it ended up being all right, we ended up winning the game, going on to win the Super Bowl,” Carr said.
Carr’s front-row seat at that Super Bowl marked the end of his playing days. The Giants waived him on Aug. 31, 2013. He joined NFL Network in 2016.