Eli Manning joins Guiding Eyes board of directors

Eli Manning (Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images)
Eli Manning (Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images) /

Eli Manning has joined the Guiding Eyes for the Blind board of directors.

While the NFL Draft was last weekend, Eli Manning has been drafted, so to speak, to the board of directors of Guiding Eyes for the Blind. This news was announced Wednesday morning, April 29, which just so happens to be International Guide Dog Day.

The son of New Orleans Saints quarterback Archie Manning and younger brother of Super Bowl-winning Indianapolis Colts/Denver Broncos QB Peyton Manning, in college Eli Manning led the Ole Miss Rebels to the 2002 Independence Bowl and the 2003 Cotton Bowl, winning both over Nebraska and Oklahoma State, respectively.

“I am thrilled to continue my journey with Guiding Eyes for the Blind as a member of the Board of Directors,” Manning said in a press release. “I have had years of practice working with a dedicated team of individuals towards a common goal. I hope to use that experience to champion Guiding Eyes, which means so much to me and my entire family.”

As a Rebel, Manning completed 829 of 1,323 passes for 10,119 yards and 81 touchdowns in 43 games across four years (stats via Sports Reference). He was then drafted by the San Diego Chargers in the first round of the 2004 NFL Draft and immediately traded to the New York Giants, where he spent his entire NFL career. (San Diego got their longtime signal caller Phillip Rivers in this trade, which sent Drew Brees to New Orleans.)

Manning twice led the Giants to victories over Tom Brady’s New England Patriots in Super Bowls 42 and 46, in addition to three NFC East championships. For his career, he completed 4,895 of 8,119 passes in 236 games, throwing for 57,023 yards and 366 touchdowns with 244 interceptions. He also ran 315 times for 567 yards and seven touchdowns on the ground.

In the playoffs, Manning played in a dozen games, racking up 2,815 yards on 242-of-400 passing with 18 touchdowns and nine interceptions, winning Super Bowl MVP twice and being named to four Pro Bowls.

“He has been a committed volunteer and partner to Guiding Eyes for many years and has a wealth of knowledge to bring to the table,” Guiding Eyes President and CEO Thomas Panek said in a press release. “We are all glad to be on Eli’s team.”

Off the field, Peyton and Eli Manning have both starred together in commercials for a variety of products, including Oreos, and Eli hosted a Saturday Night Live episode in 2012.

Manning and his wife Abby have been volunteering with Guiding Eyes for close to fifteen years, and last summer their family helped name a litter of puppies, who are now currently in training to become guide dogs.

“Eli’s leadership and commitment are legendary, and Guiding Eyes will benefit tremendously from these skills,” John Donnelly, Board Chair for Guiding Eyes for the Blind, said in a press release. “Eli has spent time with us and learned first hand how our dogs enable people to live independent lives.”

Since its founding in 1954, the Guiding Eyes facility, with a main campus in Yorktown Heights, New York, about an hour north of New York City, has been training guide dogs and their blind or visually-impaired human handlers to become the strongest team possible, which has happened around 8,000 times to date. In at least one case, two of their students fell in love and got married.

These services and training are provided free of charge to students, though Guiding Eyes relies entirely on donations to help keep things operating.

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For more information about Guiding Eyes, see their website, call at 914-245-4024, or check out their Twitter at @GuidingEyes.

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