Ben McAdoo 'at peace' with Eli Manning benching that got him fired as Giants coach, admits 'my bedside manner hurt me that week'

Ben McAdoo finally has addressed the one topic people were waiting to hear him talk about: the benching of Eli Manning for Geno Smith that got him fired after 29 games as Giants head coach.

McAdoo wrote in the “What I Learned” section of Peter King’s debut NBCSports.com Monday morning column that he is “at peace” with the decision he made to look at other quarterbacks in preparation for the draft, hoping “to make the Giants stronger for the future.” But he also acknowledged that “my bedside manner hurt me that week” and that Manning’s benching “probably got me fired.”

No need for the word “probably,” of course, but it’s noteworthy to hear McAdoo say it.

“I learned there’s no easy way to make the truly tough decisions,” McAdoo wrote in King’s column. “Right or wrong, I am at peace with how I handled the decision to play quarterbacks other than Eli Manning down the stretch of last season. At the time, we were 2-9, beat up, and I told Eli we wanted to see the other quarterbacks on the roster — including our promising rookie, Davis Webb.

“I was not ending Eli’s career with the Giants; I was making sure we knew what we had behind him with a high draft choice prior to a big quarterback draft,” McAdoo added. “I gave him the option to start the games to keep his streak alive. I understand why he said no, and he was a true pro about it. My bedside manner hurt me that week. I’m working on that.”

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Ben McAdoo throughout his career
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Ben McAdoo throughout his career
SAN FRANCISCO - 2005: Ben McAdoo of the San Francisco 49ers poses for his 2005 NFL headshot at photo day in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Getty Images)
SAN FRANCISCO - OCTOBER 30: Assistant offensive line coach Ben McAdoo meets with center Jeremy Newberry #62 of the San Francisco 49ers in the locker room at halftime during the NFL game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Monster Park on October 30, 2005 in San Francisco, California. The Niners defeated the Buccaneers 15-10. (Photo by Michael Zagaris/Getty Images)
GREEN BAY, WI - 2006: Ben McAdoo of the Green Bay Packers poses for his 2006 NFL headshot at photo day in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Getty Images)
GREEN BAY, WI - 2007: Ben McAdoo of the Green Bay Packers poses for his 2007 NFL headshot at photo day in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Getty Images)
GREEN BAY, WI - 2008: Ben McAdoo of the Green Bay Packers poses for his 2008 NFL headshot at photo day in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Getty Images)
GREEN BAY, WI - 2009: Ben McAdoo of the Green Bay Packers poses for his 2009 NFL headshot at photo day in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by NFL Photos)
GREEN BAY, WI - CIRCA 2010: In this photo provided by the NFL, Ben McAdoo of the Green Bay Packers poses for his 2010 NFL headshot circa 2010 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by NFL via Getty Images)
11 AUG 2014: New York Giants Offensive Coordinator Ben McAdoo during Giants Training Camp at the Timex Performance Center in East Rutherford,NJ. (Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon SMI/Corbis via Getty Images)
16 AUGUST 2014: New York Giants offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo in action during week two of the NFL preseason game between the New York Giants and the Indianapolis Colts, at Lucas Oil Stadium, in Indianapolis, IN. (Photo by MSA/Icon SMI/Corbis via Getty Images)
EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - AUGUST 28: (NEW YORK DAILIES OUT) Offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo of the New York Giants goes over a play with Eli Manning #10 during a game against the New England Patriots on August 28, 2014 at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The Giants defeated the Patriots 16-13. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - DECEMBER 20: (NEW YORK DAILIES OUT) Eli Manning #10 of the New York Giants talks with offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo during a game against the Carolina Panthers on December 20, 2015 at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The Panthers defeated the Giants 38-35. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - AUGUST 27: Head coach Ben McAdoo of the New York Giants walks off the field following a preseason game against the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium on August 27, 2016 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The Giants defeated the Jets 21-20. (Photo by Rich Barnes/Getty Images)
EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - SEPTEMBER 18: Head coach Ben McAdoo of the New York Giants looks on as they play against the New Orleans Saints during the second half at MetLife Stadium on September 18, 2016 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The New York Giants won 16-13. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - NOVEMBER 06: (NEW YORK DAILIES OUT) Head coach Ben McAdoo of the New York Giants and Dwayne Harris #17 celebrate after defeating the Philadelphia Eagles on November 6, 2016 at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The Giants defeated the Eagles 28-23. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
New York Giants head coach Ben McAdoo when the New York Giants cleaned out their lockers after their season-ending loss to Green Bay Monday, January 9, 2017 at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center in East Rutherford, NJ. (Photo by Robert Sabo/NY Daily News via Getty Images)
EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - JULY 29: New York Giants head coach Ben McAdoo talks with New York Giants tight end Evan Engram (88) during 2017 New York Giants training camp on July 29, 2017, at Quest Diagnostics Center in East Rutherford, NJ. (Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - AUGUST 21: Head coach Ben McAdoo of the New York Giants looks on prior to a preseason game against the Cleveland Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium on August 21, 2017 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
TAMPA, FL - OCTOBER 1: Head coach Ben McAdoo of the New York Giants takes notes on the sidelines during the second quarter of an NFL football game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on October 1, 2017 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images)
TAMPA, FL - OCTOBER 1: Head Coach Ben McAdoo of the New York Giants addresses the media in his post game press conference after the game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium on October 1, 2017 in Tampa, Florida. The Buccanners defeated the Giants 25 to 23. (Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images)
EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - OCTOBER 22: (NEW YORK DAILIES OUT) Head coach Ben McAdoo of the New York Giants walks off the field after a game against the Seattle Seahawks on October 22, 2017 at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The Seahawks defeated the Giants 24-7. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
OAKLAND, CA - DECEMBER 03: Head coach Ben McAdoo of the New York Giants looks during their NFL game against the Oakland Raiders at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on December 3, 2017 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
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McAdoo made a lot of these same points in his initial announcement of Manning’s benching back on Nov. 28, 2017, though at that time he also stressed that the team’s “number one job” still was “to win a football game.” And his insinuation that Smith could do that better than Manning struck a major nerve among Giants fans, even though Smith was more capable in the Week 12 game in Oakland than Manning had been the previous week in Washington.

McAdoo’s acknowledgement in King’s column of his poor “bedside manner” as a factor — presumably referring both to his dealings inside the organization and with the media that week — was a valid observation. But it’s interesting that he did not mention Smith’s name at any point in the passage.

Oddly, McAdoo even went on to admire the fan reaction that contributed to his swift dismissal.

“I do think it was special how his former teammates and the fans rallied around him that week,” McAdoo said of Manning. “But if there’s one thing I want fans of the Giants to know, it’s that I made this call to try to make the Giants stronger for the future. It probably got me fired, but I believe I did the right thing for the right reasons.”

The unforgettable controversy, of course, began with a Nov. 28 team press release announcing that Geno Smith would start Dec. 3 in Oakland. And it concluded with McAdoo’s and GM Jerry Reese’s prompt firings on Dec. 4.

29 PHOTOS
Eli Manning through his career
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Eli Manning through his career
University of Mississippi quarterback Eli Manning (R) greets Oklahoma State Cowboys quarterback Josh Fields after the Rebels defeated the Cowboys 31-28 at the 68th Cotton Bowl Classic in Dallas, Texas, January 2, 2004. Manning passed for 259 yards. REUTERS/Jeff Mitchell JM
Quarterback Eli Manning (L), from the University of Mississippi, stands with his brother, NFL quarterback Payton Manning, after Eli was chosen as the first overall pick in the NFL Draft, at Madison Square Garden in New York, April 24, 2004. Manning was originally selected by the San Diego Chargers, who then traded him to the New York Giants shortly afterwards for future draft picks. REUTERS/Chip East MS/HB
New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning (10), the first choice in the 2004 National Football League draft, listens to Offensive Coordinator John Hufnagel (L) as he works out on the first day of the Giants Mandatory Mini-Camp at the Giants practice facility next to Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey, May 7, 2004. REUTERS/Ray Stubblebine RFS
New York Giants starting quarterback Eli Manning throws a pass during the second quarter against the Atlanta Falcons at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey, November 21, 2004. Manning, this season's number 1 overall NFL draft pick, was making his first start for the Giants replacing Kurt Warner who started the Giants' first nine games of the season. REUTERS/Mike Segar MS
New York Giants quarterback Manning celebrates throwing a touchdown pass next to Arizona Cardinals Okeafor in East Rutherford. New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning (R) celebrates throwing a touchdown pass next to Arizona Cardinals Chike Okeafor (L) during first quarter action in their NFL game in East Rutherford September 11, 2005. REUTERS/Gary Hershorn
New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning throws against the Washington Redskins in the first half of their NFL game in Landover, Maryland, December 24, 2005. Washington defeated New York 35-20. REUTERS/Gary Cameron
Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning (L) talks with his brother, New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning, following their NFL football game in East Rutherford September 10, 2006. The game was the first time the brothers played against each other as quarterbacks in the NFL. Indianapolis defeated New York. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz (UNITED STATES)
New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning tries to evade a tackle by Dallas Cowboys linebacker Demarcus Ware (R) in the fourth quarter of their NFL footall game in East Rutherford, New Jersey, December 3, 2006. REUTERS/Ray Stubblebine (UNITED STATES)
New York Giants' quarterback Eli Manning (10) rolls out of the pocket during second quarter of his team's NFL football game against the Buffalo Bills in Orchard Park, New York December 23, 2007. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid (UNITED STATES)
New York Giants head coach Tom Coughlin (L) stands with quarterback Eli Manning before their NFC Divisional NFL playoff football game against the Dallas Cowboys in Irving, Texas, January 13, 2008. REUTERS/Mike Stone (UNITED STATES)
New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning is interviewed by the NFL Network during press conference in Phoenix, Arizona, January 28, 2008. The Giants will play the undefeated New England Patriots in the National Football League's Super Bowl XLII in Glendale, Arizona, February 3, 2008. REUTERS/Jeff Topping (UNITED STATES)
New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning (10) celebrates after his touchdown pass to teammate David Tyree (not pictured) in the fourth quarter against the New England Patriots in the NFL's Super Bowl XLII football game in Glendale, Arizona, February 3, 2008. REUTERS/Jeff Haynes (UNITED STATES)
New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning holds up the Vince Lombardi Trophy during his team's ticker tape Super Bowl victory parade through the Canyon of Heroes along Broadway in New York February 5, 2008. REUTERS/Jim Young (UNITED STATES)
New York Giants Eli Manning looks on as time expires during the fourth quarter of their NFL football game loss to the Cleveland Browns in Cleveland, Ohio October 13, 2008. REUTERS/Aaron Josefczyk (UNITED STATES)
New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning and his wife Abby McGrew watch the match between Andy Roddick and John Isner at the U.S. Open tennis championship in New York, September 5, 2009. REUTERS/David Gray (UNITED STATES SPORT TENNIS ENTERTAINMENT)
New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning celebrates throwing a touchdown pass to Hakeem Nicks against the Carolina Panthers during the first quarter in their NFL football game in East Rutherford, New Jersey, September 12, 2010. The touchdown was the first scored during a regular season game in the Giants new stadium. REUTERS/Ray Stubblebine (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)
New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning waves as he leaves the field after the Giants defeated the Dallas Cowboys in their NFL football game in East Rutherford, New Jersey, January 1, 2012. REUTERS/Gary Hershorn (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)
New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning addresses the media during a news conference for the Super Bowl XLVI in Indianapolis January 30, 2012. The Giants will play against the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl on February 5. REUTERS/Jeff Haynes (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)
New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning holds the Vince Lombardi Trophy after the Giants defeated the New England Patriots in the NFL Super Bowl XLVI football game in Indianapolis, Indiana, February 5, 2012. REUTERS/Mike Segar (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY)
New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning passes against the New York Jets during the first quarter of their pre-season NFL football game in East Rutherford, New Jersey August 18, 2012. REUTERS/Adam Hunger (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)
New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning (L) stands with teammate Lawrence Tynes in the final minutes of their NFL football game against the Philadelphia Eagles in East Rutherford, New Jersey, December 30, 2012. REUTERS/Gary Hershorn (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)
May 4, 2014; Bronx, NY, USA; New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning and Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning watch the game between the New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 9, 2014; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning (10) hands off the ball to New York Giants running back Rashad Jennings (23) in the first quarter against the Pittsburgh Steelers at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 28, 2014; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning (10) reacts after a touchdown was called back on a holding penalty during the game against the Philadelphia Eagles at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 1, 2015; New Orleans, LA, USA; New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning (10) before a game against the New Orleans Saints at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 5, 2016; San Francisco, CA, USA; From left Benjamin Watson , Eli Manning , Anquan Boldin stand with their awards during the Walter Payton man of the year press conference at Moscone Center in advance of Super Bowl 50 between the Carolina Panthers and the Denver Broncos. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 20, 2016; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning (10) drops back to pass against the Chicago Bears during the first quarter at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 10, 2017; Arlington, TX, USA; New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning (10) leaves the field after the game against the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 5, 2017; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning (10) reacts after a play against the New York Giants during the second half at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports
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Co-owner John Mara had signed off on McAdoo’s initial plan, in which he would start Manning in Oakland to keep his streak alive but bring Smith into the game eventually. But after Manning refused to play and cried at his locker — and McAdoo failed to handle the situation well publicly and the outrage of fans and former teammates boiled over — Mara and the Giants reversed course, reinstalled Manning as the starter for the rest of the season and never accomplished the one unquestionably sensible part of McAdoo’s plan: to play Webb in games with an eye on April’s draft.

So the Giants ended up making the No. 2 overall pick in the NFL draft without ever seeing Webb take a single regular-season snap. They passed on a QB, of course, and took Penn State running back Saquon Barkley, whom they hope will help revitalize Manning’s career and the Giants’ fortunes.

McAdoo wasn’t just thinking about Webb, though. Remember that. He strongly believed in Smith’s abilities, too.

Smith told the Daily News in March that when McAdoo was fired, they talked before he left the building and McAdoo “told me he felt like I deserved to play the rest of the season.”

And so it was that while McAdoo “was not ending Eli’s career with the Giants,” the Giants ended up ending his.

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