Eli Manning Talks Tua Tagovailoa's Head Injury and How It Compares to His Own Experiences in the NFL

"I always felt safe knowing they were going to look out for what was best for the players," the retired NFL quarterback tells PEOPLE exclusively of his time on the New York Giants

Former Ole' Miss and New York Giants quarterback, Eli Manning, addresses the fans during half time events at the NCAA football game
Photo: Kevin Langley/Icon Sportswire via Getty

Eli Manning understands the risks present as a quarterback in the NFL.

In the wake of Tua Tagovailoa's second head injury in just five days, the former New York Giants quarterback shared with PEOPLE his opinion on the NFL's handling of the situation, while comparing the Miami Dolphin QB's experience to his own.

"It didn't look good," Manning, 41, tells PEOPLE exclusively. "That was tough to watch and tough to see," he says of Tagovailoa being pulled off the field in a stretcher during the Sept. 29 Dolphins game against the Cincinnati Bengals.

The 24-year-old's removal from the field, due to signs of a concussion, comes shortly after he had absorbed a hard hit during the Sept. 25 game against the Buffalo Bills. Controversy ensued when he returned to the field for the second half of the game after Dolphins' doctors announced that he had a back injury — not a concussion.

Eli Manning Compares the Handling of Tua Tagovailoa's Head Injury to His Own Experiences in the NFL
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"You never want to put someone out there that is dealing with a concussion that could lead to something worse and could have an effect down the line," he says.

While the 16-year-NFL veteran expressed sympathy for the third-year quarterback, Manning couldn't help but profess gratitude for the health professionals he had by his side on the Giants.

"I was fortunate to be around the Giants organization and great trainers," says Manning, who went on to give athletic trainer Ronnie Barnes, who's been with the Giants since 1976, a special shout out.

Eli Manning
Eli Manning. Emilee Chinn/Getty

"[Ronnie] always took care of the players first and was always concerned," Manning continued. "He would never put us out there in that situation."

Manning says he always put his trust in the health professionals on the team.

"I always felt safe knowing they were going to look out for what was best for the players in the organization," he says. "I think that's still the case with the Giants."

In order to "prevent as many injuries as possible," Manning understands the importance of taking care of his body both on and off the gridiron. Specifically, he fuels himself with a nutritious breakfast each morning, and recently partnered with Quaker to help fight food insecurity.

"I'm a huge oatmeal fan. I've pretty much had it every single morning for the last 15 years," he says. "Quaker believes that the circumstances of life should never be a barrier to good nutrition."

To help tackle hunger and advance food security, Quaker is introducing the Quaker Hunger Clock in partnership with Feeding America in attempt to raise $500,000 for the nonprofit by Super Bowl LVII.

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