The untold truth of Eli Manning's wife

Elisha "Eli" Manning is known for leading the New York Giants to various Super Bowl victories, and when he's away from the football field, he's a father of three and husband to his supportive wife, Abby McGrew. The pair's relationship history dates back to their college days at Ole Miss, and in 2008, they tied the knot at the One & Only Palmilla resort in Los Cabos, Mexico, according to My New Orleans.

McGrew may not be as well known as her superstar husband, but she's living an equally vibrant and fulfilling life behind the scenes, from her philanthropic efforts to a career in the fashion industry. Who would've known? There's actually much more about the low-profile beauty that many are unaware of, including her acquired love for antiquing and all the adorable details about her husband's bond with their three daughters. This is the untold truth of Eli Manning's wife.

Super-private college sweethearts

This love story began in college when Eli Manning and Abby McGrew were both students at the University of Mississippi — also known as Ole Miss. According to their wedding announcement on My New Orleans, the smitten couple met in spring 2002, "while he was a junior and she was a freshman." The duo reportedly made things official around the time that he became the quarterback for their university's football team in the fall of 2002. 

It would take another five years for him to propose to her, and staying true to their love for keeping the ins and outs of their relationship top-secret, Manning was rather tight-lipped about the details surrounding their engagement. He told a crowd at the annual Ole Miss Ladies Football Forum in 2007(via NJ.com) that he proposed "very simply in Hoboken, New Jersey," before adding, "So no great story." 

In order to get more deets on the proposal, the press had to pry information out of anonymous sources, including an insider who spoke to the New York Daily News. "It was really low-key — it happened at home at a very unexpected moment," the source said. "It was so Eli — casual, no-frills, so in his nature."

She went to a prestigious Nashville private school

Before shipping off to Ole Miss where she would meet the man she would marry, Abby McGrew attended the prestigious Nashville private school, Brentwood Academy, which describes itself as "a college preparatory Christian school" where the "expressed priority is nurturing a strong academic work ethic to develop life-long learners." There's not much public info about her time there, but one of the school's defining characteristics tied McGrew to Manning before they ever knew each other.

That characteristic is football — more specifically, a powerhouse program that sent Brentwood's Eagles flying to the state playoffs (including many championship wins) every year from 1975 to 2018, according to TSSAAsports.com. The association wasn't lost on the Brentwood TN Guide blog's Fun Times Guide, which noted upon McGrew's engagement to Manning, "The school's leadership must be thrilled with their new association with Eli Manning — even if it will be through marriage!" We're guessing she's pretty popular at reunions. 

A fashion industry exec

During her time at Ole Miss, Abby McGrew managed to find the time to pledge a sorority, Kappa Delta, while also working toward her degree in family and consumer sciences, according to Athlon Sports. After she graduated from college in 2005, then-boyfriend Eli Manning was already playing at the starting quarterback position for the New York Giants, so McGrew probably could've hung up her diploma and lived off Manning's football funds. Instead, she decided to head out into the real world and snag a job of her own.

McGrew reportedly moved to the Big Apple and worked as an account executive for famed evening wear designer Pamella Roland, Athlon Sports reported.

This Jersey girl is 'very chatty'

Since being selected as the No. 1 pick in the 2004 National Football League draft, Eli Manning and Abby McGrew have settled comfortably into the New Jersey area — very comfortably. According to Giants Wire, they purchased a mansion in Quogue, N.J. for a cool $8.5 million in 2017.  

Though they may live in fancy digs, McGrew and her hubby are still as humble as ever, according to residents who've come in contact with the high-profile couple. According to a 2012 CBS New York report, the duo has frequented low-key establishments during downtime, including the Ganache Café, where McGrew would always order her favorite, a "medium latte." Folks have also claimed that Mr. and Mrs. Manning's personalities are equally down-to-earth. A waiter at Madison Bar and Grill in Hoboken, N.J. called McGrew  "very chatty," while another person described the couple as being "so kind, so nice."

Their wedding was low-key, but her engagement ring was not

Eli Manning and Abby McGrew tied the knot on April 19, 2008 in a beautiful, intimate ceremony at The One & Only Palmilla Resort in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. The New York Post reported that "only close relatives" attended the festivities, which included, per My New Orleans, "a lavish sit-down dinner near the water's edge," complete with a gourmet, five-tier "chocolate and white cake," as well as "individual chocolate rings [distributed] to all the guests, served on a silver platter by the groomsmen, the same way the real Super Bowl rings are presented."

McGrew got her ring the year before during a trip she and Manning took back to his hometown of New Orleans. There, the star QB popped the question with a custom-designed, "gorgeous Adler's emerald-cut center stone ring, flanked by two emerald-cut diamonds on either side."

Of the happy bride and groom, their Nashville wedding consultant Karen Kaforey told The New York Post, "[McGrew] really is a sweetheart. ... Both families are very, very sweet."

We love a charitable WAG

With a husband that was named one of the highest-paid athletes in the world, according to Forbes, Abby McGrew has proven to be one generous WAG (the acronym for athletes' wives and girlfriends). She has a penchant for giving back in a major way, including in 2009, when she and Manning supported a five-year, $10 million fundraising drive to create a state-of-the-art birthing center at New York's St. Vincent's Hospital.

But that's not all, she has also given hefty donations to her alma mater, including a $1 million donation to the Ole Miss Opportunity scholarship program in 2010. In 2016, she and Manning were working on behalf of children and families once again when they donated $1 million to Children's of Mississippi's "Growing" capital campaign. "Every mother wants her children to have what they need, and when they need medical care, they want that care to be compassionate and to be available nearby," McGrew said in a statement shared by the organization's website. "This is why Children's of Mississippi means so much to our family."

She's Eli's good luck charm

Marrying an NFL superstar obviously has its perks, but in Abby McGrew's case, there also happened to be one drawback thanks to a peculiar superstition of her husband. According to The New York Post, McGrew had to eschew the comfort of a luxury box to root for her beloved from the stands like a normal ticket holder. What?!

Speaking with the outlet in January 2008, Eli Manning's older brother Cooper said of his soon-to-be-sister-in-law at the time, "Once or twice she was invited to sit in a suite and things didn't end well." He then added that Abby's cheap seats rule wasn't exactly her idea. "In the spirit of superstition, Eli told her, 'I don't care if it's 4 degrees in Green Bay, you're sitting in the stands,'" Cooper jokingly said.

So how did Abby feel about braving the elements, shouting vendors, and drunken fans? We don't know for sure, although Cooper promised, "She's buying into it ... she understands it." Talk about a team player.

A terrible gaffe

Eli Manning and Abby McGrew shun the limelight and celeb drama, so we felt nothing but sadness for the couple when it was dragged into a media firestorm in the most embarrassing way. 

When Democratic Congressman Steve Cohen was approached by TMZ to make a comment about football player Sammie Hill being accused of sexual assault, the lawmaker answered: "I never heard of him. I don't keep up with football, except college football, except Eli Manning or Peyton Manning, and Eli and Peyton don't do sexual assaults against people other than their wives." Yup, our jaws just dropped!

A rep for the congressman's office released a statement saying Cohen "misspoke, abhors sexual violence of any kind, is a fan of both Manning brothers, and deeply regrets any confusion," reported the Daily Mail. However, that didn't stop Cohen's gaffe from making embarrassing headlines near and far. 

From the football field to playing dress-up

Although Eli Manning loves the game of football, his wife and his children always come first. The Super Bowl champ is raising three daughters: Ava Frances born in 2011, Lucy Thomas born in 2013, and Caroline Olivia born in 2015. Manning's dedication to his family was clear when he skipped out on attending Super Bowl XLIX as a spectator so he could be by his wife's side as she gave birth to their third daughter, the New York Daily News reported. 

Manning doesn't mind being outnumbered by females in his family, telling Parents magazine after the birth of Ava: "Having a girl is a blast." There's no limit to what he will do to make his baby girls happy, either. He told Parents, "I even play dress-up with [Ava]" and revealed that his favorite part of the day is bath time.

But when it comes to considering the pigskin as a potential future for his girls — that's where Manning draws the line. "I don't think I'd want my girls to play football one day," he told Parade. "I hope they have some interest in sports, but if they don't that's fine."

For the love of antiquing

As a kid, Eli Manning would "go shopping with his mom for antiques" to avoid going to his older brothers' basketball games, The New York Times reported. "The first couple of times it wasn't because I wanted to," Manning told the publication. "It was just because [my mom] wanted to go shopping and there was nobody to watch me, so I had to tag along." However, after a few trips searching for antiques, Manning told the publication he "started to enjoy it."

After enrolling at Ole Miss, he hit up New Orleans' iconic Magazine Street — one of the many places he would shop with his mom during his childhood — to find decorations for his college apartment. He also perused that same treasure-filled area when it came time to choose decor for his apartment in Hoboken, N.J. when he made the big move to play professional football. Manning even passed on his love for antiquing to his wife, Abby McGrew, who "now joins him when he browses for antiques during the off-season," the Times reported.

The couple who antiques together stays together!