Eli Manning Poses with Kids in Rare Photo Shoot as He Shares Which Sport He Loves to Coach Them In
The Children's Place
Eli Manning's family is gearing up for spring.
The two-time Super Bowl champ is joined by son Charlie, who turns 4 later this week, and daughter Caroline, 7, in a campaign for The Children's Place celebrating their new offerings for spring and Easter. The family appears alongside Shaun O'Hara, Justin Tuck, Emmanuel Sanders, Brian Westbrook and their families in a whimsical ad celebrating the season.
Speaking with PEOPLE about the campaign, the NFL star and father of four said he was excited to get involved with this "really fun idea."
"It was an opportunity for me to do something with a couple of my kids and be a part of a commercial with them, which was exciting," he says. "It's something they've never done before."
Manning, 42, also loved the opportunity to get together with his old buddies.
"To get those guys together, get their families and kids to come along with this great idea of kind of how these old players celebrate Easter and do an Easter egg hunt and play this football game while wearing matching pajamas, and with a brand that I know and our family uses, it was a lot of fun."
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The retired New York Giants quarterback says that while his silly side may be newer to the public, his kids love it because "that's who I am at home."
"They've seen that side for a long time, so I think they enjoy it. They laugh at it, but I think they're at the age where I'm not embarrassing them just yet," he tells PEOPLE. "My oldest [daughter Ava] is 11 years old, so maybe in a few years, it might be different. But at this time, we can laugh about it."
Manning is also enjoying getting immersed in his kids' lives in the three years since retiring from professional football, in part by coaching 9-year-old daughter Lucy's basketball team.
"My fourth-grade daughter, Lucy, I'm coaching her fourth-grade basketball team. I usually start in the third or fourth grade, by coaching basketball. I did it from my oldest, so I stick with that," he shares. "If you start coaching too many things, you end up missing out on a lot of other things."
Manning says his kids keep his weekend "jam-packed" with their different athletic pursuits.
"I have my youngest daughter, Caroline, who is in this ad, is a hockey player, and she's a swimmer. And then Ava's in swimming and lacrosse and basketball, so they're playing a ton of different sports at different times," he explains.
Coaching has also helped him get to know his kids' friends.
"[When I was in the NFL,] I had time with my kids, but it was late at night, or they'd come to the football games. I was with them a lot, but I didn't get the go to all their sporting events or coach them. I didn't really always know their pals and their buddies," he tells PEOPLE.
"So I think with the coaching, you kind of get to see them outside of the school and in a different environment and how they handle things. How they act around their pals and their buddies and include people that maybe don't go to the same school with them," he continues. "I think of my childhood just all the great pals and friends and playing sports and how that was just such a great environment for me."
For Manning and wife Abbey McGrew, it was important to let their kids explore "a lot of different activities" so that the couple could "see what sticks and see if we can find something that they are truly passionate about."
The pro athlete says that some of the greatest moments are seeing his kids help each other with their different skills.
"I love when they go out there, and it's just two of them tossing the lacrosse ball back and forth together or playing one-on-one basketball or shooting hoops," he says. "I just said I have such fine memories of that with my brothers, pick-up games in front yards."
As a dad, he's also enjoying watching the relationship between his kids blossom as they get more involved in their own lives.
"We went on a ski trip and are two oldest ones were just skiing around together, you know by themselves for a few hours. They can be in touch and they check in, but you know, just great opportunities for them to bond on certain things that they have in common."
When given the chance, Manning also likes to get his family together with those of his brothers.
"It's hard to get some good time in with extended family, with all the kids and everybody together. My brother Cooper lives in New Orleans. My parents live in New Orleans. Peyton lives in Denver, and I live in New Jersey. So we're all over the place, and so we try to find some time over the summer and take a trip," he says.
"It's hard with everyone's schedule, and kids are different ages. Some are in college, some are playing high school sports. Some get out of school in May, and we get out in June. We try to take a beach trip sometime in the summer together, you know, which we did growing up, which is always a lot of fun."
With spring just around the corner, Manning is excited to get back outside with his crew.
"Spring is exciting, especially in the northeast when you've had a long winter. So just some sunshine and getting outside will be great. Obviously with Easter, and with all our young kids, it's always a big celebration with the Easter egg hunt."
This Easter, the Mannings will celebrate in some of the matching gear they sport in the ad. "That's a great thing about The Children's Place is their matching outfits, and how they bring everything together and make it very family-friendly," Manning shares. "I can't wait to get out there with the family, do a big Easter egg hunt, play some games, and some pickup games outside."