Eli Manning is not the sole blame for the New York Giants’ worst start since the Carter administration, but his poor play certainly hasn’t helped. And at 36 years old, it begs the question: Is Eli Manning a future Hall of Famer?
Well, for starters, his multiple Super Bowl wins and multiple Super Bowl MVP awards are at the top of his resume. Not many quarterbacks can claim that.
To understand Manning’s case for the gold jacket, though, we must first understand the case against him.
His detractors will you tell you that he was never a top-five quarterback in a single season and that even at his zenith, Eli was good — very good even — but not great. A key reason as to why? The incessant turnovers, specifically ill-timed interceptions.
Even in 2011, Manning’s best statistical season, he totaled 16 interceptions along with six fumbles. In fact, Manning’s 1.5-to-1 touchdown-to-interception ratio would represent the worst such ratio out of the 23 modern Hall of Fame quarterbacks. Brett Favre, who will soon be in Canton, has the closest TD-INT clip (slightly worse at 1.51), but Favre tossed 508 scores, compared to Manning’s 332. Better yet, Favre earned 11 trips to the Pro Bowl — compared to Manning’s four — and six All-Pro honors, compared to Manning’s zero.
Manning pundits will also be quick to mention his lackluster winning percentage, which hovers around the .540 mark. The NFL is a quarterback driven league and whomever is under center often gets the bulk of the credit for winning and the brunt of the blame for losing.
Manning certainly has underperformed in a slew of regular season games. He is not and has not ever been a mobile quarterback. We all know that. Plus, since when did a .540 winning percentage draw criticism? Did you know that Drew Brees’ all-time clip is only slightly higher, about .568? Is Brees not a Hall of Fame lock, let alone a surefire first-ballot honoree?
Manning’s brilliance since becoming the first overall pick in the 2004 draft can be measured in many ways, perhaps none more important than “Playoff Eli.” During the Giants’ combined eight wins en route to Manning’s two world titles, No. 10 threw a combined 15 touchdowns and just two interceptions, while twice breaking the hearts of the New England Patriots. Just one of those playoff runs is as impressive a stretch by a quarterback as we’ve ever seen in the postseason, and yet Manning did it twice.
Better yet, consider the stats. Manning — who has never once missed a single start — ranks seventh all-time in passing yardage (behind John Elway), sixth in touchdown passes (behind Dan Marino) and is tied for seventh in fourth-quarter comebacks with Favre and Fran Tarkenton, and only behind names like Unitas, Brady and his brother, Peyton. Regardless of if Eli ever amassed a single “elite” season, those are surely elite credentials.
Keep Peyton in mind as well, because it was perhaps the sheer brilliance of his career that makes Eli’s career seem rather humble. And I get that. But that is neither a fair or even a relevant argument. Just as it wasn’t relevant to compare Peyton to Archie during his disastrous rookie season when he tossed 28 picks and compiled a 1-15 record with the Colts.
When it’s all said and done, Eli Manning has earned the right to step in front of the microphone in Canton, Ohio, donning the gold jacket and delivering his Hall of Fame speech.
– – – – – – –
Follow Jordan Schultz on Twitter @Schultz_Report