With the news of Eli Manning’s benching and his career to seemingly be over, I would like to take the time to recognize Manning’s impact not just on the city of New York, but the game of football. Eli Manning is not only a first-ballot hall-of-famer, he is a top 10 quarterback of all time.
I have never seen a player take so much criticism yet give so much to a franchise. Jeter’s last season in New York the Yankees missed the playoffs and he batted .256 yet received nothing but love and admiration for everything he gave the New York Yankees. Kobe Bryant’s final season the Lakers missed the playoffs and he averaged about 17 points-per-game on a career-low 35% shooting percentage. Jeter’s final game in Yankee stadium concluded with him getting the game-winning hit and Kobe’s final game as a Laker ended with him scoring 61-points. Why have the Giants’ denied Eli Manning the chance to go out on top? Their roster is not taking them anywhere this season, let the legend who has given that franchise everything over his career go out on his own terms. Eli deserves that.
I’d like to provide a blind narrative to help illustrate just how great Eli has been for the Giants over his career. To do so we will compare two quarterbacks and strip away names, calling each player “Quarterback A” and “Quarterback B” respectively.
Quarterback A has played in the NFL for 15 seasons. Over the span of that time he has won two Super bowls and in those Super bowls he was named MVP both times. He has the ninth-most game winning drives in NFL history — including the third-most playoff game-winning drives, behind only Tom Brady and John Elway. He has the seventh-most passing yards, sixth-most completed passes and 8th most touchdowns. Critics of this quarterback claim that he turns the ball over too much. Quarterback A has thrown the 14th most interceptions in NFL history; he trails Brett Favre, Peyton Manning, Johnny Unitas (who played back when passing the ball was considered witchcraft) and Dan Marino among others. Quarterback A also ranks seventh in most games started by a quarterback.
Now onto Quarterback B. Quarterback B is also in his 15th NFL season. Over that time he has one Super Bowl win and was named MVP of that game. He has the 12th most ever game-winning drives, 17th most passing yards, 16th most completions and 10th most passing touchdowns. Quarterback B remarkably ranks outside the top 150 in interceptions thrown.
Now Quarterback A I will reveal is Eli Manning, two Super Bowl MVPs with a combined 551-yards and three touchdowns. But who is Quarterback B? Would you take Quarterback A over Quarterback B?
Quarterback B is actually Green Bay Packer superstar Aaron Rodgers. Most people when names are involved would take Rodgers over Eli without hesitation. However, when the names are stripped away, there is more thought involved.
Now, there is a narrative that Eli’s defenses carried him to two Super Bowl wins (despite him winning Super Bowl MVP twice). What if I told you that both years the Giants won the Super Bowl Eli Manning did not even have a top-10 defense in terms of points allowed. In fact, in 2011, the second year Manning won the Super Bowl, he was playing with the 27th ranked scoring defense. In Rodgers’ lone Super Bowl year he had the second-ranked defense in terms of points allowed.
The story of the NFL cannot be told without Eli Manning. The great escape that lead to the David Tyree helmet catch and then the perfect throw to Plaxico Burress to stun the 18-0 New England Patriots is one of the greatest sequences in NFL history. The perfect throw to Mario Manningham that led to another victory over Brady, Bill Belichick and the Patriots is something teams dream about when drafting quarterbacks. Eli Manning always came up big in the big game, that is not something that comes up in the scouting report, that is something only the greats have.
Of all the quarterbacks who have ever picked up a football, only one can say he has more rings AND touchdowns than Eli Manning. That man would be Thomas Patrick Brady. Sure Favre, Drew Brees, Peyton and Dan Marino all have thrown for more touchdowns and yards than Eli but none of them have been able to take home the honor of Super Bowl MVP mores than number 10. Eli has the combination of stats and rings that very few other quarterbacks have.
Eli Manning should be considered as first-ballot when talking about Canton but I believe his legacy goes even further than that. I believe Eli Manning is one of the ten greatest quarterbacks of all time.
Whether the argument is all-time stats, Eli is top 10. If it’s Super Bowl wins he is top five. He is one of five players in the history of the NFL to win Super Bowl MVP multiple times. He has faced way more criticism than he deserves and there are plenty of fanbases that would do unforgivable things to see their team win not one, but two Super Bowls. Number 10 is top ten all-time. Are there 10 more accomplished quarterbacks? Perhaps Gardner Minshew someday.