• Brian L. Barefield

Attention To Orders: The Great Debate- Is Eli Manning a Hall of Fame QB?

With the recent news of the New York Giants benching Eli Manning for their 2019 first-round draft pick out of Duke, Daniel Jones, it has started a lot of chatter back and forth on the radio airwaves, social media, and televised sports shows.

This morning on ESPN’s morning sports show, Get Up, commentator Paul Finebaum, former NFL players Dominique Foxworth and Ryan Clark had a heated debate about Manning. Does his career numbers, Super Bowl victories and MVP’s warrant him NFL Hall of Fame entrance?

I believe that is a very fair and honest question. If we are going off of pure stats alone, he has a strong case. In his 15-year career he has amassed 56,537 yards, 362 touchdowns, 241 interceptions and completed 60.3% of his passes. Durability has been his signature calling card as he only missed one game from 2005 to 2017 and that was because he was benched in 2017 for inefficiency.

He has two Super Bowl victories (XLII-2007, XLVI-2011) and won the MVP in those games against the juggernaut of a franchise in the New England Patriots. If we were to just stop right there, Eli would receive first ballot Hall of Fame honors. But. And you knew that was coming. There is another side that has to be considered when evaluating the younger brother of former NFL great, Peyton Manning.

Let’s start with the fact that since 2014 his record has been 31-50 with 2016 being the only year his team finished over .500 and made it to the playoffs. Some will say that it has been the steady decline of the Giants organization that has put Eli in that situation, but it was that same organization that has stuck with him during the decline in his ability to get the ball down the field to a top-five wide receiver in Odell Beckham Jr. His 116-116 career record is very unimpressive compared to other active quarterbacks considered for the Hall of Fame.

Manning supporters will say, “But let’s look how great he has been in the playoffs.” Ok. Let’s do that. Like I mentioned earlier, no one can take the Super Bowl wins and MVP’s away from him. He earned those. Well, kind of. Of course, the quarterback gets all the credit in the wins because let’s face it, they are considered the face of the franchise.

New York was outmanned coming into Super Bowl XLII against the Patriots. New England was looking to cap off an undefeated season and replace the 1972 Miami Dolphins as the greatest team of all-time. Tom Brady had thrown for over 4,800 yards and 50 touchdowns. Hall of Fame wide receiver Randy Moss had caught over 23 touchdowns while having nearly1,500 yards receiving. Not since “The Greatest Show on Turf,” St. Louis Rams team had we laid witness to a team with so much offensive firepower.

The Giants were clearly the underdog but ended up defeating the Patriots 17-14. Wait. Let me repeat that. 17-14! For as much credit as we want to give Manning for throwing two touchdowns in that game, we also have to give the Giants defense a lot of credit for stifling that offense. Plus, they did it by getting pressure with just four players upfront. That Patriots offense had scored over 50 points twice that season and even put up 38 on that same Giants defense in a Week 17 victory.

So, to hold them to one passing touchdown and contain Brady was a huge feat within itself. Manning had one hell of an escape to get the ball to wide receiver David Tyree whose catch goes down in history as one of the best ever. That capped off the victory for the Giants and Eli was named MVP.

Four years later the Giants and Patriots would square off again in Super Bowl XLVI with the outcome being the same as before. New York defeated New England by a score of 21-17 and prevent the perennial favorites from winning it all again. Just like the last time they met, Eli won the MVP honors with a game managing performance of one touchdown.

During his Super Bowl runs, Manning was one of the best quarterbacks to ever play the game. In his eight starts he was 8-0 with 2,073 yards, 15 touchdowns and only two interceptions. He completed 63% of his passes as well.

It was those off years in the playoffs that made him mortal and have voters and fans scratching their heads. In four other playoff appearances (05, 06, 08, 16) he has 742 yards passing, three touchdowns and seven interceptions.

How will Eli be judged when it is time for the voters to put him in? Will the Super Bowl wins be enough? Will they take his regular season record into consideration? All these questions have to be answered when the time comes. I will reserve my vote until his name comes up.

15 views0 comments