1. Eli Manning
Eli Manning has had a storied career with the NY Giants over the almost decade and a half that he has been their starting quarterback. As a result, Manning has positioned himself in the conversation to be selected to the football Hall of Fame.
Manning, the first overall pick in the 2004 NFL draft, has been the epitome of durability during his NFL career. His 210 consecutive games started ranks him tenth all-time on the NFL list, and third most by a quarterback in NFL history.
Manning’s list of accolades is long and impressive. It includes two Super Bowl championships, two Super Bowl MVP trophies, and four Pro Bowl selections. He is the franchise leader in passing attempts, completions, passing yards, and passing touchdowns in a single game, single-season and for his career.
His 2011 season that culminated in a Super Bowl victory, was perhaps one of the most clutch performances by a quarterback in NFL history. During that season, Manning would set the record for most 4th quarter touchdown passes (15), longest pass completion for a touchdown (99 yards), most game-winning drives in a season (8), most road wins by a quarterback in a single season (8), most passing yards in a single postseason (1,219), most consecutive completions to begin a Super Bowl (9) and became the only quarterback in NFL history to not throw an interception in multiple conference championship starts.
Unfortunately, Manning would be forced to play behind shoddy offensive line play for most of the past decade. The 2011 Super Bowl run was accomplished by Manning and the Giants despite less than stellar offensive line play, further reinforcing how great of a year Manning had.
Manning would wrongfully take a lot of the blame for the NY Giants’ woes, despite the fact that his offensive lines provided almost no protection and very little time for Manning to get the ball to receivers. Manning would handle the criticism like the consummate professional he has been throughout his career.
The past decade would see Manning appear in three of his four Pro Bowls (2011, 2012 and 2015). In addition, Eli would win the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year award for his contributions to society off of the field.
If Manning chooses to retire following the season, he will end his career with a .500 career winning percentage. While that isn’t particularly great for a quarterback of Manning’s caliber, it is less of an indictment of his play as it is of the inability to surround him with the talent necessary to win on a regular basis.
Manning handled the transition to Daniel Jones with the dignity and class that most other Hall of Fame quarterbacks would not have. While he admitted after the season that he did not enjoy being a backup to Jones, he did not show any ill will towards Jones or the Giants during the process.
Instead, Manning mentored Jones and was regularly seen celebrating his successes. This was never more apparent than the video that surfaced following the Giants win over the Redskins in week 16 of the season, where Manning and Jones were seen hanging out at a New Jersey bar.
The Giants and their fans were lucky to have had the likes of Eli Manning for 15 years. While it is unlikely that they fully appreciated Manning for what he brought to the franchise, it became more evident how much he meant to the organization as the season progressed.
If Daniel Jones is able to accomplish a fraction of what Manning was on and off the field, the Giants organization and its fans will be ecstatic. Manning is undoubtedly the greatest quarterback in franchise history and deserves to don the yellow jacket of the football Hall of Fame someday soon.