For 16 years, all Eli Manning ever did was show up for work every Sunday and play football. For the last 8 (at least), Manning supporters have touted his Hall of Fame credentials against those vehemently opposed to the idea. Now that he’s officially retired – and until his name is on the HOF ballot five years from now – fans need to stop trying to convince those who remain unconvinced.
Frankly, it’s a tired debate across the league. After 16 seasons, football fans are either convinced that Eli Manning is a Hall of Famer or they aren’t; and there does not appear to be any middle-ground (for the most part) on this topic. However, #10’s legacy speaks for itself:
Two-time Super Bowl Champion
Two-time Super Bowl MVP
57,023 career passing yards (7th all-time)
366 touchdown passes (7th all-time)
16 seasons; 117-117 win-loss record, with 125 total victories (including postseason)
Four-time Pro Bowler (2008, 2011, 2012, 2015)
5 playoff game-winning drives (T-3rd all-time with Joe Montana)
37 regular season game-winning drives (10th all-time)
Third-most consecutive starts by a QB (210) in the NFL
2016 NFL Walter Payton Man of the Year
Within the Hall of Fame debate, there seems to be the belief that enshrinement in Canton, OH should only be reserved for greatness – and granted, Eli Manning did not redefine the quarterback position in the traditional sense. Instead, his outstanding performances in the playoffs are what set Eli apart from even the most notable Hall of Famers.
Not even his older brother, Peyton Manning – one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history – has better stats in the postseason than Eli.
It is Manning’s two iconic Super Bowl runs that will most likely earn him a bust in Canton; owing to how instrumental he was to the Giants’ success in both the 2007 and 2011 postseasons.
In fact, his extraordinary performances throughout the Divisional, Conference, and Super Bowl rounds in 2007 and 2011 proved that when the money was on the line, Manning could out-play the best of them.
Case in point: his thrilling road victories over Hall of Fame QB, Brett Favre, and future Hall of Famer QB, Aaron Rodgers in Lambeau Field during the 2007 and 2011 campaigns respectively; as well as both come-from-behind Super Bowl victories over Tom Brady and the Patriots Dynasty.
Ask yourselves: If Tom Brady is widely accepted as the greatest of all time (G.O.A.T), then what title does the player who bested him twice deserve as a result of two epic championship-winning drives?
Manning is one of only 5 players in the NFL to earn multiple Super Bowl MVP honors along with Tom Brady (4), Bart Starr (2), Terry Bradshaw (2) and Joe Montana (3). There has never been a QB who won two Super Bowl Championships and two MVP honors who hasn’t been inducted into the Hall of Fame – and Eli Manning won’t be the first.
Throughout his career, Manning was a classic pocket passer, willing to take the sack to avoid a turnover, while never caring much for personal stats and placing a higher emphasis on team success.
So for these next five years for Manning supporters, leading up to #10’s name appearing on the Hall of Fame ballot for the first time, take solace in this: Inside MetLife Stadium and the Meadowlands years before, Eli Manning was one of the greatest to ever line up under center for Big Blue.
In the NFL record books, he is not the greatest of all time, and no one would make the assertion that Manning belongs in the same conversation as Joe Montana, Dan Marino, or even his older brother as one of the best at the position -but that doesn’t mean he isn’t a Hall of Fame candidate.
In the likely event that he is not chosen as a first-ballot Hall of Famer, we still have at least five years until the real debate begins. While most fans probably know which side of the aisle they stand on in the interim, it won’t be until the selection committee officially votes on it that such debates matter.
Until then, save your energy – there’s no convincing anybody one way or the other on this issue. Either you’re a believer, or you’re not.
As for me, I fully support Manning’s future candidacy and enshrinement in Canton – regardless if that makes me unpopular outside of New York.