Why Eli Manning isn’t a Hall of Famer
Let me just preface this by saying that this piece isn’t intentionally slandering the career of Eli Manning. He has quite the resume, winning two Super Bowls against the vaunted Tom Brady and currently sits 10th all-time in passing yards and touchdowns. For these reasons, many people believe Manning is a surefire lock for the Hall of Fame. So, let’s go over why that may not be the case.
The Super Bowls
Let’s start off by addressing the one argument everyone seems to use when explaining why Manning belongs in the Hall of Fame. He won two Super Bowls — against Tom Brady, no less. While that is an incredible feat in its own right, I think giving all the credit to Manning during those runs is disingenuous to what was a very good Giants squad.
People always love to mention the Super Bowls and act as if Manning was single handily carrying these teams. That couldn’t be farther from the truth. The 2007 team was built on the back of its defense and more specifically the defensive line, which included the likes of Michael Strahan, Justin Tuck, and Osi Umenyiora. That year they ranked seventh as a defense in terms of yards allowed per game, while finishing 16th in yards and 14th in points scored as an offense.
The Giants’ magical playoff run was no different. In their three games prior to the Super Bowl, the Giants’ defense gave up 14, 17, then 20 points. To top it all off, against the No. 1 offense that year and what many people consider to be the best offense of all time, the Giants held the Patriots to 14 points.
Four years later, we saw almost the same thing. During those four playoff games, the defense gave up two, 20, and 17 points twice. Now that’s not to say that Manning didn’t play well in these games. In fact, he was rather good. But that’s it, he was merely good. He never needed to do too much on account of his defense never giving up more than 20 points over the course of their two playoff runs.
Ultimately, it bugs me when people run to give Manning all the credit and glory because of one play. The Giants’ pair of rings are more indicative of a team effort with a great coaching staff, rather than one player like Manning willing the team to victory on a weekly basis. It’s because of this that I can’t just accept the fact that Manning’s two rings should automatically get him in.
Let’s forget the rings for a second
Another reason why I can’t accept Eli Manning as a Hall of Famer is simply that he was never an “elite” quarterback. He was never the league’s best quarterback in his era, instead falling somewhere in the 8-10 range. Looking past the two rings and you’ll find an impressive career, but not one worthy of a Hall of Fame nod.
Manning’s best attribute was his durability and longevity. It allowed him to play late into his career and compile stats. I, for one, am never a fan of letting guys in who stayed around for a while and gathered a bunch of meaningless stats.
The Hall of Fame should be reserved for the players that were the best at their respective position for some portion of time. The elite of the elite, and not guys who simply played for a while. Manning was never an elite quarterback, nor was he ever really viewed as one of the best quarterbacks of his time. During his 16-year career, he never received one MVP vote and was elected to the Pro Bowl just four times.
I mean, is that really who we want in the Hall of Fame? A guy who wasn’t been picked once by a voter as the best player in the league; a guy who was considered a top-four quarterback in his conference just four times.
When you look past the two rings, you find that Eli Manning’s career isn’t too different from guys like Tony Romo or even Matthew Stafford — a pair of guys who will most likely not end up in the Hall of Fame. I would even argue that both of those guys are maybe better and have definitely shown more flashes of “dominance” than Eli ever did during his career.
What does all this mean?
I know many may disagree with me, but I simply cannot get my mind to accept Manning as a Hall of Famer. When I think of the great quarterbacks of the 2000s — Brady, Drew Brees, Peyton Manning and Aaron Rodgers — I just can’t allow myself to put him in that same tier. Those were all guys who had the ability to take a game over and will their team to victory.
Manning just never quite was on that level for me. His career record is 117-117. It’s not horrible but not great, while also illustrating Manning’s inability to be that dominant force at quarterback and take games over.
Manning was more just a very good quarterback who happened to be very durable and play for a long time. Because of that, he checks all the boxes in terms of basic counting stats. But when watching Manning plays over the course of his career it was always clear that he was just a step below the names mentioned earlier and that’s ok. Eli belongs in that Hall of very good that is often mentioned for guys on the cusp of getting in.
Despite all this, Eli Manning will most likely end up in the Hall of Fame. He won a pair of Super Bowls for the New York Giants and comes from one of the most recognizable families in the sport. Even though I disagree with it and what it stands for, that alone will almost certainly be enough for him to get in.
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