Faria's Focus: Eli Manning, Hall of Fame or Dud?
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily express those of the Hofstra Chronicle.
The National Football Conference (NFC) East has seen its fair share of Hall of Fame quarterbacks. From Captain America Roger Staubach to the incredibly accurate Phil Simms and even Norm Van Brocklin, the NFL’s most successful and toughest division has seen some of the greatest quarterback play in its history. In the modern time period, names like Donovan McNabb, Tony Romo and Eli Manning have dominated the discussion. But while Manning nears the twilight of his career, there are many in the sports world that believe the Ole Miss product will eventually make his last stop in Canton, Ohio in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Make no mistake, if Manning were to get into the Hall of Fame, after the career he has had, it very well may be the biggest indictment on the Hall of Fame in Pro Football history.
This will upset many New York Giant fans, but the fact of the matter is that Manning’s only statistic that gives him Hall of Fame credentials is his two Super Bowl wins against the New England Patriots. He is currently 6th all-time in passing yards and attempts in a modern game that protects the quarterback above all else.
Manning’s success in the postseason in 2007 and 2011 is highlighted with two monumental wins against the distinct power in the NFL at the time. Even with those wins, one has to sit and ask, what else has Manning done in his career to put his name among the all-time greats? The answer is plain and simple: nothing.
Consider this, only three Hall of Fame quarterbacks have led the league in interceptions more than once: Warren Moon (2), Brett Favre (3) and Joe Namath (2). Manning has led the league in interceptions for a single season three times. So what separates Manning from those three Hall of Famers? Well the numbers speak for themselves. Manning has been to four Pro Bowls. Warren Moon has been to nine, Namath has been to five and Favre has been to 11. Warren Moon was named the Associated Press Offensive Player of the Year in 1990 and led the league in yards passing twice and touchdowns once. Namath was named the AFL Player of the Year three times in his career. As for Farve? Well, he was a three-time NFL MVP, three First-Team All-Pro and led the league in passing yards and touchdowns five times. Sweet Manning has been to the Pro Bowl a measly four times, has never led the league in any passing statistic (other than interceptions) and does not have a single regular season award. Where is the argument here?
Now you may say, “But Nick, you can’t just overlook his postseason success. Two titles and MVP’s over Brady cannot be overlooked.”
Sure, if you want to go that route, Manning’s two Title performances were huge. In any other career, we are looking at those numbers as the precursor to a clear Hall of Fame candidacy. But let’s actually go in depth on those playoff runs. Manning has played in 12 playoff games in career. Outside of those two Super Bowl runs in ‘07 and ‘11 he has never won a playoff game. He is 0-4 in non-Super Bowl winning seasons.
Finally, we have to actually look at what Manning did during those playoff runs. Everyone knows about the Giants stellar defense during those runs. The front four made life miserable for Brady and were the reason the Giants won in ‘07 and ‘11. Manning, however, hasn’t lived up to the postseason bargain. In those 12 career playoff games, he has completed less than 60% of his passes in seven of the 12 games. Think about that. Manning is so pedestrian in the postseason, but due to his defense being a top unit in the league, he rides them to a Super Bowl. Now people may argue that it doesn’t matter what a player does in the regular season, only in the postseason. I will ask those people and give an example of the hypocrisy of that statement. Patriots running back James White is a two-time Super Bowl winner. He could have won the Super Bowl MVP in Super Bowl 51 (14 catches, 110 yards receiving, 30 yards rushing, three touchdowns). He is also tied for the most touchdowns scored in the Super Bowl in the game’s history with Jerry Rice, White has never even rushed for over 600 yards. Is White a Hall of Famer? Absolutely not. So why would Manning be in that discussion?
Whether it be regular season futility, postseason struggles or just a complete lack of ability, Eli Manning’s Hall of Fame candidacy is as laughable as his performance in the last two years. Could it change with another Super Bowl win? Sure. Are the Giants going to win another Super Bowl with Manning as the quarterback? Unlikely. So, Giants fans, while another lackluster start to the season plagues the roster, look no further than your “Super Bowl MVP” quarterback. There’s only one conclusion on Manning’s career: he doesn’t belong in Canton’s esteemed group any more than his father did.
Photo courtesy of Jim McIsaac/Newsday