Eli Manning and the Pro Football Hall of Fame

After 16 seasons, New York Giants quarterback, Eli Manning announced his retirement on Wednesday night. Eli had a very successful career in New York, becoming the franchise’s all-time leader in starts, wins, passing yards, and passing touchdowns. On two separate occasions, he guided the Giants to Super Bowl wins over the New England Patriots. So the question has to be asked. Is Eli Manning a Hall of Famer?

Eli Manning and the Pro Football Hall of Fame

The Argument For

Of the eligible quarterbacks, only Jim Plunkett has won multiple Super Bowls without being enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and that’s mostly because his great teams carried him. Troy Aikman never had great numbers, but he’s in the Hall because he won championships.

Not to mention, it’s not like Eli’s numbers are horrible. During his career, he was top five in passing yards, touchdowns, and game-winning drives. Eli had two incredible battles with Tom Brady in the Super Bowl, and came away victorious both times. He’s the franchise’s all-time leading passer, and the Giants were rarely bad during his prime.

The Argument Against

Since he was drafted in 2005, Eli Manning is top five in passing yardage, touchdowns, and game-winning drives, that’s true. However, only five quarterbacks started at least 200 games over that span. Philip Rivers and Tom Brady started fewer games and still managed to have more yards, more touchdowns, and fewer interceptions.

In fact, the only stat that Eli led over that span was interceptions. He has 36 more interceptions than Drew Brees, who has the second most since 2005. By default, Eli’s numbers are just adequate. During his career, he never led the league in any category but interceptions. It’s not even like he was a “winner,” as ridiculous as that label is, because he’s retiring with just as many losses as wins.

In my opinion, the Pro Football Hall of Fame has always been for the best of the best. How can you be considered a Hall of Famer if you were never in the conversation for best at your position? Because let’s be real, at any given moment, Eli was only ever really top ten.

Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, and even Brett Favre were consistently better than him. I ask you this, if Eli had a different last name, or played in a smaller market, would we even be having this conversation?

So?…

Ultimately, I don’t think he deserves to get in. In an era where even Jameis Winston throws for 5,000 yards, Eli was only ever acceptable. Sure, he won two Super Bowls, but we all know that had more to do with pass rushers like Michael Strahan and Justin Tuck. His most famous play, the helmet-catch, probably should’ve been intercepted. No, I don’t think he belongs.

But do I think he’ll get in? Probably. He won two high-profile Super Bowls, his last name is Manning, and he played in New York. In this era where we pretend quarterback is the only position that matters, Eli did just enough to cement himself among the best-known players.

And as Cliff Branch could attest to, it’s not like the most deserving players necessarily get in anyway.

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