The writing was on the wall throughout the preseason, but the Giants finally benched Eli Manning for their young rookie Daniel Jones. While he could always get another chance barring something unforeseen, many believe that Manning’s career could be over with this move. From the very beginning, he has been a non-traditional quarterback, but he’s still managed to be one of the biggest names at the position. With his career possibly over, however, is it safe to call Eli Manning a Hall of Famer?
The case against Eli Manning going to the Hall of Fame
At the top of his game, Manning did play like a Hall of Fame quarterback. However, if we are to take the good and bad together, Manning had a lot of mediocre years, as well. If he doesn’t play another game, Manning, according to Jason Owens of Yahoo! Sports will have had a 116-116 record as a quarterback.
Wins and losses are not always a good gauge, but for a quarterback, they can often show how effectively they are running an offense, and unless the defense is constantly laying an egg, he deserves some of the blame.
Owens compared this to Ben Roethlisberger, who also has two Super Bowl rings and is currently in a similar situation following an arm injury, and you can see what Manning’s disadvantage is. If Roethlisberger were to retire today, he would retire with a 144-77-1 record as a quarterback, a perennial playoff presence, and a fellow two-time Super Bowl winner.
Manning played for 14 years, so if you look at his totals they will look impressive, but one of the major knocks on him throughout his career has been his inability to consistently put together star seasons.
Instead, he has been more opportunistic. While these make for great highlights like the passes to Odell Beckham Jr. and the famous helmet catch by David Tyree, it does not make for a consistently dependable quarterback.
Manning has played just one year less than his brother, Peyton, and a comparison between the two shows how wide the difference is. With his limited skill sets, if he is given another chance, he’s not likely to have those same career-type seasons as Tom Brady or Drew Brees had in their 40s.
The case for Eli Manning going to the Hall of Fame
There are plenty of reasons to write off Eli Manning, but it cannot be denied that he had some legendary games and seasons. A quarterback’s role is to guide the offense to victory, and Eli Manning was able to do that twice.
Dan Marino is often brought up as one of the best quarterbacks of all time, but he was never able to win one ring, let alone two. If football is all about winning, should Manning be punished for not doing so in as pleasing a way as people would have liked?
While situational accomplishments are often arbitrary and limited, it cannot be ignored that Manning won his Super Bowl rings against one of the greatest quarterbacks in the history of the NFL. Not to mention, in one of those years, he prevented a perfect season in the process.
If Tom Brady is going to get credit for beating the lower-tiered competition, why can’t Manning be credited for turning on the next gear when he faces nearly-impossible opponents and wins?
The Hall of Fame has awarded many players who have put up ridiculous numbers but never been able to win. To punish Manning, hypothetically, for winning differently runs antithetical to the entire point of football. If we take his numbers, he may not be a shoo-in, but his peak cannot be denied, and he at least deserves some consideration.
Eli Manning was never going to be a typical NFL quarterback. He had a family legacy and an entrance that often put new expectations on him that were greater than most could ever succeed.
Whether or not his season-to-season production was at a Hall of Fame level, it cannot be denied he has its moments, and there are valid reasons for and against his inclusion into the Hall of Fame.