The Danny Dimes era is here, and while Giants fans may be rejoicing, it also means Eli Manning’s career is all but over. Naturally, this brings about the question: Is Eli a Hall of Famer? It’s been one of the most contentious debates over the past few years while Eli’s career has been winding down, and now we’re giving our two cents.
Ben Berg: Eli Manning is absolutely a Hall-of-Fame quarterback. Look, I get that Eli has been far from perfect in his 16 years as the Giants QB1. But, the Hall of Fame is about who’s had the most success, not the least failure. That may sound confusing at first, but the bottom line is that Eli Manning has accomplished more than twice what most players could even dream of throughout his career. To start, Manning is one of only five players to ever collect multiple Super Bowl MVPs. The other guys who did that are Bart Starr (2), Terry Bradshaw (2), Joe Montana (3) and Tom Brady (4), all Hall of Famers. Add in the fact that Manning is eighth all-time in touchdowns (362), seventh all-time in passing yards (56,537), and sixth all-time in completions (4,860), and it becomes impossible to deny Eli’s body of work. He’s orchestrated 37 game-winning drives. At the end of the day, Manning’s best ability has been availability. Until he was benched last week for Daniel Jones, Eli had started 232 out of a possible 233 games, including a 13-year stretch where he started 210 consecutive (second longest streak of all time). He may not have dominated every single game like Rodgers and Brees, but the body of work can’t be denied; Eli Manning is going to the Hall of Fame.
Jorge Eckardt: I’ll admit, the knee-jerk reaction is to say, “Of course Eli Manning is a Hall of Famer, he’s won two Super Bowls!” Really though, Eli is no more than a slightly above-average quarterback who has been fortunate to not only never face a major injury in his career but land in an organization that let him keep playing for years longer than he should have. To put it simply, Eli is an accumulator. Aside from his rookie year, Eli has missed only one start in his entire career up until last week, which was the infamous Geno Smith benching game, letting him rack up the yards and touchdowns. And while yes, longevity is something that is very impressive, it alone should not cement someone as a Hall of Famer. A player has to spend a large portion of his career as one of the best in the league at his position as well, and he needs both the longevity and dominance to be a Hall of Famer. Mike Vick was dominant, but he just didn’t have the longevity. Eli has the longevity, but he just wasn’t dominant. Neither one of them is a Hall-of-Famer. Eli has a career passer rating of 84.1, which is tied for No. 41 on the All-Time list — tied with Joe Flacco. Some QBs ahead of him on the list include Sam Bradford, Jay Cutler and Ryan Tannehill. As for the QBs he’s forever linked to, Philip Rivers and Ben Roethlisberger, they rank No. 9 and No. 12 on the all-time list respectively. Don’t get me wrong, passer rating is far from a perfect statistic and plenty of other things need to be considered when evaluating someone, but it gives a good approximation of how good a quarterback really is. Sure, you can find some Hall of Fame quarterbacks lower than Eli on the list, but very few of them played in the NFL even in the 90s and many of them had their careers end in the 70s or even earlier. If Eli made it, he would be the lowest quarterback on the list who started his career in the 2000s, and it’s not even close.
Berg: You and I seem to disagree about what makes someone worthy of the Hall of Fame. Look at it like this: The Hall of Fame is a selection of special players who comprise a picture of the history of the NFL for their respective eras. How could a picture of the NFL from 2004 to now possibly be complete without a two-time Super Bowl MVP? I know there have been some QB’s who have won the big game and it seems like a fluke (you mentioned Joe Flacco). But, to do it twice, particularly against the greatest dynasty in the history of sports, couldn’t be a fluke. People also often talk about Eli as if he is the only QB to benefit from a great defense, as if Tom Brady hasn’t had a top-10 defense in 16 out of 18 of his NFL seasons (and all of his Super Bowl runs). At the end of the day though, Eli’s greatness has a lot more to do with his intangibles than his raw statistics. His clutchness, his leadership, his poise, his toughness on the field and in dealing with the ruthless New York media all contribute to his special legacy. I would also like to point out that Michael Vick not being in the Hall of Fame has much more to do with his off-field behavior than his actual playing career, so he’s not really a comparable player here. Eli Manning is getting into the Hall-of-Fame. The only question is when.
Eckardt: The Hall of Fame is a celebration of football excellence. So what he has two Super Bowl MVPs? He only has them because you can’t give the award to an entire defense (I know the Giants’ defense throughout the regular seasons were questionable but in the playoffs they were lockdown). Whether you can tell the story of the NFL with or without a player should be irrelevant. You can’t tell the story of the NFL without backup QB Nick Foles coming in and beating that same “greatest dynasty,” but does that make him a Hall of Famer? Absolutely not, because he was never a great quarterback throughout his career, he just had a miracle run. Yes, Eli had two miracle runs, but that shouldn’t be enough to overlook the fact that in the other 12 plus years he didn’t win the Super Bowl he was nothing more than average. You can’t tell the story of the last 20 years without Eli, the last 10 without Cam Newton, the last five without Colin Kaepernick and 2019 without Gardner Minshew, but that shouldn’t qualify any of them for the Hall. Like I’ve said, the Hall of Fame is a celebration of football excellence, and Eli certainly wasn’t excellent. A lot of the times, he wasn’t even good. You can’t put someone in the Hall of Fame just because of one or two moments while ignoring the rest of his career. If we can do that, then let’s just put Santonio Holmes in for the tiptoe catch, Jacoby Jones in for his 109-yard kick return TD and Malcolm Butler in for his pick. You can’t just ignore Eli’s career stats like you’re trying to do, and they don’t stack up to the competition.
Ben Berg is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at email@example.com.
Jorge Eckardt is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at Jorge.firstname.lastname@example.org. He tweets @jorge_eckardt31