The Manning Debate: Eli

Arguing for Eli is almost sacrilegious, he has defeated my team in the Super Bowl twice and solidified himself, mostly after his second triumphant showing, as an ELIte, oh how I loathe that pun, quarterback in the NFL. It is also not that he was just the quarterback for the winning team but that in both games he drove his team down the field toward victory with the game clock slowly dwindling down, all while tearing out my heart and watching it’s last beats of life slow down until they come to a halt and spiking it, much like a football, to the ground while doing some weird robot interpretive dance.

Eli, the little dorky, awkward brother of Peyton, the godlike quarterback who was the poster child of the NFL. Eli, always in the shadow cast by his older brother, the multiple time MVP and pro-bowler and the gold standard for all aspiring leaders. Eli, the unsure leader of the historic New York Giants, a man who would surely be swapped out for a better player after the first couple of seasons, the man who couldn’t possibly revive a team that the New York area desperately needed to be brought back to life.

Eli, the man who proved us all wrong.

As I stated in my introductory piece to this debate, I didn’t believe in Eli. His deer in the headlights stare when the pocket collapsed around him, followed by a toss of the ball in the air, reminiscent of a three year old throwing with her less dominate hand, all while being brutally thrashed around like an elk caught in the clutches of an alligator made it hard for me to think he would be any good as an NFL quarterback. His boy next door appearance and personality made it difficult to look deep into his soul and see an enraged toddler heaping spoonfuls of pured carrots at his older brother that would show his true intensity during a game. It was clear this guy wasn’t going to make his mark on the field but rather an impressive butt groove on the far left side of the bench due to him spending most Sunday afternoons there. But then he won a Super Bowl. FLUKE! Then he won another and I had to admit I was wrong.

With success comes questions. Questions like, “is Eli one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL right now?”, “has Peyton passed the baton to his younger brother?”, “how did Eli snag that super hot wife of his?” and so on. His recent run-in with success has placed him among the greats in the game today and, when all is said and done, the best of all time.

Go quick and get some napkins for the screen, coffee stains can ruin a monitor.

Despite his lack of accolades and NFL records, one thing Peyton has an overwhelming lead over him on, Eli has an impressive resume, even if it is one that your potential boss would look over and say “ahum” a bunch of times to. It may not be well written, may even show some mistakes, but at the end of the day you’d be reluctant to hire him and lucky to have him on your team. So don’t discount him because he doesn’t have astronomical numbers, I will argue that he does, that, at the end of the day, are just that…numbers.

Although lacking in the records column Eli holds a special record that is overlooked and should gain more attention, Most Road Playoff Wins, of which he has 5. I’m going to ask you to let that set in…..nope, keep thinking about it.

It’s impressive, no matter how much you try to justify the contrary. That’s 5 games in the most hostile environment. There isn’t an empty seat in the place, these are teams looking to win the Superbowl and in the middle of winter with most of the NFC teams that make it basically playing in the frozen tundra. That’s a winner and, to me, that’s what Eli’s legacy will be, he was a winner even in the most stressful of situations. But for good measure, let’s take a peek at his career so far.

The 2011-12 season was his coming out party for sure. Eli put up numbers that even he may have been surprised he could and if it weren’t for 3 other quarterbacks throwing for 5,000 yards it probably would’ve earned him an MVP.

Yards Passed: 4,933
Touchdowns: 29
Interceptions: 16
QB Rating: 92.9
Completion %: 61.0

His journey to the upper echelon of quaterbackdom (again, trademarked) was a long and tedious one full of ups and down and symbolic of how his who life had been in the shadow of his older brother. Yet the younger Manning may end up being the better quarterback out of the two when all is over. Two Super Bowl rings, two super bowl MVP (in his first, and only, two appearances), two last minute come from behind victories and two passes that still make me wake up in the middle of the night crying.

Eli shines when the pressure is on and it doesn’t show any better than his Super Bowl winning seasons. If you showed his stats for those 8 playoff games you would, almost undoubtedly, unless you read this post first, pick a number of other quarterbacks.

2007/11 Combined: 8 games, two Super Bowl wins
Passing Yards: 2,073 (259.13 yrds/gm)
Touchdowns: 15 (1.88 td/gm)
Interceptions: 2 (.25 int/gm)

There is no doubt that the stout Giants defense helped carry them into the playoffs in both seasons. There is no doubt they played a humongous role in their two Super Bowl victories. Yet it was Eli that carried them down the field to beat, arguably, the best team in NFL history, 2007 Patriots who were 18-0 going into Super Bowl XLII, and stun the entire country to only do it again 4 seasons later in what appeared to be a re-run of the original match up.

It’s not easy to go against Peyton in the, probably not really often argued, debate of who the better is of the brothers Manning but I hope there is enough information to at least make you think, “Eli really isn’t that bad, plus he’s become less douchey”. I, for one, feel that Eli is going to get better and with Peyton declining, only because he is playing for the Broncos, his stock will rise. Eli needs to win a few regular season MVPs before most will choose him as the one Archie loves more. For now it’s a close race and Eli is closing the gap, especially with the new DirecTV ads he is starring in. IT IS ON!

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