Why Eli Manning Belongs in the Pro Football Hall of Fame
After 16 seasons, Giants quarterback Eli Manning is walking away from the only thing he’s ever known to fill his days to spend more time with his young children and pursue his philanthropic interests more full time.
On Friday, Manning will receive the mother of all retirement parties, starting with a full-scale press conference to be held in the team’steam’s much larger field house, which is better equipped to handle the anticipated crowd--an event that is expected to be attended by media, staff and lots of former teammates.
It will be a sendoff fitting for a future Hall of Fame player, and let's make no mistake about it. Manning most definitely deserves a place in Canton despite his 117-117 record, which will be addressed in a moment.
Why is Manning Hall of Fame worthy?
You can start with the two Super Bowl wins—upset victories—over the heavily favored New England Patriots, games in which he was the MVP of both. To be able to lay claim to beating Bill Belichick, himself a future Hall of Fame head coach, and the Patriots cast of characters in the stunning come-from-behind fashion the Giants engineered in both games is without question the No. 1 argument in making a case for Manning’s golden ticket to Canton.
But were it not for the heroics and performance of Manning in the playoff runs where he finished 8-4 in postseason games, we might not even be talking about the two Super Bowls, of which by the way, Manning is one of five players to be named the Super Bowl MVP (the others being Hall of Famers Joe Montana, Bart Starr and Terry Bradshaw, while Tom Brady, still active, is without question Hall of Fame-bound).
Listen: Hall of Fame voter and veteran sportswriter Gary Myers offers his thoughts on Eli Manning's Hall of Fame worthiness.
Still not convinced? Manning, who by the way holds nearly every Giants franchise passing record,
sits in the top-10—seventh to be precise—in NFL history in passing yards (57,023), touchdown passes (366), and completions (4,895).
So what about the won-loss record, which stands at 117-117 and which saw the Giants after the 2011 season, with Manning as the common denominator, go 48-67 in the games in which he was the starter?
A solid case can be made that the team’s personnel wasn’t very good. For years after that second Super Bowl, the Giants didn’t have a strong running game, the offensive line was a revolving door with its pass protection, and not until Odell Beckham showed up did the Giants have themselves a legitimate difference-maker at receiver.
You can even go so far as to argue that the Giants didn't help matters by ushering in the West Coast Offense, a system that, in retrospect, took away the things that Manning did best while asking him to make do with some of his weaknesses, such as his mobility.
And in most of the seasons between 2012-18 when Manning was predominately the starter, the Giants defense—which by the way he had nothing to do with—was just flat out bad, finishing ranked int he bottom third of the NFL in points allowed in 2014, 2015 and 2017; and in average yards per game allowed in 2012, 2014, 2015, 2017 and 2018.
Critics will also want to point out that Manning was never a big stats guy like Tony Romo, formerly of the Cowboys. But when one thinks of the Giants successful teams of the past, those teams were built on a strong running game and a strong defense, the very two ingredients those same critics have argued have been essential for teams in the northeastern part of the country to succeed.
Manning was never flashy—that just wasn’t his style. But in a team sport that relies on all 11 guys in every phase of the game, he was there, he was consistent, and he delivered what was asked of him within the context of his role, even when others around him did not.