The Last BELIevers

Since 1998, the Manning siblings have frequently found themselves in the limelight. However, their 22-season stay seems to be coming to an end as reports indicate that today will be the last game Eli puts his helmet on for. At the very least, it will likely be his final time wearing the famous “NY”, the letters that have adorned his head for his entire career.

In recent years the fanbase has turned on him, seemingly criticizing his every move, however Manning has shown time and again why fans have every reason to bELIeve in him. From his shining moments to his abysmal performances, let’s examine Eli’s legendary status and why he deserves a spot in the Hall of Fame. 

First, let us recognize the irrelevance of using a quarterback’s, or any player’s, win-loss record for measuring their greatness. Teams require many functional and co-dependent factors to succeed, from offensive lines and running backs to cornerbacks and safeties, and no single player, no matter their position, can win or lose a team the game.

In the case of Eli Manning, he has suffered behind a miserable offensive-line for five years now being forced to release the ball before he’s ready. Additionally, the old days of an intimidating Big Blue Defense have long since passed. For the past five years, the team has ranked in the bottom 10 for most points given up per game 4 times and the bottom 10 for most yards given per game every time.

Clearly, this Giants defense has had significant trouble staving off opposing offenses. By consistently letting other teams rack up the points and yards, the Giants already start at a significant disadvantage. This disadvantage clearly makes them more likely to lose, only further proving why using a win-loss record to evaluate a quarterback’s caliber is flawed. 

Another, irrelevant, statistic is frequently tossed around when arguing against why Eli Manning should be in the Hall of Fame: his touchdown-to-interception ratio. However, this ratio doesn’t mean much as quarterbacks with a longer tenure tend to throw more passes, thereby raising the chances for interceptions. Examining some other Hall of Famers quickly dismisses the argument against Eli’s ratio.

As a quick note, Eli has thrown 366 touchdowns and 244 interceptions, leading to a ratio of 1.5:1. Multiple all-time greats, quite literally as some of these players made the all-time top 10, have very comparable ratios to that of Eli Manning. Joe Montana produced quite the higher ratio, 1.96:1, with 273 touchdowns and only 139 interceptions, but it isn’t substantially higher than that of Eli’s. Dan Marino threw 420 touchdowns in his career and 257 interceptions for a 1.67:1 ratio.

The great Brett Favre threw 508 touchdowns during his time with league, as well as 336 interceptions producing a 1.51:1 ratio, only marginally better than that of Manning’s. Lastly, Hall of Famer Troy Aikman threw 165 touchdowns accompanied by 141 interceptions, equating to a 1.17:1 TD:INT ratio, quite lower than Eli Manning’s. If quarterbacks were to be evaluated on this metric, then this would actually fall into an argument FOR Eli’s induction as his ratio falls in-line with, and even above, some of the greats.

As for why Eli Manning should be a Hall of Famer, it’s extremely simple. Throughout his extensive career, Manning has amassed a total of 125 wins. While that number may seem surprising, it’s important to put it in context. Manning has more wins than Roger Staubach (95), Troy Aikman (105), Terry Bradshaw (121), and Steve Young (102) . Though, as noted earlier, wins aren’t the best metric to measure a quarterback’s quality.

Seemingly unbeknownst to and disregarded by many is Eli’s ranking among quarterback records. Eli Manning is ranked 7th all-time in passing touchdowns, with 366, throwing more than John Elway (300), Johnny Unitas (290), and Joe Montana (273) to name a few. While tenure has certainly helped Manning reach this spot, his ability has obviously had a significant impact and he couldn’t have reached the top 10 purely because of the length of his career.

The same holds true for his standing in all-time passing yards, where he also ranks 7th clocking in at 57,023 yards. In this category, he still outranks Montana, Elway, and Unitas, with many more on that list. Despite the decline in talent that Eli has demonstrated, he still proved that he can bring it throwing for 283 yards and 2 touchdowns against Miami two weeks ago, and 203 yards and 2 touchdowns against the Eagles one game prior to that. A further note, during his game against the Dolphins, Eli completed 20 of his 28 passes for a completion percentage of 71.4.

To add onto to Eli Manning’s already decorated career, he traveled to the Super Bowl twice, slipping into the playoffs as a wildcard team both times, and then went on to topple the heavily favored New England Patriots both times, ending the Patriots quest for the perfect season. Finally, as if Manning has yet to enough to secure his spot as a Hall of Famer, he won the Super Bowl MVP award both times.

No matter how you feel about the Giants, or Eli Manning specifically, his talent and accolades are undeniable. He clearly has declined in recent years, and the conclusion of his career is fast approaching, but he undoubtedly deserves a golden jacket. From a lifelong Giant fan to a lifelong Giant, thank you Eli, for everything. Five years can’t come soon enough, see you in Canton!