New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning officially retired Friday, and debate is already underway about his Hall of Fame credentials.
Manning is one of just five players in NFL history to win two Super Bowl MVP’s, and his defenders will argue that means case closed on the Hall of Fame debate. However, a broader look at his career demonstrates that Manning’s case for Canton is thin. (RELATED: Eli Manning Invokes ‘Cold Beer’ Memories In His Retirement Press Conference)
While Manning orchestrated two remarkable playoff runs, he was never an elite player at his position. Never was his name mentioned alongside Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, or his brother Peyton as one of the top quarterbacks of his era. In fact, Manning led the NFL in interceptions three times in his career, but never led the league in touchdowns. There was never a season during his career where he was in contention for the league MVP, much less a winner.
While Manning’s two Super Bowl titles were iconic and forever earned him a place in football lore, his reputation as a winner and master of crunch time are both overstated. Manning had a career record of 117-117 as a starter, and concluded his career with a mundane passer rating of 84.1. Manning never won a playoff game in any season outside his 2007 and 2011 runs, and only won more than 10 games in a season three times in his career.
This is quite a contrast from elite quarterbacks of his generation such as Brady and Peyton, who won 12 games or more in the majority of their seasons as starters, and almost always had their teams in Super Bowl contention. On the other hand, Eli missed the postseason in seven of his last eight years in the league and had losing records in six of those seasons.
Despite this, the odds of Eli Manning ultimately being selected to the Hall of Fame are high. Manning comes from football royalty, played 16 years in the biggest market in the country, and is beloved by the media.
Manning is responsible for some of the most memorable moments in NFL history and will deservedly have his jersey retired by the Giants. However, he was never an elite player at his position and thus does not deserve to be in the NFL Hall of Fame.