An interesting revelation took place in professional football last month: Eli Manning joined the ranks of elite quarterbacks.
Why is that so interesting? Well, most people would argue that he is not even the best quarterback in his own family, much less one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL.
I have never considered Eli to be anywhere near the quarterback that his brother Peyton is (or perhaps was), and I’m pretty sure that is an almost universal stance. In addition, I’ve never considered Eli’s New York Giants to be as good of a team as Peyton’s Indianapolis Colts, and I think that, too, is a pretty common perception.
Peyton is a four-time NFL MVP. He is a six-time AFC Player of the Year. He’s thrown for 4,000 yards in 11 different seasons. He is third all-time for touchdowns thrown.
He’s played on teams with Marvin Harrison, Reggie Wayne, Edgerrin James, Dallas Clark, Dwight Freeney, Robert Mathis, Antoine Bethea, Joseph Addai and Adam Vinatieri. And he was coached by one of the most respected men in all of football, Tony Dungy.
And in 13 years, Peyton has one Super Bowl ring.
Eli has a few nice records to his name, but almost nothing that would hold a candle to the work Peyton has done. And he has played alongside some talented boys in New York, like Michael Strahan, Tiki Barber, Justin Tuck, Hakeem Nicks and Jason Pierre-Paul.
But almost everyone of note who Eli has played with, he played with at the beginning or the end of their careers. Peyton got almost all of his stars in their primes.
So, how can we even compare Eli’s resume to Peyton’s? Well, in 13 years, Peyton has one Super Bowl ring. In seven, Eli has two.
Furthermore, Peyton’s biggest adversary throughout his career has been Tom Brady. In 2003 and 2004, Peyton won the League MVP award. And in both of those seasons, Brady’s New England Patriots beat the Colts in the AFC Championship Game. The Patriots then went on to win the Super Bowl both times.
How has Eli fared against his brother’s nemesis? Well, he has two Super Bowl victories against Brady and the Patriots.
Some might argue that Eli has been fortunate and has gotten to play against Brady when he was past his prime. Well, I would have to call B.S. on that. Tom Brady was the league MVP in 2007. His team was 18-0 going into the Super Bowl, and he had just broken Peyton’s record of touchdown passes in a season by throwing up 50 touchdowns of his own.
Not only was Brady NOT past his prime, he was having the best season of his career in 2007. And let’s not forget, Brady was the unanimous choice for MVP last season. So to say Brady was past his prime this season is a stretch at best.
Am I saying that Eli is better than his brother Peyton? No. Not at all.
But there have only been 11 QBs in NFL history who have won multiple Super Bowls, and Eli has joined that group. No matter how unimpressive his stats and resume look compared to his brother’s, he has joined elite company and belongs in the elite quarterback class.
It’s time we give Elisha Nelson Manning his due.
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