On Tuesday, ESPN Radio’s Michael Kay asked New York Giant’s quarterback Eli Manning if he was an “elite quarterback” and if he was in the “Tom Brady class.”
After pausing for a very short time, Manning responded confidently, and his improvised response has received considerable scrutiny in New York today.
“Yeah,” an unusually talkative Manning said. “I consider myself in that class and Tom Brady is a great quarterback, he’s a great player and what you’ve seen with him is he’s gotten better every year.
"He started off winning championships and I think he’s a better quarterback now than what he was, in all honesty, when he was winning all those championships.”
An impromptu poll on ESPN.com today asked fans if they believed Manning, who considers himself a top-10 quarterback, is in the same class as Tom Brady.
With more than 50,000 votes this evening, fans disagreed with Manning, as an 83 percent majority stated that the two are not in the same class.
Kay’s phrasing of what he later said he believed was a “throw away” question, was unfortunate. He did not ask Manning if he believed he was as good or better than Brady but instead invoked an intentionally ambiguous verbal riddle in a loaded question that has subsequently sparked significant controversy.
The crux of the question comes down to the determination of what the word “class” actually means. Certainly, no one would concede that Manning, in his still short seven-year career, could be considered of the same caliber of Brady, a sure-fire Hall of Fame quarterback, three-time Super Bowl champion and two-time Super Bowl MVP.
But in his still young career, Manning’s accolades are not to be discredited. No one will forget Manning’s magical 2007 run, winning four games on the road while going muzzle to muzzle with the likes of Tony Romo, Brett Favre and yes, Tom Brady.
The Giants quarterback has thrown for 156 TD passes while maintaining a career 58 percent completion percentage. But more importantly, he is the only quarterback in Super Bowl history to lead a game-winning touchdown drive which concluded with a touchdown pass, all at the expense of Tom Brady, who apparently studies in a different “class.”
And remember, had Plaxico Burress not shot himself in the leg (literally), the Giants were posed to make another serious run at a Super Bowl in 2008 (the Giants were 10-1 before Burress shot himself in week 12).
However ambiguous the term may be, Manning must be considered in the same “class” as Brady. In the fourth year of his young career, he proved not only that he could play with Brady on the biggest stage, but he outperformed him, earning Super Bowl MVP honors.
So is Eli Manning Tom Brady? No, certainly not. But what’s a class? And what’s the big deal?
He’s one of six active quarterbacks with a Super Bowl ring, so yes, he can sit in the same “class.” Whatever that means.