Eli Manning: Worth Every Penny

Matt BertramCorrespondent IJuly 23, 2009

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ -  JANUARY 11:  Eli Manning #10 of the New York Giants looks on against the Philadelphia Eagles during the NFC Divisional Playoff Game on January 11, 2009 at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  The Eagles defeated the Giants 23 -11. (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)

It is only a matter of time before quarterback of the New York Giants, Eli Manning, most likely becomes the highest paid player in NFL history with his new contract extension looming (rumor has it, Manning is looking to sign a deal in the range of $120 million dollars).

The question many Giants fans are asking is: Does he deserve it?

And to put it simply, yes, he absolutely does.

Eli Manning has always received harsh criticism from the media in the Big Apple and fans throughout the country for his sometimes less-than-stellar performances. That's the price you pay when you ask to be traded to the media capital of the world!

That said, Manning's calm demeanor and "aw shucks" expressions represent the kind of personality needed to lead the New York Giants. Statistically, Eli doesn't compare favorably to the other star quarterbacks from his draft class, Ben Roethlisberger and Phillip Rivers. 

There are a few reasons why this is the case. For one, Manning plays in the toughest division in the NFL, the NFC East. The other three teams that comprise the division, the Cowboys, Eagles and Redskins, always seem to be in the conversation of being playoff contenders each year.

This year especially, every team in the division looks like it will have an elite defense, or at least on paper.

Secondly, Eli Manning doesn't need to put up gaudy numbers for his team to win games because of their dominance on defense and run-oriented offense.

When you have a three-headed monster in running backs Brandon Jacobs, Ahmad Bradshaw and Danny Ware tearing up yardage on the ground, there is much less pressure on the quarterback to have to put up huge numbers to win a game.

Last season, Manning had the best statistical season of his career. 

He threw for 21 TD's, had a completion percentage of 60.3 percent, threw only 10 interceptions and had an average quarterback rating of 86.4.

Not too shabby at all.

But even despite all of his accomplishments such as taking his team to the playoffs each year that he has been a full-time starter, putting together the greatest two-minute drill ever seen in the waning moments of Super Bowl XLII to conquer the Patriots, earning a Super Bowl MVP, and being a Pro-Bowler, Eli still garners more criticism than praise. 

That might also be because of who his older brother is, Peyton Manning, longtime quarterback of the Indianapolis Colts

To compare them is unfair: They play for different teams, in different divisions and run different offenses. 

Don't get me wrong, Peyton Manning will be a sure-fire first-ballot Hall of Famer when he finally decides to hang up the cleats and call it a career, but he and his brother are unique in the ways they quarterback their teams. 

Giants fans know what Eli is capable of and have witnessed it themselves firsthand. 

Is he the best quarterback in the league? 

Not even close, but it doesn't matter. He is the face of the franchise now and will be for several years to come. And I have a hunch, he'd love more than anything to add a championship ring to his other hand. 

Manning lost some weapons this offseason with the departure of receivers Amani Toomer and Plaxico Burress, but that should only motivate him to prove to the naysayers that he can win even without a star at wideout. 

Don't look at statistics, look at what he has done for us on the field Giants fans. 

When all is said and done, we will be having the last laugh.


The latest in the sports world, emailed daily.