When Eli Manning reaches his first year of Hall of Fame eligibility, the longtime New York Giants quarterback might be a polarizing candidate. Former teammate Tiki Barber thinks it should be an open-and-shut case, however.
"He is a Hall of Famer. No doubt about it. The question about first ballot is timing because, think about the peers that he's going in around. I think he maybe has an advantage because he's not going to align with his brother Peyton, who retired a couple years before. He's not going to align with Drew Brees, who is still playing, or Tom Brady. And so, he might get fortunate because he is a Hall of Famer and coming into a class that doesn't have a quarterback waiting, you know what I mean? Like, he doesn't have a guy that is a guaranteed Hall of Famer waiting."
Barber went on strike a pragmatic tone, saying you "can probably put" Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady all ahead of Manning in an overall ranking of this generation's greatest passers.
But between Manning's two Super Bowls and what's likely to be a dearth of qualified quarterbacks when he's eligible in 2025, the 39-year-old could have a straightforward path to the Hall.
Terrell Davis' enshrinement showed Hall of Fame voters are willing to reward a player who played at a high level for only a brief time. Davis ran for 6,413 yards and 56 touchdowns through his first four years before injuries derailed his career.
Manning is at the opposite end of the spectrum in that durability and longevity were two of his strongest assets.
Four Pro Bowl appearances in 16 seasons isn't noteworthy, and he never led the league in passing yards or touchdowns, yet Manning is seventh all-time in both categories (57,023 yards, 366 touchdowns).
For many, Manning's 117-117 career record epitomized a player who was neither truly bad nor truly great. He was pretty good—albeit inconsistent—for a very long time.
Still, that will probably be enough to get him immortalized among the greatest players in NFL history.