Andrew Zerman is a sophomore English major. He is a staff writer for the Newswire from Cleveland, Ohio.
A major chapter of the New York Giants’ story closed on Jan. 24 as quarterback Eli Manning announced his retirement from the NFL. Unlike his brother Peyton Manning, whether Eli Manning deserves a Hall of Fame nod has been widely debated.
Those who are on the affirmative cite his two Super Bowl rings, his consistency and his more favorable numbers. Those on the opposing side cite his career record and numbers such as interceptions. I argue for the affirmative, as I think that the highlights of his career transcend any of his weaknesses.
The numbers say “yes” to Manning’s Hall of Fame induction. He is in the top 10 of all-time for both career passing touchdowns (366) and career passing yards (57,023). He also ranks seventh in both categories, and everyone ahead of him on both of those lists has played more seasons.
Most of the players in the top ten of those categories are not eligible for the Hall of Fame yet. But those who are eligible (Dan Marino, Brett Favre and Fran Tarkenton) have all been inducted. He is also one of just 12 quarterbacks to win multiple Super Bowls, and all eight who are eligible are in the Hall of Fame with the exception of one.
The flip side of his stats are his career 116-116 record and his 244 career interceptions, which places him twelfth on the all-time list. Interceptions are not correlated with a lack of greatness, however, as Brett Favre tops that list with more than 100 more interceptions than Manning. His brother Peyton Manning also tops Eli Manning on that list in addition to Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Marino. His .500 record is not impressive by any stretch of the imagination either, but a single player is not responsible for wins in the game of football. Teams such as the New England Patriots are able to contend for so long because of their depth, not solely because of their quarterback.
In the last two decades, the Patriots have posed a problem for the league, as they have Bill Belichick, arguably the greatest coach of all time and Tom Brady, the greatest quarterback of all time. They have won six Super Bowls since 2001, and it easily could have been eight had it not been for Manning’s late game heroics.
Manning orchestrated a drive at the end of the 2008 Super Bowl that denied the Patriots a perfect 19-0 season. Three years later he defeated the Patriots on the big stage again, having also dethroned the then 15-1 Packers earlier in that same postseason. Manning achieved the seemingly impossible: He slayed the dragon of the NFL twice, and in the Super Bowl no less.
There are quarterbacks who have done far less in the Hall of Fame and we may never see a Cinderella story like Manning’s again: That alone warrants a Hall of Fame spot.
While many remain stuck believing that Manning hasn’t earned his spot in the Hall of Fame, I can say with great confidence that he will leave a lasting legacy as soon as he becomes eligible.