Eli Manning Has A Career Worth Remembering, Not Just Debating
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Just as soon as the news of Eli Manning’s retirement broke, debates began about whether or not he belonged in the NFL Hall of Fame.
As an insufferable New York Giants fan, and an even bigger Eli Manning fan, I am probably not the right person to convince you that he absolutely, without a doubt belongs in the Hall of Fame – what I can showcase is that the youngest Manning has a career worth remembering fondly, not just debating over.
To casual football fans, Manning seems goofy and a little dull but to Giants fans, he was everything their franchise needed and as a young football fan, he was everything I needed to become a life-long fan.
John Mara on the retirement of Eli Manning: ""For 16 seasons, Eli Manning defined what it is to be a New York Giant both on and off the field. He represented our franchise as a consummate professional with dignity and accountability."
— Ralph Vacchiano (@RVacchianoSNY) January 22, 2020
“Eventually the team and fans would learn to appreciate that, what they got was pure, unadulterated Eli,” Manning said of himself during his retirement announcement.
Pure, unadulterated Eli was a clutch quarterback, a great teammate and the face of a franchise.
The Numbers Prove Toughness
Let’s get the numbers talk out of the way so we can move onto what really matters.
Manning is 7th all-time in touchdowns, 7th all-time in passing yards and 7th all-time in passes completed. He holds two Super Bowl MVP awards (I’ll expand on that later) and is a four-time pro bowler.
Eli Manning: I choose to leave this game with only positive memories. If there are going to be endless echoes, choose the good ones.#ThankYouEli
— New York Giants (@Giants) January 24, 2020
Perhaps the most important stat of his 16 season career is that he never missed a start because of an injury despite being sacked a total of 400 times throughout his career – Manning is durable.
He sits only behind Brett Favre and Phillip Rivers for most consecutive starts with 210 between 2004 and 2017.
A Perfect Teammate
Beyond durability, he was a great teammate, proven both by the number of teammates who posted about his retirement and the reason Manning gave reporters for pushing to never miss a game.
“It’s a lot about just trying to be there for your teammates. You always saw guys playing through injuries – offensive lineman, guys that were sore and beat-up, and running backs that were sore every week but they did what they could to be there for their teammates,” Manning said.
New York Giant legend Michael Strahan praised Manning on Twitter encouraging him to “enjoy all the praise because you’ve earned it.”
— Michael Strahan (@michaelstrahan) January 23, 2020
Rich Seubert, former offensive lineman for the Giants posted on Twitter about his friend’s retirement reminding everyone that he would “run through a wall” for Manning.
— Rich Seubert (@RichSeubert69) January 22, 2020
Plenty of teammates and competitors sounded off on social media congratulating and expressing appreciation for Manning as a football player and simply as a good friend and human.
There was a trend among the former and current NFL players posting – Canton, Ohio and the NFL Hall of Fame.
1️⃣6️⃣ seasons!! Wish it wouldn’t have been so short lived #️⃣🔟! No doubt in my mind my man has tons more left in the tank, but here’s to a great HOF career!🍻…I’ll be awaiting for Eli’s call for Beer Pong 🏆. “I’ll bring the bee-ers, I’ll bring the bee-ers” (Mr. Deeda voice)😂 pic.twitter.com/CpNngWmt8Q
— Golden Tate (@ShowtimeTate) January 22, 2020
Evan Engram, Golden Tate, Justin Tuck, Victor Cruz and many more all had mention of Canton or the Hall of Fame in their posts about Manning.
— Evan Engram (@eazyengram) January 22, 2020
Another reason to argue Manning belongs in the Hall of Fame is that who knows someone’s playing ability, leadership and skill better than the people who played with and against him? No one.
The Peak: Super Bowl MVP x2
The strongest argument to Manning getting into the Hall of Fame is his two Super Bowl MVP awards, both coming after Manning led the Giants to championships over the New England Patriots dynasty.
When the team won their first Super Bowl in 2008 they were the fifth seed in the playoffs and in 2012 they were the fourth seed, both years the Patriots had a first-round bye.
Another Giant legend, Tiki Barber, went straight to Manning’s Super Bowl victories when discussing this issue on his show Tiki and Tierney.
"He's a legend and Giants fans will miss him"#EliManning Retiring on Friday
— TikiAndTierney (@TikiAndTierney) January 22, 2020
“When he won a championship that season, beating supposedly the greatest team ever assembled, the undefeated at the time, New England Patriots, he put himself on a pedestal that you could never knock him down from. People will talk to the interceptions and all the other statistical things … there is something about his story that you can’t discount and you cant marginalize,” said Barber.
On top of his two Super Bowl victories against a seemingly unstoppable dynasty, Manning is third on the list of most game-winning drives in the post-season in NFL history, coming in behind only Tom Brady and John Elway.
Eli Manning = CLUTCH 👏 pic.twitter.com/m37LKJUpag
— NFL on ESPN (@ESPNNFL) January 24, 2020
Speaking of Brady, here is what he had to say about the retirement.
Congratulations on your retirement, and a great career Eli! Not going to lie though, I wish you hadn’t won any Super Bowls.
— Tom Brady (@TomBrady) January 24, 2020
Always A Giant
As a fan of many players and sports, it seems of all my favorites, Manning is the easiest for people to poke fun at. I suppose he is an easy target (and a little goofy). One of the easiest jabs people make is the interceptions.
Yes, he threw 244 of them throughout his career, but let’s be honest, consistent dominance and greatness is boring. Who wants to see Alabama win another National Title or Tom Brady win another Super Bowl? Not many of us.
Eli Manning found David Tyree for one of the greatest plays of all time to beat the undefeated Patriots in Super Bowl XLII …
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) January 22, 2020
Sure, Manning had his lows but they only made fans appreciate the highs so much more – making those game-winning drives even sweeter.
After all, life is about how you make people feel, and Manning made Giants fans feel on top of the world for those moments.
And best of all – he was and always will be only a New York Giant.