Goodbye Eli

The 2020 season will be different from the last 20 odd years in that we won’t have a Manning brother playing quarterback. Today (24th January 2020), Eli Manning will announce his retirement from football and the New York Giants.

What will follow is five further years of debate as to whether Eli will get into the Hall of Fame. The football world at large has been talking about it in the last few years as Eli’s skills, and results, have been on the decline.

At the time of retirement, Eli sits 7th in all time passing leaders with 57,023 yards some 2,000 behind fellow 2004 draft mate Phillip Rivers and about 5,000 behind Hall of Fame quaterback Dan Marino. He’s over 10,000 yards ahead of Aaron Rodgers who has been in the league a year less but sat for a number of years behind Favre. He’s also well ahead of John Elway.

Like John Elway, Eli has two Super Bowl wins, but unlike Elway, Eli has two Super Bowl MVPs. For many other quarterbacks those two facts alone would be enough to get them into the Hall of Fame. The problem with Eli is that he’s lived constantly in his brothers shadow and he’s never “dominated” the league. In the last 15 years when asked if you could have any quarterback to lead your team, would anyone ever say “Eli Manning”? Probably not, but for other names mentioned in this blog you could make a legitamate arguement.

Yet for all the stats, arguments and disagreements which we’ll all have over the next few years, Eli was consistent. He finished with a .500 record and quarterbacked the Giants in a number of seasons where the talent wasn’t great. He’s probably never raised those levels of talent like a Rodgers or a Brady. But he never got hurt, he very rarely bitched, moaned or whinged in public. He got on with his job, rarely missed a game and did a hell of a lot off the football pitch winning the Walter Payton Man of the Year award alongside Larry Fitzgerald in 2016.

So, will Eli be in the Hall of Fame – probably. And here’s why – when we look back at this period of football we will remember him. We will remember those two Super Bowl wins against dominant Patriot teams. We’ll remember his scramble and throw for the David Tyree ‘helmet catch‘ and the Mario Manningham sideline catch. Yes, those Giant teams leant heavily on their defences but through those years, Eli got the job done in big tough spots. Fame (the positive kind at least) is looking back at such moments and remembering such memories and smiling and Eli was at the centre of it during that period. Plus, he’s got some stats.

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