By Jackson Sparks, Assistant Sports Editor—
This season in the NFL, New York Giants quarterback, Eli Manning made the final start of his career. The Giants won that day, defeating the Miami Dolphins 36-20 in week 15 of the 2019 season. With this win, Manning brought his all-time win/loss record to 117-117. Promising rookie quarterback, Daniel Jones, took back over the starting quarterback job after recovering from injury.
The national media has been debating whether Manning is deserving to be enshrined in Canton, Oh., as a member of the NFL Hall of Fame for several years and this .500 record serves as more ammunition to the folks who say he is under-deserving. This is blasphemy.
Is there another heroic accomplishment that rivals Eli Manning winning three-straight hard-fought games as a wild-card team in the playoffs, capping it off by out-dueling the greatest quarterback of all time on the greatest stage the NFL has to offer, and handing the 18-0 New England Patriots their first Super Bowl loss in the Tom Brady and Bill Belichick era? I say no. The story does not end there though.
In 2011, the 9-7 Giants were underwhelming but were lucky enough to finish first place in the awful NFC East. Eli once again displayed his postseason clutch gene. The Giants easily decimated the Atlanta Falcons before going on the road and winning two down to the wire games at Green Bay and at San Francisco. And who stood in their way in Super Bowl XLVI? The New England Patriots. Manning had 20 more passing yards and a quarterback rating that was 12.7 points higher than Brady.
By age 31, he had already defeated the “untouchable” Patriots twice on the grandest stage of them all. Not to mention, he was awarded Super Bowl Most Valuable Player in both instances. There are only five men in NFL History to win multiple Super Bowl MVPs. The list goes: Tom Brady, Joe Montana, Bart Starr, Terry Bradshaw, and Eli Manning. It’d be very difficult to convince me that Manning does not deserve to be in the Hall of Fame given that he is in that elite company.
In today’s world, everyone is stats obsessed. Don’t blink, because Manning has the stats to back his Hall of Fame career up too. He ranks 7th all-time in passing touchdowns (366), 7th in yards (57,023), and for those who say he isn’t a winner, 11th in wins (117). He has more wins than Bradshaw, Troy Aikman, and has the exact same amount as Montana (All Hall of Famers). It is also worth noting that he had the third-most consecutive starts ever with 210. Reliability counts for something right?
The Pro Football Hall of Fame lists its values as commitment, integrity, courage, respect, and excellence. Manning could not embody these values anymore. Not only has he elevated his game when it mattered most, been remarkably reliable, and displayed exemplary longevity; but has made an even bigger impact off the field. The 2016 recipient of the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year has been an image of charitable acts throughout his career, including funding the construction of children’s clinics.
Manning is the model of what a Hall of Famer looks like. He has excelled on and off the field and his name and bronze bust should be forever cemented in football history.