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Is Eli Manning a Future Hall of Famer?

Marianne O'Leary, CC BY-SA 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

Two-time Super Bowl champion Eli Manning was the quarterback of the New York Giants for 16 seasons between 2004 and 2019. In that time, he was named MVP of both Super Bowl appearances and went to four Pro Bowls. He’s remembered most for being one of just two quarterbacks to beat Tom Brady in a Super Bowl and for being the lesser of the two Manning brothers to play the quarterback position. But are his accomplishments enough to get him into the Pro Football Hall of Fame?

In the long history of the NFL, there have been several quarterbacks who have had a good amount of success while not being the best player on their team. Phil Simms immediately comes to mind. Like Manning, Simms led the Giants to two Super Bowls in an earlier incarnation of the team. Both Giants quarterbacks led teams that were anchored by great defenses. Manning played with Michael Strahan, Osi Umenyiora, and Justin Tuck. Simms played with Lawrence Taylor and Harry Carson.

Manning led the NFL in interceptions three times (2007, 2010, 2013). In the same career, he never led the league in touchdowns, quarterback rating, or any of the other flattering quarterback statistics. Likewise, Simms never led the league in touchdowns, and relied on his superior defense to put him in a position where he could manage the offense well enough for them to win games.

Career Averages Per Season

  • Manning: 14.8 games, 305.9 completions, 507.4 attempts, 22.9 touchdowns, 15.3 interceptions
  • Simms: 11.7 games, 184 completions, 331.9 attempts, 14.2 touchdowns, 11.2 interceptions

There are obviously things that draw distinctions in this statistic comparison – length of season, different standards for defensive penalties, etc. Across eras, though, Manning and Simms are both middle-of-the-road when compared to contemporaries.

Trent Dilfer won the Super Bowl in 2000, his only season with the Baltimore Ravens. The 2000 Ravens are remembered for having one of the greatest defenses in the history of the NFL. Dilfer’s job was to manage the offensive gameplan, keep mistakes at a minimum, and allow the defense to keep games winnable. He did his job well enough for the team to win a championship. Few remember him when looking back on the historic teams throughout the league timeline, but he did what he had to do.

To be fair, Manning isn’t quite Dilfer. The 2007 Super Bowl is remembered for the all-time great “helmet catch” by David Tyree after Manning escaped a New England pass rush. But when considering the totality of his career, it’s difficult to spin it in a way that leads to the Hall of Fame. He has always existed in Peyton’s shadow, which is unfair but predictable. Older brother is one of the top three or four quarterbacks in NFL history. But hey, younger brother took down the Patriots twice in the Super Bowl, so there’s that.

Brock is a Master's student in Film and Media Studies at Arizona State University and a member of the International Association of Professional Writers & Editors.

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