Randy Moss, Ray Lewis, Brian Dawkins, Brian Urlacher, Bobby Beathard, Robert Brazile, Jerry Kramer and Terrell Owens, were enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame over the weekend. Does New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning deserve to join them one day?
This is a debate we have had before. I believe, though, that with the story of Manning’s career still unfolding it is a debate worth occasionally revisiting. So, let’s do that.
If you have read Big Blue View for any length of time you know that I am a Manning supporter. I believe he is the best quarterback to ever play for the Giants, and that as optimistic as anyone might be about Davis Webb or Kyle Lauletta, Manning will be missed when he is gone.
That, in case you were wondering, establishes the perspective from which I enter the fray of Manning’s future Hall of Fame candidacy.
Back, though, to the question. If I had a vote, and I had to cast that vote today, would I cast a “yes” or a “no” for Manning as a Hall of Famer?
The answer is that I would vote “no.” Sadly. Regretfully. Unfortunately. I would vote “no.”
I want to vote “yes.” I think Manning has been a Hall of Fame caliber quarterback. I just think that — if I had to vote today — I couldn’t vote “yes” in good conscience after the way the last six seasons have unfolded for Manning and the Giants.
After the 2011 season? At that point, no doubt I would have voted for Manning as a Hall of Famer. He was 30. Coming off his second Super Bowl MVP, having engineered two of the greatest upsets in Super Bowl history. He was at the height of stardom. With a potential Hall of Fame coach in Tom Coughlin and quarterback seemingly authoring a Hall of Fame career you had to think there would be more winning on the horizon. If not more super Bowl titles, at least more playoff appearances and more opportunities.
Then, the last six seasons happened.
There has been one playoff game in those six seasons — a lopsided loss. A won-loss record of 42-53 in regular-season games he has started. Three head coaches. A couple of really ugly individual seasons statistically.
It would be really easy to say, well, he’s got those two Super Bowl MVPs. He beat Tom Brady and the New England Patriots twice. He’s among the all-time leaders in many passing categories. That makes him a Hall of Famer. Maybe it does. I’m just not nearly as sure as I was after the 2011 season.
The stain of the last six years has dulled the shine on what looked after 2011 like it might be a magical, unforgettable career.
The Giants let Eli down
Manning is not a perfect quarterback. Never has been. Never will be. It’s not hard to point to bad games, bad throws, bad fumbles, bad facial expressions. With a resume spanning 14 years, there is plenty of bad to be found. Save your “Valentine’s an Eli apologist who blames everyone but the quarterback” vitriol. I know there are times when he could have better. Times when the Giants needed him to be better.
Thing is, I will always believe the Giants as an organization let Manning down far worse than he ever let them down. The franchise should have done more winning with the best quarterback it has ever had at the helm.
It has always been obvious what Manning was. He was an immobile pure pocket passer. A guy who needed a strong running game, a strong offensive line that allowed him to make plays with his arm and his mind rather than his feet, and wide receivers willing to compete for and win 50-50 balls. The Giants have always needed a strong defense, because they have rarely been built to be an offensive juggernaut.
Yet, somehow the Giants lost their way and stopped giving Manning those things.
They let the offensive line crumble, ignoring the warning signs for years before belatedly and unsuccessfully trying to patch it back together. They haven’t had a consistently dependable running game for years now. They spent the last four years in an offense that didn’t utilize Manning’s strengths — play action, especially from under center, and the vertical passing game.
Hopefully, it’s not too late
With a new GM and coach, and a new philosophy built more on the traditional pillars of run the ball, stop the run, protect the quarterback, the Giants are trying to right what has gone wrong. The question to be answered is whether or not it’s too late.
Can Manning still play at a playoff or championship-caliber level? The Giants are betting he can.
In terms of the Hall of Fame, my view is that Manning doesn’t need another Super Bowl title. There are many who believe he has already done enough, and if he doesn’t do any more his case for the Hall will be an interesting one. My view, though, is that a couple of playoff seasons, especially if they include victories in playoff games, would cement a Hall of Fame legacy for Manning.
More losing would make it even more difficult to support Manning as a potential Hall of Famer. Even if I want to.
If his career ended today, has Eli Manning done enough to be voted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame
This poll is closed