Eli Manning
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New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning will be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame when it’s all said and done, and it shouldn’t be up for debate. 

Contrary to what some outside football fans believe, New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning is a no-doubt-about-it Pro Football Hall of Famer. Many don’t believe the four-time Pro-Bowler and two-time Super Bowl champion is worthy of Canton induction, but not so fast.

The man is as worthy as so many already enshrined.

First, let’s examine his stats. Manning is seventh all-time in passing yards (55,981). He’s also eighth in touchdown passes with 360. Finally, he is ninth in game-winning drives with 37.

Then, there’s his legacy. Manning has been to four Pro-Bowls to go along with two Super Bowl victories, and two Super Bowl MVPs. More importantly, who did he beat in order to capture those two rings? The New England Patriots and quarterback Tom Brady.

The Giants defeated the 16-0 Patriots in Super Bowl 42 with a final score of 17-14. Manning led the game-winning drive with the unforgettable escape and throw to David Tyree, followed by the game-winning touchdown pass to Plaxico Burress.

 

Now, most will bring up the fact that Manning has led the NFL in interceptions three times. Well, Brett Favre holds the record for most career interceptions with 336. Certainly, no one would ever compare Manning to Favre. Nonetheless, if those who want to make the argument for interceptions with Manning, the same thing could be said about the three-time MVP and Super Bowl champion, Favre.

Another negative Eli aspect, fair or otherwise, revolves around his brother Peyton Manning. There’s no question big brother gets the nod when matched up; however, in playoff games, Eli is 8-4. Meanwhile, Peyton is 14-13. Also, Eli is 2-0 in Super Bowls with two Super Bowl MVPs. Peyton, however, is 2-2 in Super Bowls with only one Super Bowl MVP.

No one views Manning as a transcendent talent like his brother, Brady, Favre, Johnny Unitas and John Elway. It doesn’t matter. His resume speaks for itself.

Most importantly, as it relates to Eli’s candidacy, is what’s called the “special class.” Sure, Eli ranks with the best of them in certain big-time categories. How anybody could believe seventh on the all-time passing list isn’t deserving of a Hall of Fame nod is beyond incomprehension. But the special class puts it over the top.

Joe Namath belongs to the very same special class, players who necessarily don’t dominate by way of stats, yet have performed feats worthy of induction on its own merit. Namath’s Super Bowl 3 guarantee may still mark the most influential moment in NFL history.

What were two rival leagues playing a half-meaningless game called the World Championship Game turned into the greatest spectacle and league in sports history after Namath’s New York Jets stunned the Baltimore Colts. The Kansas City Chiefs followed it up and the merger helped the NFL move into its current powerhouse state.

Manning’s remarkable two Super Bowl feats against an 18-0 team and again against the quarterback who’s captured six rings firmly places him in that critical special class.

Should he be the first ballot? No. But is he worthy of being a second or third ballot? The answer is an emphatic, “Yes.”

At best, Manning is viewed in the same breath as Troy Aikman and Teddy Bradshaw. Neither Bradshaw nor Aikman was mega-stat compilers like Brady or big-brother Peyton. However, they were greatly respected and led franchises to multiple championships.

Eli Manning is a no-doubt-about-it Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback.

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