The Daniel Jones era has begun in New York. The Giants announced that Jones would be the starter for their upcoming week 3 matchup. With that, comes the benching of Eli Manning. Now that we can look on his career in the past tense (even if it is not official yet), one question stands above all. Is Eli Hall-of-Fame Worthy?
Terry Biggs – FPC Raiders Managing Editor
Mike D’Abate – FPC Patriots Managing Editor
The curious case of Eli Manning’s enshrinement into the Pro Football Hall-of-Fame is sure to be a hot topic throughout the coming days. In fact, it has already started. As with most decisions, there are pros on cons to the argument. Though his career has technically yet to reach its end, he currently sits at 56,537 passing yards with 362 touchdowns. He has thrown 241 interceptions while completing 60.3% of his passes. His 210 consecutive starts from 2004-2017 are the second-most in NFL history. Based on statistics, the argument can certainly be made.
The postseason is usually the basis for any ‘pro-Hall’ evidence on Manning’s career resume. He is one of only five players to win multiple Super Bowl MVPs, joining Tom Brady, Joe Montana, Bart Starr and Terry Bradshaw. Each of the aforementioned quarterbacks are in the Hall-of-Fame. He was the centerpiece of two impressive runs to Super Bowl Championships. Each culminated in a victory over the greatest coach-quarterback combination in NFL history, Bill Belichick and Tom Brady of the New England Patriots. However, it cannot be ignored that he did make four first-round exits in the playoffs, and missed them entirely on nine occasions.
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Manning’s career record is 116-116. He has zero All-Pro selections. Despite that, the measure of Hall-of-Fame worthiness should be the degree to which it can be said that the player in question was the best player in the game at said position. While Manning can never boast this claim in the regular season, the argument can be made that he played his position better than anyone during the 2007 and 2011 runs to the Super Bowl. Combine that with the fact that his statistics place him among the game’s greats and his candidacy seems to lean more positive than negative. He may not get there on the first ballot. However, Eli Manning will likely, and deservedly, earn a spot in Canton someday
John Vogel – FPC Saints Managing Editor
Eli Manning has had a good run in the NFL, no doubt. Since becoming a starter in 2004. he won 2 Super Bowls, threw for over 50,000 yards and has definitely been an all-time New York Giants quarterback. So much that he deserves to be remembered on the same pedestal as Phil Simms.
However, Eli is not a Hall-of-Famer. Here are the sad facts for Giants fans. Eli plays in an era where the league has shifted to a pass-happy, quarterback friendly league. 50,000 yards is going to be a milestone you need to hit, not an accomplishment of great success by the time Eli is Hall-of-Fame eligible. Eli is also currently 116-116 as a starter in the league, which is not the winning benchmark that other Hall-of-Fame quarterbacks have. Eli may have two Super Bowl rings on his hand, but he wasn’t an instrumental part of his team winning those.
Make your case
— Full Press NFL (@FPC_NFL) September 17, 2019
Kyle Senra – FPC Packers Managing Editor
To answer this question, I look to a player with similar accolades Eli. Jim Plunkett played 15 NFL seasons but he also missed a full year and a half with serious injuries. Upon returning to football and joining the Raiders, he won Comeback Player of the Year. Afterwards, like Manning, he led his team to 2 Super Bowl victories and he even managed to get a Super Bowl MVP. But that is not where the comparisons end. Neither QB ever made an All-Pro team, both have an NFL record 99-yard touchdown pass and both have led the league in interceptions. Even by leading the NFL 3 times in picks, Manning’s 3.0% career INT rate is considerably lower than Plunkett’s at 5.3%.
However, that is the only aspect where Manning has an edge. Assuming Manning does not start another game, he has a 116-116 regular-season record. Plunkett is also exactly at .500 with a 72-72 record. Eli has a career TD rate of 4.5%, just barely better than Plunkett’s 4.4%. While the argument for Manning’s Hall-of-Fame inclusion is his clutch factor in the 4th quarter and in the playoffs, the stats don’t show that much of a difference. Eli’s career 4th quarter comeback rate per game (0.12) and career game-winning drive per game (0.16) are marginally better than Plunkett’s (0.11 and 0.14 respectively). So if we are calling Eli clutch, then the same should be said of Plunkett.
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All of this to say, Jim Plunkett is not in the Hall-of-Fame. He retired in 1986, which means he has been eligible for induction since 1991. He has waited 28 years (and counting) to be enshrined. I do expect Manning will get in someday. He did, after all, take down arguably the best team in NFL history during Super Bowl XLII. Considering how similar both players are, I expect Eli Manning to at least wait long enough to get in as a Senior nomination (eligible only 25 years or later after a player retired). So is Eli Manning Fall of Fame worthy? Yes, but as part of the 2044 Class (or later). Hopefully, Plunkett is in by then as well.