By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston

BOSTON (CBS) — Eli Manning got benched on Tuesday. Can you believe it?

Surely, if you’ve watched him play in recent years, and if you’ve watched the Giants spend the last two-plus years circling the drain, you can believe it. Since the start of the 2017 season, Manning’s thrown 42 touchdowns and 26 interceptions. And while he’s been far from the only culprit, the Giants are 8-25 in his last 33 starts.

After the Giants drafted Daniel Jones with the sixth overall pick of April’s draft, and after Eli got off to a most meh beginning to the 2019 season, it was only a matter of time before Madden Create-A-Coach Pat Shurmur sent Eli to the bench in favor of the rookie out of (checks notes) … Duke?

OK, Duke, whatever. The Giants are all in on Jones, who looked awesome in the preseason. That’s their prerogative. Maybe they’ll end up looking like geniuses. Maybe they’ll end up looking like most teams look when they buy in to a quarterback. Maybe their problems extend much further than the quarterback position. Who knows.

That’s not what we’re talking about today. What we’re talking about today is what everyone else is talking about today, and that’s the debate over whether or not Eli Manning is a Hall of Famer.

This is a most foolish debate.

Of course Eli Manning is a Hall of Famer.

Here’s the thing with the Hall of Fame: It’s subjective. Deeply so. Joe Namath is in the Hall of Fame despite throwing more interceptions than touchdowns and despite losing more games than he won. He’s in the Hall of Fame because of his impact and his place in football history. Same with Bob Griese, who led the NFL in a passing category exactly twice (touchdowns in 1977, completion percentage in 1978) but nevertheless has a bust in Canton for his two Super Bowl wins and his role in the undefeated 1972 season. (He had a total of 161 passing yards, one touchdown, and one interception in those two Super Bowl wins.)

Jeez, even Kurt Warner, who lost his job in St. Louis (to Marc Bulger), lost his job in New York (to Eli), and lost his job in Arizona (to both Josh McCown and Matt Leinart) is in the Hall of Fame, because he has a great back story and because he won a Super Bowl and came close to winning two more.

Suffice it to say, quarterbacking a wild-card team to a Super Bowl victory over a team that was on the brink of going 19-0 would kind of guarantee that Manning owns a few pages in those theoretical football history books, don’t you think?

And considering Eli was at the helm when the Giants again took down the most dominant dynasty in football history in yet another Super Bowl, Eli and the Giants will probably get their own chapter.

For quarterbacks, making the Hall of Fame is not necessarily about being the very best in the world. It’s more about being somebody whom the voters want to enshrine.

A quarterback with two Super Bowl wins against Bill Belichick and the Patriots, with the last name Manning on his back? That’s somebody whom the voters want to put in.

Even putting aside those two Super Bowl MVPs, Manning has the volume stats that will justify his enshrinement to most voters. In the all-time passing record books, Manning ranks:

–Seventh in passing yards
–Eighth in touchdown passes
–14th in interceptions (hey that’s a cheap shot)

Add in his dynamite postseason runs of 2007 and 2011 — when he completed over 63 percent of his passes for 2,073 yards with 15 touchdowns and two interceptions across eight playoff games — and Manning’s resume stacks up or is better than a good chunk of Hall of Fame quarterbacks.

Of course, the explosion in passing stats in this era must be accounted for, as the likes of Matt Ryan, Matthew Stafford and Joe Flacco will all finish their careers comfortably inside the top 20 of all-time passing yards. Ryan will even jump into the top 10 by season’s end. Surely, none of those quarterbacks will be enshrined in Canton.

You could sit here and point to any number of Eli Manning stats to make the case that he’s not a Hall of Famer. He’s 116-116 as a starting quarterback, and he only made the playoffs in six of his 14 full seasons as a starting quarterback. He’s never led the league in completions, passing yards, or touchdowns; he has led the league in interceptions three times. He has zero All-Pros and just four Pro Bowls to his name. He has the 45th-best passer rating in history, worse than Flacco, Bulger, Sam Bradford, Jay Cutler, Donovan McNabb, Case Keenum, David Garrard, Trent Green, Ryan Tannehill, Jameis Winston, Alex Smith, Derek Carr, and Chad Pennington.

Objectively, you’d have a strong case. None of that is Hall of Fame material — in a vacuum.

But life isn’t lived in a vacuum. A quarterback who plays in New York City for his entire career, earning two Super Bowl MVPs against the Patriots while wearing the surname of football royalty on his back? He will be busted up in Canton as soon as the rules will allow. To spend any time debating anything different is a tremendous waste of time.

You can email Michael Hurley or find him on Twitter @michaelFhurley.

Comments (15)

Leave a Reply