With one coach being fired, one running out of contract years, three new coaches being appointed in the NFC East this month, new staffs being hired, and questions swirling in Dallas about how or if they will re-sign all their pending free agents, a retirement of a backup quarterback in New York is easy to overlook. While it was a bit predictable given the way the last few years have gone, and not really significant news of note to Redskins fans, who, after all haven’t seen him on the field of play since 2018 anyway, Giants backup quarterback Eli Manning officially retired on Friday and thus began the debate that has gripped Giants fans on twitter, but is largely irrelevant to everyone else... does Eli Manning belong in the Pro Football Hall of Fame?
With the answer obvious to everyone aside from certain residents of the Big Apple, this question is really a non-starter, as proven in the most recent FanPulse survey, which demonstrated that, to those who know him best, only those closest to him perceive Eli to be worthy of induction at Canton.
While roughly 70% of Washington and Dallas fans resoundingly rejected the prospect of Eli as a Hall of Famer, Eagles fans were even more emphatic. Fans of the NFC East, who have no real difficulty showing appreciation for the accomplishments of their opponents, are more likely to recall Eli’s frequent “Manning faces” following an interception or his career .500 record than to bring to mind his team’s two super bowl wins.
Eli lasted a long time in the league and played in a large television market. But starting with his unseemly tantrum on draft day 2004 when he refused to play for the team that drafted him — the Chargers — because his daddy told him not to, and extending through to the end of his career when he led the Giants to five losing seasons out of his final six as a starter, Manning’s tenure in New York was highlighted by two incredible playoff runs that resulted in a pair of super bowl rings combined with a lot of mediocre football in-between.
By the way, the fans of the team that the Giants beat in those two super bowls also reject the idea that he should ever have a bust in Canton, with 81% of Patriots fans saying “No” when asked if Eli belonged in the Hall of Fame.
No one can ever take the two super bowl rings or their attendant MVP awards away from Eli Manning. Likewise, no one can now give him the all-pro honors or league MVP awards he never earned in his playing career. If playing 15 years, winning two super bowls, and being named superbowl MVP were enough to qualify a quarterback for the Hall of Fame, Jim Plunkett would be there today. Fortunately, it takes more.
Eli does have something that Jim Plunkett does not. He has the Manning name. Being the son of Archie Manning and the brother of Peyton Manning should mean something at Christmas and Thanksgiving when the dinner invitations are sent out, but it should be meaningless when invitations to Hall of Fame inductions are sent out.
Eli was a strong competitor on the field of play, and I certainly wish him well in his future, but he is not worthy of consideration for, much less induction into, the Hall of Fame. As can be seen from the survey results, to most people who aren’t Giants fans, it’s a bit silly to even ask the question.