Back when the New York Giants upset the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl, again, people were quick to call to question the Hall of Fame credentials of Eli Manning. He had just won his second Super Bowl and second Super Bowl MVP, an honor achieved by only five quarterbacks. Three of the four—Terry Bradshaw, Joe Montana, Bart Starr—are in the Hall of Fame and the fourth, Tom Brady, is on his way there.
At the time, Phil Simms came out and said Manning deserved to be in the Hall of Fame when his career ended.
“Here we were five years ago—before the Giants won their first Super Bowl—and all the talk that year was maybe the Giants need to bring another quarterback in and Tom Coughlin’s in trouble,” Simms said. ”Now they both absolutely one day will go in the Hall of Fame.”
I agreed at the time. Given his progression, numbers, ability in the clutch and his two rings, Manning certainly had earned the right to be called a future Hall of Famer.
Here we are in the same calender year, and people are questioning Manning’s ability again. He is marred in the worst slump of his career. He’s gone 99 pass attempts without throwing a touchdown—the longest streak of his career. He hasn’t thrown a touchdown since Week 7 against the Washington Redskins.
In response to this slump, Simms now says Manning is not an elite quarterback.
“No, he is not one of the elites,” Simms said. “Because when I hear the word elite, I’m thinking about guys that can make unbelievable plays on the field by themselves. There are very few quarterbacks in that category. So yes, Eli has been a tremendous team player. He has been MVP of the Super Bowl twice. I know that. But the way I look at it, the answer is no.”
Clearly Simms is a prisoner of the moment. His original statement about Manning was made in August. So, three months later, Simms forgot all the things that made Manning Hall of Fame worthy? He clarified his statements today.
“When I hear the word elite, I’m thinking about guys that can make unbelievable plays on the field by themselves. There are very few quarterbacks in that category. You know, it makes headlines, but we’re splitting hairs here,” Simms said. “I get it asked all the time, ‘Is so-and-so elite?’ And I go ‘Oh my gosh, please, somebody stick a needle in my eye.’ I’m just tired of answering it and hearing it.”
I guess Simms forgot all the miraculous fourth quarter comebacks in the past couple of years, and the two “unbelievable” plays Manning made in the Super Bowl.
I love Phil Simms. He was a great player and will always be remembered for bringing the Giants their first Super Bowl, but I’ve never been a fan of him as a commentator or analyst. This latest run of comments are part of the reason.
Manning may be in a slump, but it’s not just him. The entire offense is playing poorly. He’s still a top five quarterback in my eyes, and will look to prove the doubters wrong once again when the Giants come off their bye.