In the wake of his second Super Bowl victory, there was much discussion about how Eli Manning’s legacy would be viewed. Analysts discussed in great detail whether or not the New York Giants quarterback would be destined for the Hall of Fame.
So far, there have been two sides of the argument. One side states that he won two Super Bowls while facing teams headed by a Hall of Fame quarterback. In contrast, another side says that his inconsistency and his—by modern standards—pedestrian completion percentage make him a good quarterback, but not a great quarterback.
His two championships are inarguable, but is the stat argument– the one that many of his detractors use–valid?
There are 23 quarterbacks currently in the Hall of Fame: Troy Aikman, John Elway, Dan Marino, Dan Fouts, Johnny Unitas, Joe Montana, Steve Young, Warren Moon, Terry Bradshaw, Len Dawson, Jim Kelly, Sonny Jurgensen, George Blanda, Roger Staubach, Bobby Layne, Joe Namath, Bart Starr, Fran Tarkenton, Y.A Tittle, Norm Van Brocklin, Bobby Waterfield, Otto Graham, and Bob Griese.
Between these 23 legends, their yearly statistical average was approximately: 15 TDs, 2243 Yards, and 56.2% completion
While these players’ careers span across eras, and the passing game didn’t truly develop in some of the older player’s time, the yearly average of all Hall of Fame quarterbacks is easily comparable to Manning’s yearly averages. The current Big Blue passer—after nine seasons—is passing for 23 TDs per year, 3,503 yards per year, and has a career 58.6% completion.
If one looks at the historical precedent set by the 23 quarterbacks that could eventually be joined in the Canton fraternity by the younger Manning, it is clear that the latter’s numbers easily trump those of the Hall of Fame yearly average.
But, since the game has evolved—and with it, the passing game—it is necessary to assess the numbers of Manning’s contemporaries, who are the elite quarterbacks that will most likely gain entrance to Canton after their retirement. The quarterbacks on this list are: Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, and Brett Favre.
The yearly averages for the five aforementioned quarterbacks are approximately: 28 TDs, 3,819 Yards, and 64.5 % completion.
While Manning’s numbers are lesser than the average set by all five of these quarterbacks, his yearly yardage average—3,503—is within a hundred yards of Favre, who has 3,592 yards per year, and is greater than Brady’s at 3,446 yards per year.
While Manning’s career completion percentage is less than his contemporaries by a sizable amount, his total of two Super Bowl rings is only bested by Brady’s three. The elder Manning, Favre, Brees, and Rodgers all have one each.
Finally, when assessing the subject of career wins, Manning has 78 which is a number that will most likely pass Hall of Famers Fouts and Staubach, in the near future. These players have 86 and 85 wins, respectively.
Manning has been criticized for much of his career as the lesser of the two Manning brothers. However, his stats are underrated and his two Super Bowl victories are measurable to players who are in the Hall of Fame. Moreover, while his completion percentage is below the contemporary average, his yearly passing touchdown and his passing yardage averages are both comparable.