Super Bowl Rings Don't Make You Elite

By Brian Neal
Eli Manning Peyton Manning
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

This is one of the topics that has really bothered me over the past several years, and it’s a debate that was just brought up again yesterday morning. On CBS‘ “The Morning Show,” of which he co-hosts, Tiki Barber, former-New York Giants running back, made the following statements.

“I remember having these conversations with people who watched Eli [Manning] in college, saying, ‘He’s good, but he’s never going to be Peyton [Manning], he’s not Peyton.’ Guess what? I think he’s better than Peyton,” Barber said. “Because of clutch. What matters in sports? It’s winning and losing. You get to the stage and what do you do? Eli’s gotten there and he’s won.”

Now, Super Bowls are obviously very important, and they are the pinnacle of the NFL, the ultimate form of bragging-rights for fans as well. However, in the discussion of who is the better player or who can be considered elite, a championship, especially in the NFL, can’t factor in too much.

It’s cliche to say that “teams win championships, not one player,” but sometimes cliches are true, and this is one of those cases.

A football game can’t be won by one great player, especially at the professional level. Many have tried and failed. If you replace Eli with Peyton on those Giants teams that had the best defensive line in football, a fantastic offensive line and a plethora of weapons at receiver and running back, and those teams would’ve still won two Super Bowls, possibly more. But in that case, instead of barely beating the New England Patriots after allowing 14 and 17 points in each game, the Giants probably would’ve won by two touchdowns with Peyton or any elite quarterback in the league today, instead of Eli.

The same could be said about Joe Flacco last year. He happened to have the best four-game stretch of his career in their Super Bowl run in which he did not throw an interception. Clearly, that is very impressive and one can never take anything away from what he did in that span. But over the course of his five-year career, he’s only had one season with a passer rating over 90.

While that means he’s had one great season so far, that doesn’t make him the best at his position, not to mention that season wasn’t even last year when the team made their great postseason run.

People need to better understand the debate of who’s elite. Just because you won a championship or even had one fantastic year, it doesn’t make you elite. To be considered for that title, one needs to be consistently dominant and indistinguishably better than every other player at their position. Because being elite isn’t the state of very good, it’s being the best. Something that neither Flacco or Eli can live up to at this point in their careers.

Just look at the elite quarterbacks in today’s game, there are four of them. Peyton, Drew Brees, Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers have being the most consistent forms of quarterback supremacy, by far, over their careers.

Peyton has 11 seasons with a passer rating over 90, four over 100; Brees has seven over 90, three over 100; Brady has seven over 90 as well, and three over 100; and in Rodgers’ short five years in which he has started, remarkably all five have been over 90, including four-straight over 100.

No other quarterbacks even come close to that, and to say that Flacco or Eli or Matt Ryan or anybody should even be considered at their truly elite level is, frankly, a joke until they do something even kind of similar. After all, Eli’s numbers at the passer rating: two over 90 and zero over 100.

The fact of the matter is that Super Bowls are kind of overrated. As a fan, you don’t enjoy anything more than watching your team win it all, but then many of them become overzealous and start to think and say stupid things that have no factual basis. This is one of those examples.

If Super Bowl wins determined your status of all-time great at quarterback, perhaps we should start talking about Trent Dilfer and Brad Johnson as Hall of Famers. I mean, “they were so spectacular in their prime and picked defenses apart,” said no one ever.

But hey, this was a fun rant. Thank you very much, Mr. Barber. I appreciate you making this a relevant topic once again. No matter how unwell-thought-out your statements were.

If you agree or disagree on the argument of who is an elite quarterback, please comment below. I’d love to tell you how you’re wrong as well.

Brian Neal is an intern at Rant Sports and mass communications major at Lewis University. Follow him on Twitter @brianneal23 and “Like” him on Facebook.

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