Are Eli Manning, Joe Flacco Truly Elite?

By Westley Monell
Eli Manning
Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

Over the years, we’ve heard quarterbacks get carried away in the offseason. Confidence is one thing, using media attention for league-wide attention is another when everybody knows the reality of the situation. There aren’t too many stars like Peyton ManningTom Brady, Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers, who let their play do most of the talking. Sure, they may take a leadership role when speaking after having the accolades to back it up, and they really are the Mount Rushmore representatives of the league let alone their franchises.

We can’t let guys like Eli Manning and Joe Flacco slide anymore. At one point it was easy to shrug off their comments of being elite players; now player credibility has gone out the window. These guys really give the “no-names” or “up-and-comers” an extra obstacle to climb in terms of recognition. You know, there’s always a small group of players who go unnoticed and get passed over for the Pro Bowl and are undervalued. It’s time for a reality check, because fans should want to hear what players have to say, just not the delusional ones.

Why is it that the aforementioned quarterbacks speak highly of themselves when none of them sniffs elite status? Winning a Super Bowl is a team accomplishment. The New York Giants and Baltimore Ravens got exactly what they needed from the entire football team to hoist the Lombardi Trophy, no one can ever take that away from them. That includes Manning and Flacco rising to those occasions in hard-fought playoff games against the best of the best. That’s the ultimate credit they deserve. Both have expressed their meaningless opinions about being the best or in the top handful at the helm.

Sorry, two rings or not, that doesn’t mean Manning correlates to the best in the game. He’s led the league in interceptions three times: 20 in 2007, 25 in 2010, and 27 in 2013 (last season). Also last season, Flacco threw the second most behind Manning in 2013 with 22 picks. In 2012, Manning tossed 15 interceptions, the 10th most thrown. And in 2011, Manning 16 picks were the seventh most. In a “what have you done for me lately?” NFL and world we live in, it’s safe to say that Manning is just another guy. As far as championships go, they won a pair — which are great for New York and the Giants — and all of those are earned, no doubt about that.

Baltimore and the Ravens are in a similar situation concerning Flacco, as much of the same can be said. Yes, he hadn’t ranked in the top 10 for picks thrown before last season, but it’s not like any of these guys are racking up the yardage or lighting up scoreboards like the top guys do year in and year out. Manning has only throw for 30 touchdowns or more one time in his decade of action, something Flacco has yet to do in half a dozen years. Manning only kept his interception total in the single digits once — his rookie year when he only played in nine games. Flacco has always thrown double-digit passes to the other team.

These statements come from the divas of the defense as well. I like Richard Sherman because he doesn’t wait until after the fact; he goes out there and balls, talking before and during the matchups. The Seattle Seahawks have a different animal right there, supporting that kind of player is all a matter of opinion, but that’s why he’s a credible speaker despite misdirected notions. Seattle knows how good he is, hence the contract extension, unlike Antonio Cromartie, whom the New York Jets moved on from him this offseason, and he landed with the Arizona Cardinals. I’m excited about Arizona’s secondary, as he joins Patrick Peterson and the rehabilitating Tryann Mathieu; they’re going to be tough to pass on as a group. However, his former team chose to move on from the self-proclaimed Top 5 cornerback in Cromartie. What’s even more laughable, a current Jets corner just said the same thing. Cornerback Dee Milliner will get humbled, who is entering his second season. At least his teammate, quarterback Geno Smith, realizes the process and simply shared his goals of moving up the ranks as his career unfolds.

There’s obviously something in the water in the Big Apple, as revealed by Manning, Cromartie and Milliner. Smith’s was the most transparent and reasonable. Then there’s Flacco, supposedly the NFL’s finest.

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