Keidel: The Book On Eli

By Jason Keidel
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Forgive all typos, as it’s hard to write with pen or pencil, or pound the keyboard, while laughing. And I’ve been giggling spastically, as though a puppy’s tongue tickled my toes for hours, since I heard Eli Manning compare himself favorably to Tom Brady.

“Yeah, I consider myself in that [Brady’s] class,” was Eli’s precise quote on Tuesday. He moonwalked from the quote Wednesday. “It was like, what am I supposed to say? ‘No, I don’t think so?’” Manning told Mike Francesa.

When you’re not the best quarterback in your family – and Eli might be third behind Papa Archie – you’re not in Tom Brady’s class.

“Well, what do you expect him to say?” is your response, echoing Eli’s sentiment.

Well, frankly, nothing. I expect a media darling from a media-friendly family to drum up an answer in his charming, disarming drawl. “I tell ya, that’s for y’all to decide,” he should have said, thumbing his overalls. “My job is just to play the best football I can for the New York Giants.” That’s not just the proper answer; it’s the perfect answer. He pretty much said that during damage control yesterday.

Sure, you want confidence in your quarterback, and perhaps his toughest job on or off the field is to walk the whisker-thin line between hunger and hubris. But Eli Manning, more than any QB in NFL history, has been trained for such matters, from eighth grade to his eighth NFL season, with his dad and deified brother as quintessential mentors.

The statistical comparisons are laughable. Brady has 12,000 more yards, 100 more touchdowns and, despite playing three more years, has ten fewer career interceptions. Six Pro Bowls to one; three Super Bowl wins to one; 14 playoff wins to 4. In fact, Eli is 4-3 in his postseason career, and all four came during one run. So he’s never won a playoff game before or beyond the 2007 season. Yes, Eli’s one Super Bowl was at Brady’s expense, which is the only reason his comments warrant 30 seconds of consideration.

This becomes incidental if Manning and his Big Blue brethren are winning. Nothing quiets the critics like 12 wins and a deep playoff run. But if he falters, you know pinheads like myself will pounce on every ounce of the faltering quarterback, digging deep into our tape recorders and hard drives, reviving notes, quotes, and creating all kinds of chaos for a team that seems to need some kind of tangential motivation to play its hardest. Think back to the magical run in 2007, which started 0-2, with Antonio Pierce piercing halls, walls, and eardrums with an air horn in the middle of a media session.

(Side note: don’t you find it rather ironic when iconic players – who were most terse to the media – wind-up joining them? From Eric Dickerson to Michael Strahan to the aforementioned Pierce, they went from being jerks to suddenly jocular former jocks who, “always had an eye on job behind the booth after my career.”)

Peyton Manning, however, is indeed in Brady’s class and, depending on the year and the yardage, one inches ahead of the other each fall. If you had to draw straws between the two to start your fledgling franchise, getting seconds is hardly sloppy. Indeed, I consider myself lucky to have seen both men in full each fall for their entire careers, which will land each man in Canton the minute they’re eligible. They will NOT be joined by Eli Manning, whose bust may be bronzed outside the new stadium with no sponsor. Maybe even Ole Miss will make two Mannings immortalized, But the reverence ends there

Ernie Accorsi took a big risk seven years ago by trading basically his whole draft board for Eli. And since it got the team a Lombardi Trophy, you can reasonably assert that the deal was worth it. But let’s not turn the trade into hysterical hyperbole. Eli Manning has hardly made NFL secondaries his personal playground, nor has he breached the top-five active quarterbacks. And there’s the matter of his 25 interceptions last year. Brady? 4 picks.

“Eli’s a Super Bowl MVP!” you shriek. Well, so was Mark Rypien – as were Doug Williams, Desmond Howard, Dexter Jackson, Deion Branch, and Larry Brown. Manning’s stat line from Super Bowl 42 reads: 19-34, 255 YDS, 7.5 YPA, 2 TD, 1 INT, 87.3 passer rating. Even in losing Brady was just as good as Manning (29-48, 266 YDS, 1TD, 0 INT, 82.5 QB rating). But the Giants were three points better, and that’s all that matters. It was the first (and only time) I rooted for the Giants, and, I say from the deepest part of my heart, thank you. I mean that. Don Shula is not the only one who popped the bubbly after that game. Kisses and smooches forever for harpooning the perfect season.

Oddly, Sports Illustrated rates Manning’s performance in Super Bowl XLII as the tenth-best for a quarterback in the game’s history, with the caveat that it was primarily because he beat an unbeatable team, which “adds another layer of extraordinary to what was otherwise a very ordinary game.”

It’s the rare time I take odds with the greatest sports magazine in America (yes, I’m a shill because I freelance for them). That Patriots team – which indeed pancaked opponents on their way to Super Bowl XLII – was far more renowned for offense than defense, which was especially rare considering the coach, Belichick, who is considered perhaps the best defensive mind in the sport’s history. It was also a credit to him because rather than mold the team in his thematic mode – four teams surrendered fewer points than his Patriots – he fired the proper cannons in Brady and Randy Moss while asking his above-average defense to keep the enemy to about 17 points.

You can’t disregard a résumé that includes a Super Bowl MVP. But Eli’s performance was hardly hallowed. You’ll recall on that famous, final drive he heaved the ball like a pigskin prayer, and David Tyree turned Spider Man for an immortal moment, somehow wrenching the pass from several defenders, landing with the ball pinched between his hand and helmet. Eli gets much credit for extending that play, peeling off the behemoths chasing him, lurching to and fro as each paw grabbed a piece of his jersey. But without Tyree’s indomitable dexterity, there is no pass to Plaxico to win the game. And, more than any one player, it was the Giants’ defensive line that was the true vein to victory, chasing, battering, and bashing Brady all game until even the coolest QB on Earth got a little antsy in the collapsing pocket. By the fourth quarter, Brady had clear, jumpy, Jim Everett feet.

The Mannings have morphed into America’s Family. Not only was Old Man Archie a great QB in his own right, he raised two boys through the thorny portal of celebrity. And there’s no doubt that the Manning boys were blessed by rarest form of DNA serendipity, winning the richest genetic lottery in American history. But there are varied stages of evolution, and Peyton got the best gene, by far.

Trust me, it hurts to give props to Patriots, particularly Bill Belichick, the brusque, bully of a coach whose mean mien and homeless-chic wardrobe are tolerated only because he wins. But win he indeed does. And I’d rather root for Fidel Castro at quarterback than Tom Brady. But if you can whack through the histrionics, though his long locks, gaudy house and bulimic spouse (perhaps the only woman who makes more than he does), you’re looking at a legend. Brady is that good.

I wear my football heart on my sleeve, and I bleed Black & Gold, who have a damn good QB of their own, my beloved Ben Roethlisberger: the pervert nonpareil who dances just outside the long arm of Johnny Law. He’s got two rings, should have had a third last year, and still isn’t in Brady’s class. It’s Brady and Peyton Manning and everyone else takes a number.

Big Ben is better than Eli. Aaron Rodgers is better than Eli. Philip Rivers is better than Eli. Drew Brees is better than Eli.

You could make a case for Matt Ryan and, as grotesque a human as he is, Michael Vick gives more defensive coordinators ulcers than Eli, who is a true pocket passer, no more a threat to run than Wade Boggs. But for the purposes of this argument – and the fact that Eli has a ring and they don’t – I nudge Eli in front of them. Vick and Ryan need more playoff success (Vick is 2-3; Ryan is 0-2) to be seriously regarded as top-five quarterbacks. Because a football team is disproportionately dependent upon its quarterback, he is defined by dominance in the playoffs.

So…yours truly honestly and earnestly places Peyton’s little brother, Eli, at No. 7 in the list of top-ten active NFL quarterbacks. Not bad. Just not what you thought.

Eli Manning can shut us all up by winning another Super Bowl, which would put him in a rather renowned cadre of quarterbacks. Out of all retired quarterbacks, only Jim Plunkett has two rings and no bust in Canton. Then you call me out on this column. And I will apologize.

I hate, I mean HATE the New England Patriots, and my disdain for all things New England – from the Pats to the Red Sox to the Celtics to the accents to Ben Affleck – is well documented. But great is great. And Tom Brady is great.

And Eli Manning is not.

Feel free to email me:

  • JK

    Ah, what would we have done without Lydia’s daily porn spam? Thanks for stopping by, L’yd’i’a.

  • lydiass

    This articla is the most biased piece of garbage that I have ever read. Clearly another Giant/Eli hater using his media credentials as a bully pulpit. Pathetic!I am a 26 years old nurse, young and beautiful. Now I am seeking an older gentle man who can give me real love , so i got a username Annababe2011 on—a’ge’l’es’s’da’te. C óM—it is the first and best club for y’ounger women and older men, or older women and younger men,to int’eract with each other. Maybe you wanna ch’eck it out or tell your friends.

  • JK

    Wow – another voice of reason. Thank you, Jeff. I dig your beef with my rating system, but you’ll notice I struggled to put Eli in the top ten. I can’t entirely discount his Super Bowl MVP. I just can’t. Everyone I slide in front of Eli (except Rivers) has a ring. And until Vick and Ryan get some late January wins, I can’t automatically put them before Eli. But your point is rather well taken. Thanks again for not responding with Big Blue Blinders on.

    • jeff

      I hear what you’re saying but I really think it’s flawed logic. Was Eli the best QB in 2007? Is Eli better than Dan Marino was? Wasn’t John Elway a far better QB in all the years before he won the big game(s)? Football has 52 players. Granted, QB has a greater impact then any other one position. But we have seen GREAT teams and especially GREAT defenses overcome mediocre or even poor QBs (Dilfer, Rypein). We have also seen the better QB lose Super Bowls very often. Elway was better, in my opinion, then all the QBs he lost to in the Super Bowl.
      Rivers, just watch the guy play, is not just better than Eli, but unbelievably better. As are 13 or 14 other guys in the NFL, including the much-maligned Romo. Eli has been blessed with a great defense and great running game in most of his time here. His success was a product of his team. He has NEVER EVER carried the Giants. And people forget– he was SHUT DOWN for 3 quarters in the Super Bowl. The giants offense did nothing. Nothing. He also threw what should have been TWO essentially game-ending INTs in the 3rd and 4th Quarters of that game. Right through defenders’ hands.
      He’s not a good quarterback. I wish he was. I am the biggest Giants Fan alive and sit in section 121. But me, and my fellow giants fan friends, can’t wait until he’s gone.
      Jeff (again)

      • jeff

        If every coach in the NFL were starting a team and at their turn to draft both Rivers and Eli were available, how many would take Eli? I say 0.

        By the way, in a player peer-pool in ESPN magazine a couple of years ago, Eli was rated one of the top 5 overrated players in the NFL.

      • JK

        I think you’re a little harsh on Eli, Jeff, but my opinion is no more valid than yours, so we can – forgive the nauseating cliche – disagree without being disagreeable.

        By the way, Marino is the greatest passer I’ve ever seen, and no one is close, so your point about QBs who win the big one not being better than their peers is well taken. But we must admit that those who have rings get more respect than those who don’t.

    • eph


  • jeff

    And by the way. I love all these guys who say Eli’s great in every area except accuracy. Um, really? And it’s not like one fool, it’s actually become conventional wisdom to say this. “Yeh, he can’t hit receivers in stride, throws too many balls into defenders hands and can’t throw a bullet or through the wind if his life depended on it. But man, is he a terrific quarterback in other ways.
    Imagine someone saying “That guy would be a great pitcher if he only had control and speed” or “Dude, that food was great except that it was unhealthy and didn’t taste good.”


    • JK

      Indeed, Jeff, and I love how Eli’s 25 interceptions are incidental. Suddenly, certain stats don’t matter. Once Eli won a ring he also won the right to lose the rest of his career with impunity.

      • jeff

        It’s VERY frustrating for a lifelong fan and season ticket holder. My felloe giants buddies and I talk about the down side to that super bowl. Yes, a super bowl was the ultimate thrill. Something –especially that one– I wouldn’t trade for anything! But it also sentences us to many years of Eli at QB– NOT a good thing. The one argument about him that everyone has –“he has a ring” is infuriating. He has been awful, just awful, every other season. He was even awful in 2007 until the last game of the season against NE. The super bowl win, as great as it was, bought him undeserved YEARS of immunity as giants QB. I really, honestly, believe that his job would be in serious jeopardy now if not for that one super bowl. It makes no sense to me, Simms didn’t get unlimited immunity forever (and he was a MUCH better QB) nor did Hostetler (also a much better QB). Nor, for that matter did Rypien or Dilfer. So…WHY ELI???? WHY?
        From a desperate Giants fan,

  • jeff

    Want to see something REALLY scary? Tally up all of Eli’s stats from all his playoff games outside of 2007. SCARY BAD. Look up all his Meadowlands playoff games/stats. SCARY BAD. Even in 2007 while he played GREAT in Green Bay, his other games were mediocre, like he is. 2 balls went right through NE DBs hands. He should have thrown 3 picks. And go back and look at the Buffalo game that year where it was win or youre basically out for the Giants. Maybe his worst game ever– 5 TOs. 5!! But the defense won it, just like in the SB. The Tyree play was great, but it involved lots of luck. That ball bounces off Tyree’s helmet and suddenly Eli is 3-4 in the playoffs, throws tons of INTs every year (he does), has terrible accuracy (he does), can’t throw into the wind (he can’t) and fumbles WAY too much for a guy who doesn’t run (he does and does not).
    Am I a Jets fan? No, I’m a Giants PSL holder who simply watches Eli play every game. He’s not a good QB and the big big giants fans who watch him every game, know that.

    JK– I was with you all the way with your article and kept saying to myself, “finally, a guy being honest about Eli.” And then I saw how high you ranked him. 7th? I really disagree, all the stats (QB rating, Passing %, INTs and my EYES) tell you he’s mediocre. Every season. In nearly every area except for the ones he’s awful in (fumbling, accuracy).

  • sliv_the_eli

    As a life long die-hard Giants fan, I say, spot on JK. Eli is certainly a very good quarterback, but if his last name was not Manning, Phil Rivers would be slinging the pigskin for my Blue and Michael Strahan, not Eli, would have been MVP of the SB win over New England. Why Strahan? Because, as JK correctly points out, the Giants win that Super Bowl only because their defensive line, as a unit, was in Brady’s face all game and stopped the Patriots juggernaut that rolled over its competition all season. Since you can’t award MVP to “the line”, Strahan should have been MVP as the DL’s unquestioned leader.

    • JK

      Wow. Are you real, sliv? Thank you. I’ve been hated on for so long it’s rather refreshing to get a dose of common sense into the debate. As you say, the D-Line saved the day.

  • JK

    Ah, SL is back. You haven’t hated in a while. Did you find another writer to stalk? If so, please continue. This space has been lovely since you left.

  • SL

    The writer likes to pick on Derek Jeter also. LOL I hope he has noticed that Jeter’s batting average at the moment is .291. If he ends the season anywhere near .300, we will know how much this writer really knows about athletic talent.

  • Kurt Spitzner


  • Home Grown

    Yes Brady is great and of course his numbers far surpass Eli’s…but lets not forget Eli plays in the toughest division in football and has not missed a single game since becoming a starter. I wonder how much of Brady’s stats were inflated from facing the bills 2 times a year who haven’t had a professional defense since Bruce smith retired. The beauty of football is that greatness can be measured in many different ways as opposed to just stats.

    • JK

      Good points, Home. But Brady’s playoff record (14-5) is what shoves him ahead of the pack. You can’t say he’s not clutch. If there’s 2 minutes left and my team is up a field goal, the last guy I want to see on the other side with the ball is Brady.

  • Lou

    Well, the quote was obviously not a good one. He’s not Tom Brady. And honestly, I’ve yet to hear anyone, Giants fans included, try to argue otherwise.

    I think some Giants fans get upset though b/c Eli is just one of those guys, along with Coughlin, that always gets dumped on. Which is funny, because usually it’s the guys who actually draw attention to themselves like T.O. or Randy Moss that get that kind of treatment. But like you said, Eli is all “awe shucks” 99% of the time. So when he takes a 1/2 step out of line, like he did in his original response to Kay’s question, and then we see 3 days of stories about it, it just seems like overkill. I’m waiting for Tiki to chime in on this one, you know he’s got to take every shot at Eli that he can…

    • JK

      Also consider that it’s a slow week, Lou, so this Eli story has far more traction that it normally would (and should). All we have is baseball right now, and we’re just waiting and wilting for football.

      I’m glad you mentioned Tiki, because no one has blasted Barber harder than I have. In fact, I’m petrified by the notion that my Steelers are interested in him. If you check out “Sneaky-Tiki-Tawdry” I really light him up.

      • Lou

        Fair enough, it is a slow week. And I wouldn’t want Tiki back either.

  • JK

    Indeed. I expect Giants fans to shill for Eli. But where’s everyone else? Doesn’t Jets Nation have an opinion on the matter?

    • Lou

      How am I shilling for Eli? I said, he’s not as good as Brady. I admitted it wasn’t a great answer to the question. Fine. He’s not Jesus, I don’t expect every word he says to be perfect.

      I just can’t believe this story still has legs. Especially when you consider the context of what we listen to in this town from other players and other teams. Just using Rex as an example, I can’t remember any of his predictions eliciting 3 straight days of discussion, except for MAYBE on Francessa’s show, and we all know the story there…

      • JK

        Lou, I admit that Rex gets too much credit and Coughlin gets too little. I’m simply and singularly addressing Eli’s quote and his place among NFL QB’s.

  • Lou

    My god, talk about making mountains out of mole hills. Eli is a solid QB. Yes, he’s not Tom Brady (although I think he had more to do w/ that Superbowl “W” than the author seems to give him credit for-And I absolutely believe he outplayed Brady in that game alone), but he’s a legitimate top 10 QB. Guy’s been a pro bowler, been to the playoffs 4 out of 6 full years as a starter, won 2 division titles, and a superbowl MVP. It’s not like he has no resume.

    OK, he didn’t give the best answer to what was, in my opinion, a very stupid question to begin with. (And notice that I characterize his answer as not “the best.” It wasn’t “the worst” answer he could have given either.)

    As the other poster said, in a town where a certain coach pronounces his team as the “the best team in the NFL” every year despite having never won a Superbowl, or even a division title, I can’t believe so much is being made of this.

    Just goes to show you that people will take any chance to dump on Eli. Him and Coughlin are in the same boat on that. In 7 years in this town, this is probably the most controversial thing he has ever said. Think about that…

  • JK

    I am very much a fool, anon. Anything else? You’re welcome to tell me why Eli Manning is in Brady’s class.

  • anon

    I actually love the way Eli Manning turns people like this writer into fools. Why on earth do you care about Eli Manning’s confidence level? The media spins, and little cogs fall in line. You sure did write a lot about it.

    btw, I used to think Eli only claimed to not listen to all the bull. But now I see he’s dead truthful about it. Otherwise, he never would have answered that ridiculous question the way he did. He would have been aware of the nonsense. Instead, he was honest and just gave the straight answer like a man and leader of a major sports franchise.

  • Big Fan

    Fine, but first I’d like to know why you and your colleagues in the NY Sports media love to beat up on Eli and the Giants. Yet, you all grovel at Rex Ryan’s feet and hang on every piece of hyperbole that comes out of his fat face! You love all the bluster that comes from this man who has yet to win ANYTHING. And one comment by meek and quiet Eii Manning causes you to mercilessly blast him with both barrels.

    Yes, Brady has better stats. No, numbers don’t lie. And YES. A Giants team led by Eli Manning defeated the previously unbeaten Patriot juggernaut in Super Bowl 42. Despite your claims that he did not have much to do with the victory, his “Jim Everett feet” happened to walk away with the MVP that day. All I am asking is for just a little civility for him and the Giants, and for you and your colleagues to put your allegiances aside when you are doing your jobs.

    • JK

      Understood. I respectfully disagree that I fawn over Rex Ryan, but your overarching point about the media drooling over him is salient. And please remember I restrict my column to Eli and his comments, nothing more. I’ve never placed Rex Ryan above Tom Coughlin on the football food chain, and never will, unless Rex wins the next two Super Bowls, which, as you know, is nearly impossible.

      I appreciate a good, clean debate. Thanks for reading and responding, Big Fan.

    • JK

      Whoa! Dude, you misread my column. I said it was BRADY who had the jumpy, Jim Everett feet. not Manning. If you’re gonna blast me, at least blast me for what I said. And I also put Manning ahead of Sanchez, who, as you imply, has won nothing. In fact, Rivers is the only one I put ahead of Eli Manning who doesn’t have a ring. So if you blast me for that, you have a legitimate point.

      • Big Fan

        Oops…you’re right…I did misread that. I was pretty heated. But I never said I agreed with Eli’s comment…I love Eli but I would not put him in Brady’s class either, unless he has a spectacular next couple of years.

        My issue is with the fact that you, Carton, Beningo, Roberts, et al are way too obvious with your Giant bashing. The Jets haven’t won a thing since before people walked on the moon, and they are treated like the beasts of the NFL by you all. And every time their head coach makes a controversial remark, which is often, you fawn over him like he’s Mark Twain. That’s the point I was trying to make. You are getting pretty boring and predictable in your methods.

  • JK

    But seriously, dude, you’re allowed to fight me with facts instead of platitudes about media bias. Tell me why Eli is in Brady’s class.

  • JK

    I couldn’t agree more, Big Fan. And I wrote it! How dare he do this to you!

  • Big Fan

    This articla is the most biased piece of garbage that I have ever read. Clearly another Giant/Eli hater using his media credentials as a bully pulpit. Pathetic!


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