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Phil Simms: Nope, Eli Manning ‘Not One Of The Elites’

Eli Manning (credit: Streeter Lecka/Getty Images), Phil Simms (credit: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images for DirectTV)

Eli Manning (credit: Streeter Lecka/Getty Images), Phil Simms (credit: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images for DirectTV)

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — It’s the debate that just won’t go away.

After last season’s championship run, many agreed with Eli Manning’s once-controversial statement that he was among the NFL’s elite quarterbacks. After all, he just earned his second Super Bowl MVP, both against the Patriots’ powerhouse duo of coach Bill Belichick and QB Tom Brady.

So we’re all in agreement now, right?

Not according to former Giants quarterback Phil Simms.

“No, he is not one of the elites,” Simms said Monday on CBS Sports Network’s “NFL Monday QB.”

He explained: “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.”

Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Fouts disagreed.

“You can’t spell ‘elite’ without Eli,” he said. “The pressure situations that Eli has thrived in over his short career, in my mind, make him an elite quarterback, because that is when you’re judged. How well do you do when the pressure is on, when you’ve got to win the game?”

Despite his playoff heroics, Manning came in at No. 31 in the NFL Network’s “Top 100″ this offseason, something Giants defensive end Justin Tuck blasted as “a joke.”

The hits kept coming. Former teammate Amani Toomer said on his radio show that Cowboys star Tony Romo — with his zero titles — was the best quarterback in the NFC East.

Manning, in the midst of a slump, has denied speculation that his arm may be sore or injured. The Giants have lost two of three contests, with Manning taking the brunt of the criticism with zero touchdowns and four interceptions during that span.

But to Fouts, elite status is all about the big stage.

“And all you have to do is look back at his two Super Bowl wins and the way he beat the Patriots,” Fouts said. “I have to give him a nod and say Eli is elite.”

Are you with Simms or Fouts? Sound off in the comments below!