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Eli Manning Is Sparking Some Big Debates

Is Eli the best quarterback in football?

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
    AP
    Does being the best matter more than being the most clutch?

    Everyone's falling all over themselves to come up with superlatives for Eli Manning in the wake of Super Bowl 46.

    Discussions of his worthiness for the Hall of Fame have begun, even though he's got years left in his career, and claims that he is the best quarterback in the NFL are starting to pop up.

    Brandon Jacobs made the proclamation in the hours after the game and Gary Myers of the Daily News is joining in as well. Are these guys on the right track?

    It's important to remember how flimsy the footing is under the argument in favor of Eli being the best quarterback in football. To illustrate that, let's say the first 59 minutes and 59 seconds of the Super Bowl play out exactly as they did with the only change being that Tom Brady's last-ditch Hail Mary finds Rob Gronkowski's hands before hitting the turf.

    Absolutely nothing has changed about the way Eli played in either the regular season or the Super Bowl, but it is hard to imagine that you'd be reading a column from Myers touting him as the best quarterback in the NFL. Jacobs would probably still be saying it, but, as with most things Jacobs says, people would be ignoring it while lauding Brady's fourth championship and case for the title of best quarterback in history.

    And you can be sure that no one would be making arguments that Eli has already done enough to make it to the Hall of Fame. Again, absolutely nothing would be different about Manning's own performance or accomplishments but the reaction would be almost 180 degrees different because of a play that did not concern him in the least.

    There are plenty of counter-arguments you can make about Eli being the best quarterback in football, starting with the fact that all of his charms weren't enough to win more nine games nor outscore the opposition over the course of the season. The decision you reach on the top spot of such a list is entirely in the eye of the beholder, which makes it more than a little difficult to claim it with any certainty.

    So let's put aside that argument and make the one that really matters when it comes to Eli. There isn't a quarterback in football that you'd rather have with the ball in the final minutes of a game when your team needs a score to wind up winning.

    He's proved time and again that he has both the ability and demeanor to make plays when the pressure is highest. Time and again this season the difference between the Giants winning and losing has been Eli making the play at the right moment and the opposition failing to answer.

    Whether he is playing at home, on the road, outdoors, indoors or on Newt Gingrich's forthcoming moon colony, Eli makes the final minutes his own personal playground. In a sport that requires that kind of play all too often, it is hard to care much about the largely fictitious best label when Eli has made it clear he's captured the clutch crown by a mile.

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