Welcome to This Year's Manufactured Eli Manning Controversy

Eli's ranking on a NFL Network list has his teammates up in arms

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    When you have trophies, there's not much reason to care about lists.

    In its never-ending effort to dominate every inch of available space, the NFL decided last year that they would start asking players to rank the top 100 players in the league and make revealing the list into a weekly TV show.

    Like all lists, this list exists for two reasons. The first is what it tells us about the people making the list -- NFL players think offensive linemen are meaningless and that running backs are vitally important, two things that NFL teams vehemently disagree with -- and the second is that it gives people something to argue or complain about.

    The latter is our topic de jour, because the Giants have worked themselves into a lather about Eli Manning's placement on the list. Manning ranks 31, a ranking that led Chris Canty and Justin Tuck to rush to the closest microphone in order to decry the madness of the voters who clearly don't know what they're talking about.

    The lack of respect shown to offensive linemen should be enough to know that this list isn't worth a bucket of warm spit, but we will stipulate that Manning's ranking is far too low. So is the ranking of fellow two-time Super Bowl winner Ben Roethlisberger, who is one spot ahead of Manning, although it is just as meaningless as Manning's ranking.

    Manning is a great quarterback and neither the Giants nor anyone with half a brain need some silly list of players to tell them that. If anything, you'd think that the Giants would be thrilled with this as it reflects a lesser view of Manning that they should be able to exploit against players who think he isn't all that good assuming, of course, players took this thing as seriously as Canty and Tuck.

    Basically, this whole thing is a rehash of the nonsensical "Is Eli elite?" debate from the start of last season. It's a wholly manufactured controversy that has absolutely no relation to anything that actually happens on the football field.

    It's also a continuation of the several year Rodney Dangerfield card that the Giants have been playing. While they truly were massive underdogs the first time they beat the Patriots in the Super Bowl, they've never enjoyed that kind of lowly status in the past outside of the paranoid minds of Tom Coughlin, team leaders like Tuck and the most blind of followers.

    Were the Giants also getting no respect when they were a popular pick to win the division in 2009 and 2010 before missing the playoffs entirely? What about when they entered the playoffs at 12-4 in 2008 and were the majority choice to win their first game?

    Players have selective memories, something that should be pointed out to Canty and Tuck the next time they exercise their right to complain about things that they shouldn't be paying any attention to in the first place. The Giants get plenty of respect the only place where it matters, which is on the field.

    All the rest is noise, up to and including the Giants' continual moaning about how nobody ever believes in them.

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    Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City. You can follow him on Twitter and he is also a contributor to Pro Football Talk.