Eli Manning was formally benched for Daniel Jones today, and it set up the ever-lasting debate about whether he deserves to get into the Hall of Fame. This is a weird debate because pretty much everyone agrees that he will get in, but then there is a split about whether he deserves that.
The inevitability of his induction is exemplified by longtime former New York Daily News columnist Gary Meyers:
First ballot! This means he’s unimpeachable.
The issue I have is that, despite those two magical playoff runs, I really don’t think there was a time in his career that Eli Manning was one of the two or three best quarterbacks in the league, let alone the top spot.
The following QB eras fully or at least largely overlapped with Eli’s and were all better: Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, Philip Rivers, Ben Roethlisberger, and Aaron Rodgers (I know Rivers doesn’t have the playoff pedigree, but Eli has had the benefit of playing for a much more sound organization). Eli also overlapped partially with Brett Favre and Kurt Warner. So at least eight quarterbacks of his era had better careers.
Eli never led the league in completion percentage, passing yards, touchdown passes, yards per attempt, QB rating, or QBR (he did lead the league in interceptions three times).
What Eli Manning has going for him, besides the Super Bowl runs, are several things: Playing in New York, family lineage (and if you don’t think Archie Manning is already lobbying behind the scenes for his induction, I don’t know what to tell you), and the fact that he always carried himself with dignity.
That being said, on the merits he is a marginal candidate at best who will probably be inducted on the first ballot.