By Tony Mangia
HE'S NOT PEYTON BUT HE'S NOT OVERRATED
In a Sports Illustrated poll voted by 239 of his peers, New York Giants QB Eli Manning showed up as the 5th "Most Overrated Player" on the list. Manning trailed only Terrell Owens, Tony Romo, Mark Sanchez and Albert Haynesworth. Manning took a step up---last year he was number four on the list.
Four years ago, Manning deserved to be on the list. He was a hugely-hyped number one draft pick who played erratically and looked befuddled both on the field and sidelines. He was drafted alongside Ben Roethlisberger and Philip Rivers and was the younger brother of Robo-QB, Peyton. His draft mates got off to quick starts while Eli struggled to find his way.
Why is Eli always called overrated? Maybe disgruntled ex-Giant--an Eli Manning critic-- C.C. Brown stuffed the ballot box. Eli will always be compared to his incomparable brother, but to lump him in with the aforementioned group? Romo may have a flashier style and bigger numbers but his post-season record speaks for itself. Sanchez is considered to be the beneficiary of an awesome D while T.O.'s and Haynesworth's blather can't conceal their downswings. Even the highly-regarded Rivers should get votes before Eli.
Eli has played in 86 straight games and, in that time, has had a 4,000 yard season and thrown for 20 or more touchdowns five years in-a-row. Most importantly, he has shown progress in every aspect of his game.
To be fair, the poll was taken before the season began and after a year the Giants didn't make the playoffs. The New York spotlight could be partially to blame. Remember back in 2008 when Derek Jeter was voted the most overrated player in the major leagues. All he had on his resume were a dozen All-Star games and four World Series rings. Nothing breeds negative comparisons like positive results.
The bottom line is that Eli Manning has become a winner. He is 58-42 for his career including the playoffs. He is having an excellent season despite all of the interceptions--blame his slippery-handed receivers--and has the Giants tied for the NFC East lead with a record of 4-2. He is in the NFC's top five in completion percentage, yards and touchdowns.
Eli will never be piled into the same group as Peyton or Tom Brady or Drew Brees and he'll never have the numbers of Aaron Rogers or Romo but he will end up the greatest Giant quarterback with at least one Super Bowl ring on his finger. He's durable and plays Giant football--get the ball into the gut of your running back, keep the defensive backs on their heels and win. If that's overrated, we'll take it.