Barber, who co-hosts the Morning Show with Brandon Tierney and Dana Jacobsen on the CBS Sports Radio Network, said on Wednesday's show that he thinks Eli is better than Peyton.
"The expectation was that he was never going to be Peyton. I remember having these conversations with people who watched Eli in college, saying, 'He's good, but he's never going to be Peyton, he's not Peyton.' Guess what? I think he's better than Peyton," Barber said. "Because of clutch. What matters in sports? It's winning and losing. You get to the stage and what do you do? Eli's gotten there and he's won."
Barber, who played with —and criticized — Eli for three seasons in New York, didn't stop there. He also said Eli could be in the conversation for top-five quarterback of all time if he has a couple more successful seasons.
"For Eli to crack the top five of all time, he's got to have a 2011 [type] season a couple more times and win another Super Bowl and be Super Bowl MVP, and then I think he's in the discussion for the top five [quarterbacks] of all time," Barber said.
It's quite a turn for the Giants' pariah. Barber publicly questioned Manning's leadership abilities back in 2007 — after Barber retired. When Eli responded, the fight was on.
Barber was quoted as saying that when Eli tried to give motivational pre-game speeches, he sounded "comical." When Manning heard the comments from Barber, he replied that maybe Barber should take a look at himself first, because Barber's pending retirement had served as a distraction all season long.
Manning went on to win the first of his two Super Bowls that season while Barber watched from his couch.
Since then, Manning has gone on to become one of the most-respected elite quarterbacks in the NFL while Tiki has pretty much faded from view and favor with Giants fans.
In 2011, Manning threw 29 touchdown passes on the way to leading the Giants to a Super Bowl win over the Patriots, the second Super Bowl win of Eli's career. Eli's 4,933 passing yards in 2011 is the eighth-highest single-season total in NFL history and is 233 yards more than Peyton's best single-season performance. Something even Barber has to acknowledge.
"As much as you want to try and diminish what he's done, you can't," Barber said of Manning. "Every stat and conversation point supports what he's done."
Manning Bowl III is set for Sept. 15 when they meet at MetLife Stadium and Peyton goes for the sweep.
And, just maybe, there will be a Giants-Broncos matchup in Super Bowl XLVIII in the same place to settle the argument once and for all.