In case you didn’t get the memo, the NFL season is now over. Pretty soon we will get the opportunity to jump right into the NFL draft talk and free agency. It almost seems too soon to be talking about that already, at least free agency anyways, because usually we have to wait a full year before it happens and not just six months. But thankfully there will be no lockout to worry about, so things will be on schedule and we get rewarded with two free agency periods within 6 months of each other. But right now the NFL talk isn’t quite yet on the discussion of draft and free agency, but rather people are talking about two talented brothers. Eli and Peyton Manning. Now I want to spend some time and add to this conversation because both brothers are in two very different situations. Situations that are quite new for each quarterback respectively. Both situations are quite intriguing as well.
First up to bat is Eli. Eli has always been seen as the lesser, younger Manning. He’s always been in the shadow of his older brother Peyton. Up to this point, not many have even considered discussing the idea that one day Eli will become better than Peyton. However, the days of completely throwing Eli under the bus and logging him off as a failure have most likely ended this week when he did something that Peyton has never been able to do. That would be winning a second Super Bowl. Now winning one Super Bowl doesn’t say a whole lot. There have been a lot of average-at-best quarterbacks that have won a Super Bowl. But two Super Bowl wins is something different. No, it doesn’t guarantee you a spot in the hall of fame, but it certainly says that you are a good quarterback and you winning the Super Bowl wasn’t a fluke.
So now applying that to Eli, what is his place? Do we mention his name when we talk about the great quarterbacks of today? Do we say he is a hall of fame quarterback? What about comparing him to his brother? Is he equal to his brother? Is he better or more successful? Now by posing that question, I am not claiming I think the answer is yes to all those questions, because I don’t, but I am simply bringing those questions to the table. If the answer is no, what more does Eli have to do to make people start saying yes to those questions. Both of the Giants’ Super Bowl runs were quite impressive. Now you could just say the first one was a fluke if you really wanted to, but that game is easily one of the biggest upsets in NFL history. And with the way the NFC turned out this year, having the Giants run through the Falcons, Packers, 49ers, and Patriots was quite the epic run being that three of those four teams had 13 wins or more and at one point the Giants were sitting at 7-7 with no one even giving them a shot at the playoffs. And if you look at Eli Manning’s stats on the year, he quietly had a great season. Now it was overshadowed by monster seasons from Brees, Brady, and Stafford with them getting above 5,000 yards and Brees and Brady both topping Marino’s former record. Then of course there was MVP Aaron Rodgers as well. But Eli was right up there behind that crew and that is very respectful, not to mention he was ahead of the pack when it came to fourth quarter comebacks and that included a great one this past Sunday in the Super Bowl. Now I don’t think we can give him the title of Hall of Fame quarterback quite yet, but he’s a force to be reckoned with and if he keeps up this pace and ends his career with another Super Bowl win or two under his belt, then I think he will certainly be in that discussion.
Now, before I end, I want to spend a bit of time on the other Manning brother. The one that we definitely can say is a hall of fame quarterback and in the discussion for best quarterback in the NFL right now. Peyton Manning. Him and the Colts are in quite the predicament. Peyton is coming of a season where he didn’t play one snap due to a recent neck surgery. It was the first season since the Colts drafted him that they had to go without him. And the result of that showed the world how valuable of a player he was to them. Every year, no matter who he has around him, Peyton has brought his team to the playoffs. In several cases, especially the last few years when the Colts have done a terrible job of building a team around him, he has almost single handedly brought his team to the playoffs. One sign of a great player is one who makes everyone around him better and Peyton certainly does that. The result of Peyton being hurt results in the Colts’ worst season since before Peyton was drafted. That in my mind says a ton about Peyton. I would be willing to give him the MVP award this season just because of how horrible the Colts were without him. Now MVP stands for Most VALUABLE Player, so when you think of what that means, namely most valuable and not best player, then it’s not a stretch to say that.
Now Peyton being a great quarterback here is not what is up for debate, but what is would be what do the Colts do now? Because of how bad they did, they have wound up with the number one pick in the draft and it just so happens that this is the draft that includes Andrew Luck, who many people say is the best pro prospect to come out of college since either Peyton Manning or John Elway, some even saying ever. Now as a side tangent, it’s interesting to note that the Colts certainly know when to lose. Elway and Peyton were both drafted by the Colts as well. So it is inevitable that the Colts will take Andrew Luck. And with that they will be owing a big paycheck to him. Now, if the Colts decide to keep Manning, they owe him quite the hefty paycheck of a total that is north of $20 million. That’s a lot of money invested in one position. The other thing to consider is Peyton’s injury. If it was a shoulder injury, a leg injury, or something else that would be different. But it’s not. It’s a neck injury. And that is an injury that is no small thing. It would be one that wouldn’t surprise me at all if it ended up putting Peyton in the broadcasting booth earlier than he would like. And if that is the case, with the Colts having access to Andrew Luck, is it time to cut ties with their superstar and move on? Peyton himself said that he thinks that he would not feel jealous at all if the Colts took a quarterback and that quarterback should start from day one just like he did. With that you get to build your team around luck and start over with a youth movement. However, what if Andrew Luck doesn’t work out? What if he becomes a huge bust? Then the Colts have screwed themselves over big time AND gotten rid of their star. The advantages of keeping Peyton on board is that you have insurance. If Peyton heals fully, then he starts and Andrew Luck has one of the best all time mentors. If Peyton ends up not playing, then yes you did just spend a lot of money that you could’ve used elsewhere, but you have someone better to turn to than Curtis Painter. Both situations have advantages and disadvantages. If it were my call, I will hang on to Peyton for at least another year or two and then go from there, but we’ll see what happens. I know there are several teams out there that will jump at the chance to add Peyton to their team. If it happens, it will certainly be weird to see Peyton suit up for a team that is not the Colts. And now that is all I have. Feel free to give your thoughts on the either situation presented here.