It’s the day after the Super Bowl, one which should be a national holiday seeing as most people are hung-over anyway.
Throughout the airwaves the usual discussions are taking place, how did Manningham stay in bounds? Which commercial was the best? Who was that old woman dancing around at halftime and why didn’t the skin on her face move during the performance?
But the most sports-relevant story of the day has been where does Eli Manning rank amongst the top quarterbacks in the NFL today?
The quarterbacks in the debate, to me, are Eli and Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees and Ben Roethlisberger. Having a Super Bowl ring isn’t required, but it is something that all of these guys have in common.
Now for my list:
6. Ben Roethlisberger: I think that Ben has had to do the least to win his two Super Bowl rings. He has had the best defenses of any of the other quarterbacks on the list and also had the lowest quarterback rating of the winner in Super Bowl history in 2005 in SB XL.
5. Eli Manning: Before winning on Sunday, I never would have included Eli in this discussion. But you can’t dispute the fact that he played well and earned his second SB MVP and is 2-0 over Brady and the Patriots in the Super Bowl. Last season he led the league with 30 turnovers (25 INT and 5 fumbles) and this year only had 20 (16 and 4) and nearly 5,000 yards passing. Consistency was the key during this season, but to rise up this list he will need to do it year after year.
4. Aaron Rodgers: Rodgers has only played four full seasons as the starting quarterback of the Packers, but in those years has not thrown for under 3,900 yards and less than 28 touchdowns in a season. He has led the Packers to a Super Bowl victory last season and this year had the best passer rating in the history of the league. By the end of his career he could be the best of his era, but time will tell.
3. Drew Brees: He was good in San Diego, but has become one of the best ever in his time in New Orleans. This season he set six NFL passing records including passing yards, completions and completion percentage. He won the MVP of SB XLIV after tying the record for most completions in a Super Bowl with 32 to go along with 288 yards and two touchdowns.
2. Peyton Manning: Some people are debating if Eli is better because he has more rings and Peyton has struggled in playoff games. But older brother Peyton has won four league MVP’s and has had to face some of the best defenses of a generation in the playoffs. Having to get through the Steelers and the Ravens defense to reach the Super Bowl is a much harder task than the NFC has to offer. If his value isn’t determined in those stats alone, look at the Colts this season without him, they looked pathetic and had a chance to end the season without a victory. Peyton is healthy coming in to the next year and has a chance to solidify his legacy with another strong season.
1. Tom Brady: The numbers don’t lie, Brady has been a starter for ten years in New England and the Patriots have gone to the Super Bowl in half of them. Three Super Bowl rings and he is only the second player in NFL history to have two Super Bowl and league MVP awards, the other is Joe Montana. Brady also has the NFL record for the most touchdown passes in a season with 50 and is the first quarterback ever to reach 200 touchdowns with fewer than 100 interceptions, he had 88. He was at the helm for maybe one of the best teams ever, the 2007 Patriots, and shows no sign of slowing down.
Some quarterbacks who have a chance to join this conversation by winning a championship would be Philip Rivers and Matt Ryan. Matt Stafford, Cam Newton and Andy Dalton also all have a chance to join the elites with a few more spectacular seasons and some playoff success.
All in all, that is my list. Feel free to tell me what you think I got wrong, who I forgot or even if you agree me.