Boiling Points

Josh Horton, Sports Columnist

Super Bowl XLVI fell almost in conjunction with Groundhog’s Day this year, but unlike Punxatawney Phil, Eli Manning officially stepped out of his familial shadow by winning a second Super Bowl ring.

Eli is the youngest of the Manning triple threat, which includes his father Archie and older brother Peyton. Eli, however, is beginning a legacy of his own and will no longer be referred to as Peyton’s little brother or Archie’s less successful son. Instead, he is now one of the elite quarterbacks in the NFL.

He took a team with a mediocre record and turned them into a Super Bowl team. In fact, according to a poll on the Los Angeles Times website, Manning is the league’s best quarterback. Not Peyton, but Eli. Peyton also made the list, but was a heavy underdog in the polls to his younger brother. Perhaps one may see it as a passing of the torch.

There is no debate as to whether or not Peyton still has what it takes to be an NFL quarterback, but as he gets older he doesn’t exactly get more arm strength, or magically become more mobile. It is time for Eli to shine.

With his elite Super Bowl performance, one can now mention his name in the same breath as his father and his brother without getting laughed at. In fact, what he has done this season as both a quarterback and a team leader will spark intense debate in residence halls, sports bars and water cooler discussions all over the country.

To be honest, in terms of skill level I would say Manning is among the top five quarterbacks in the league. However, top five doesn’t mean he is the best.

If I am a general manager of an NFL team there are a few quarterbacks I would take prior to Eli. If I am drafting my top five quarterbacks are Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, Tom Brady, Eli Manning, and Ben Roethlisberger, in that order.

All five of these players are terrific quarterbacks and any team would be lucky to have them, but the reason I chose Rodgers first is based purely on passing efficiency. He has pinpoint accuracy and is a nightmare for opposing defensive coordinators. Just like Rodgers, Brees also passes the ball at a very high level. He just doesn’t pass it as well.

The question that presents the most criticism is “Brady or Eli?” One may ask, “How could you take either Brady or Eli when Eli just beat Brady?” The answer is simple: Brady has been a consistent winner his entire career and has been a huge reason why the Patriots have been such a successful franchise for over ten years.

The reason Eli is fourth on the list is based on a small sample size. For example, Rodgers, Brees and Brady have been consistent over the course of the season, where as Eli went on a hot streak to end the season. If Eli comes back next year and puts up Rodgers-like numbers he will move up on the list.

Roethlisberger rounds out the list because despite never blowing anyone away with his skill the guy gets the job done. He is a winner and does a great job of commanding the Steelers defense.

It will be very interesting to see how Eli does next year. Will he continue to develop his legacy, or will the Giants go 8-8 and miss the playoffs? Both are strong possibilities, because both the Eagles and the Cowboys thought they had Super Bowl teams this year. There is no greater motivation then watching a team from your division win the Super Bowl.

The great thing about professional sports is, they usually cause great debate. I expect this list to be a topic of discussion – maybe even heated discussion. After all, this column is called “Boiling Points.”