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Eli Manning Is Elite, With A Chance To Be Historic

There will always be Eli Manning-bashers. If there are people who don't believe the New York Giants quarterback is one of the elite ones playing today, those people will probably never be convinced.

The franchise-record 4,933 yards passing he tallied this season won't convince the non-believers. Neither will the fact that he holds almost every important Giants franchise passing record, and the ones he does not hold he will have soon. The five fourth-quarter comebacks and six fourth-quarter victories this season? Luck, say the non-believers. If the Giants weren't so crappy in the first halves of those games he wouldn't have had to win that way.

There is, however, one thing that might make even the most ardent Manning-basher give the youngest member of the Manning quarterbacking clan some respect, albeit grudgingly. That would be a second Super Bowl ring.

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Manning already has one Super Bowl title -- and a Super Bowl MVP -- on his resume. A second Super Bowl ring would make him only the 11th quarterback to win two rings. Seven of those guys are already in the Hall of Fame. Tom Brady is going there. I will grudgingly admit that Ben Roethlisberger of the Pittsburgh Steelers could be, too, even though I feel about Roethlisberger the way many feel about Manning.

So, a second Super Bowl title for the Giants during the Manning era vaults Manning into an entirely different stratosphere. That will give him one more Super Bowl than his brother, Peyton, and force people to debate not whether Manning is an elite quarterback, but whether or not he is a Hall of Fame quarterback.

Manning is already the best quarterback the Giants have ever had. Apologies to Phil Simms fans, and to older fans of Y.A. Tittle or Charlie Conerly, but there really isn't much of an argument about that anymore.

Can he get that second Super Bowl ring this time around? The Giants are steep underdogs today at Lambeau Field against the Green Bay Packers. If they win today, they will remain steep underdogs in the NFC Championship Game against the San Francisco 49ers. Manning has been here, before, though, shooting down Brett Favre and Tom Brady en route to the Giants' Super Bowl title four seasons ago.

Even if the Giants don't win the Super Bowl this time around -- and as much as Giants fans hope it happens odds are that they won't -- does anyone doubt that there is an excellent chance they can win at least one more title during Manning's career? He is now completing his eighth season, and if he stays healthy there is little reason to think he won't have six to eight more seasons to add to his accomplishments.

If and when that second Super Bowl title happens Manning enters a whole different discussion.