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Monday (Eli Manning -- creating a Hall of Fame career?) edition: Wha' Happened?

Posted by: Michael Rand under Professional football Updated: February 6, 2012 - 10:00 AM

Is Eli Manning going to be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame someday?

Well, he can take the guesswork out of things with ANOTHER Super Bowl title. Three would make it pretty much automatic; here are the only QBs in history to win three: Terry Bradshaw, Joe Montana, Troy Aikman and Tom Brady. Three are in the hall, and the other is a slam dunk when he's eligible.

But let's say he never wins another Super Bowl. Let's say Manning -- who is only 31 -- has at least another five good years throwing for 3,500 to 4,000 yards and generally performing as a top-10 or top-5 quarterback in the NFL. Will he be a Hall of Famer? Should he be?

Well, here's the additional list of QBs who have now won two Super Bowls: John Elway, Bob Griese, Jim Plunkett, Ben Roethlisberger, Bart Starr and Roger Staubach. Of the eligible players, all but Plunkett are in the hall -- and Eli has much better all-time numbers than Plunkett.

Roethlisberger offers a great contemporary comparison. Both have two titles. Both were drafted in the first round in 2004. Roethlisberger has far more off-field baggage. Manning loses the passer rating battle by 10 full points. Both have had nice defenses around them; let's not forget that in both of Eli's 4-0 runs to titles, the Giants never allowed more than 20 points in a game. Only once did they score more than 24.

Then again, Eli toppled the undefeated Patriots, the one-loss Packers and the genius of Belichick again en route to his Super Bowl titles. He played five of his six games to get to those Super Bowls on the road. He's become the master of the fourth-quarter comeback -- leading 23 career game-winning drives, including seven in the regular season this season and the crucial one on Sunday. He also threw for almost 5,000 yards this season.

As it stands right now, we'd put Manning ahead of Roethlisberger in the Hall of Fame race. We'd be inclined to say both will get in someday, but that Eli's case is closer to a sure thing than we would have ever imagined.

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