If Eli Manning has a leg up on Tom Brady at anything, it's that he's far crazier than the Patriots quarterback. At least that's the one thing I can deduce from his bold proclamation on Tuesday night, when the Giants QB said that he's a top quarterback who belongs in the same class as Brady.
I know. I was taken aback, too.
Yet as wild as it sounds, Manning muttered those words of garbage when he appeared on The Michael Kay Show on ESPN New York 1050 on Tuesday night. Manning obviously wasn't under the influence of heavy hallucinogens, but there's just so much wrong with his self-assessment that I couldn't help but question his sanity.
First of all, to call himself a "top quarterback" is beyond comprehension.
"Top quarterbacks" don't finish among the top four for most interceptions four times in six seasons, including throwing league-high totals in two of them. But that's exactly what he's done.
Manning's interception numbers soared in each of his first four seasons in the league, as he finished with 9 (in seven starts), 17, 18 and 20 from 2004 to 2007, respectively. Then, after two relatively tame seasons, Manning followed up with a career-high and NFL-leading 25 picks in 2010. Those 25 interceptions were three more than Drew Brees' 22, even though Brees launched 119 more passes.
Only once has Manning's pass-interception percentage — which is measured by dividing a player's total number of interceptions by his total number of pass attempts — cracked the top 10 in the league for a single season.
In fact, for his career, Manning's 3.4 pass-interception percentage is ranked 28th among active quarterbacks. In other words, Manning has thrown an interception 3.4 percent of the time he's attempted a pass in his career, which is worse than Brett Favre (the NFL's all-time interceptions leader), Trent Edwards, David Carr and Charlie Batch, among others.
Aaron Rodgers, at only two percent, is the active leader in that statistical category. Who's second? That would be Mr. Tom Brady.
If picks aren't enough for you, Manning has shown that he often doesn't even have to let it fly to turn the football over. He's shown a tendency to put the ball on the ground throughout his career, as he's finished in the top three for fumbles by quarterbacks twice and has the 11th highest active total, sitting in the midst of 30- and 40-something-year-olds, who would inevitably boast higher totals because of their longer tenures in the league.
But hey, Eli's a gunslinger, so you've got to take the good with the bad, right?
Well, even though he's finished in the top 10 in the league in passing touchdowns five times and in the top five three times, he's still only averaging 6.21 adjusted yards gained per attempt (which is a stat with a rather complicated formula, but ultimately helps show a quarterback's efficiency). Ranked 25th among active QBs in that category, he's again sitting behind some rather subpar names — including Jake Delhomme and Jason Campbell, among others.
And as far as passer rating goes (which I understand is a statistic that hardly anyone knows how to calculate or comprehend), Manning has never fared well (23rd among active QBs), while the game's true elite are at or near the top of the league — including Brady.
If you look at Brady's career statistics, whether taken as a whole or season-by-season, you'd find that he's truly among the game's elite, worthy of the "top quarterback" label. He won't sit there and tell you that, though, because he doesn't need to. His resume speaks for itself, especially his three Super Bowl victories.
I understand that Eli Manning has been to a Pro Bowl. You know who else has? Vince Young.
I understand that Eli Manning has won a Super Bowl. You know who else has? Trent Dilfer.
I also understand that Eli Manning has won a Super Bowl MVP — against Tom Brady and Co., mind you. But do you know who else has earned such an honor? Mark Rypien.
None of those quarterbacks' careers holds a candle to Brady's. But then again, none would likely try to convince you it does.
To Manning's credit, he's shown that he can be a good NFL quarterback at times. He's helped lead the Giants to the postseason four times and often makes throws that many other quarterbacks can't. But other times, he's been mediocre at best.
Brady, on the other hand, has his bad games here and there, but more often than not, he's the best player on the field at any given time. For Manning to say he's in Brady's class is absurd.
There's one Manning who can say firmly that he's in a class with Brady. And it certainly isn't Eli.