An athlete can have all the talent in the world and a boatload of regular-season accolades, but without that six-letter word, he or she can never reach that transcendent level worthy of being called “elite.”
That’s the argument former Pro Bowl running back Tiki Barber used Thursday morning when he argued on his CBS Sports Radio Network show that Eli Manning is a better quarterback at this moment than his older brother, Peyton.
“The expectation was that he was never going to be Peyton,” Barber said (as transcribed by Eye on Football). “I remember having these conversations with people who watched Eli in college, saying, ‘He’s good, but he’s never going to be Peyton. He’s not Peyton.’ Guess what? I think he’s better than Peyton. Because of clutch. What matters in sports? It’s winning and losing. You get to the stage and what do you do? Eli’s gotten there and he’s won.”
Though many would not even place Eli among the top five quarterbacks in the NFL today (though his two Super Bowl wins certainly put him in the conversation), Barber says another season or two in the vein of Eli’s 2011 campaign could place him among the top five greatest signal callers of all time.
“For Eli to crack the top five of all time, he’s got to have a 2011 [type] season a couple more times and win another Super Bowl and be Super Bowl MVP, and then I think he’s in the discussion for the top five [quarterbacks] of all time,” Barber said. “As much as you want to try and diminish what he’s done, you can’t. Every stat and conversation point supports what he’s done.”
One fact that is impossible to deny is that Peyton was the more successful of the brothers in 2012. Despite missing the entire 2011 season and switching teams over the summer, the elder of the two Mannings ranked among the NFL’s best in every passing category, while Eli’s Giants stumbled through a lackluster 9-7 season. Not exactly a “clutch” performance.
Barber’s playoff argument is valid, though. Eli’s career record in the postseason is 8-3, while Peyton has gone just 9-11.