The legacy of Eli Manning is obvious.
He’s won two Super Bowls rings – two more than Hall of Famers Dan Marino and Dan Fouts and one more than Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers.
And he won both of them by pulling off fourth-period game winning drives against Bill Belichick and Tom Brady of the New England Patriots. And he cost the Patriots a perfect season in 2007.
But Manning hasn’t consistently put up big numbers over his career, and he’s led the New York Giants to just one playoff game in the last five years since his last Super Bowl appearance in 2011. The Giants lost that playoff game last year to Green Bay 38-13.
And just last week, his second-year coach Ben McAdoo publicly called Manning out for “sloppy’’ play in not getting a fourth-down play off in time and taking a delay penalty.
The website fivethirtyeight.com also published a takedown, calling his career “profoundly mediocre.’’
Seems kind of harsh for a quarterback with two Super Bowl rings and two Super Bowl MVP awards.
The website argues Manning is just one of 10 quarterbacks who’s started in more than 200 games and has led the league in interceptions three times and ranks last of the 10 in many statistical categories.
The website noted he has been in the top ten in passer rating just once in 12 years as a starter, finishing an average of 18th.
In 2013, he finished 35th in passer rating in a 32-team league.
The article argues Manning is a high-risk, high reward passer in the mold of Joe Namath in an era when all the rule changes enable quarterbacks to put up big numbers.
He also doesn’t have Namath’s personality, though, and is quick to take the blame when things go wrong.
Manning didn’t bristle when McAdoo knocked him publicly for failing to get a 4th-and-goal play off in time in the 24-10 loss to the Detroit Lions.
The Giants were trailing 17-7 when McAdoo decided to go for the touchdown. After the delay penalty, they settled for the field goal to cut the deficit to 17-10.
Then in fourth quarter, Brandon Marshall dropped a big second-down pass, and Lions returner Jamal Agnew returned a punt 88 yards for a touchdown and the game was over.
Manning couldn’t be blamed for that, but McAdoo stressed the fourth-down play after the game.
McAdoo said that when he has a veteran quarterback who has played a lot of football, “I expect the ball to get snapped.’’
“I’ve got to call a timeout or get the ball snapped,’’ Manning said. “Any time there is a delay of game, it’s on the quarterback.’’
Playing in the fishbowl in New York, Manning can deal with the criticism.
“He knows I can take it,’’ Manning said of McAdoo’s criticism. “You play 14 years in New York, you’ve been criticized.’’
It doesn’t help that Manning has been sacked eight times in just the first two games.
And Manning and the Giants now head into a critical game in Philadelphia on Sunday.
A loss would drop the Giants to 0-3, and it would be difficult to dig out of that hole and still make the playoffs.
If Manning and the Giants don’t make it this year, they will have just one playoff appearance in the last six years on their resume.
And it will be easy for critics to call him mediocre.
Yet of those other nine quarterbacks who have started 200 games, four of them – Marino, Fran Tarkenton, Warren Moon and Vinny Testaverde — never won a Super Bowl. A fifth, Drew Brees, has one Super Bowl win but, like Manning, is off to a 0-2 start.
Manning, though, delivered twice on the biggest stage in American sports.
You can’t ask a quarterback to do much more than to take the field for the last drive in the Super Bowl, needing a touchdown against Belichick’s Patriots to win.
And Manning has done it twice.
Sorry, but that’s the stat that counts most of all.