You can call Eli Manning an elite quarterback now. Actually, we should have been calling him elite for the past couple seasons.
After Manning just led his New York Giants to another Super Bowl victory, the quarterback was named as the game’s MVP and quite possibly silenced every doubter that has criticized him.
Throughout this season, there had been debate as to what an elite quarterback is and if Manning qualified for that status. San Francisco 49ers quarterback Alex Smith is elite according to his head coach. Are both Manning and Smith elite? Well, after today, the definition of elite has become real clear.
The word elite is used to describe a person or thing that is highly regarded and exclusive. In terms of football, it’s harder to determine what that means. Is it based on statistics? Or is it based the player’s ability to be clutch when in need?
Determining an elite quarterback requires both.
Consider Tom Brady. With his career filled with big wins, big statistics and consistency, Brady is the perfect definition of elite. But for a player like Manning, he doesn’t have those numbers but he is also part of that exclusive club.
What Manning has is the ability to make the plays when they need to be made. He’s the kind of quarterback that you trust at the end of the game. And when it matters the most, he just wins.
Wins is what determines an elite quarterback. And being able to win consistently on the biggest stage, that should be the criteria.
What Manning has done is establish himself as a clutch quarterback. He makes the plays when he needs to and when it’s all said and done, he is a two-time champion. That’s elite.
Applying that criteria to Alex Smith, he hasn’t reached that point yet. He doesn’t have the numbers, but he has been clutch this past season. In fact, his comeback wins this past year put him closer to that elite status.
To reach it, he needs to repeat what he did this year and do it again in 2012. Then again in 2013 and the following years. Add in a Super Bowl win, and that’s elite status.
There are several great quarterbacks in the league that match all of those but don’t have a ring. To be elite, they need to continue playing well and consistently win in the playoffs. A ring puts them in a class of their own.
Defining “elite” is subjective and can still be debated. But ultimately, an elite quarterback gives their team every chance win on the big stage. Winning the Super Bowl this way just makes them the elite of the elites.