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Now that we are almost two decades past the legendary draft class of 2004, many of the stars who shaped my young sports fandom are stepping away from football.

These players, such as Larry Fitzgerald and Ben Rothlisberger are clearly locks for Canton’s first ballot, but there is one player that deserves the same respect; Eli Manning.

Since being traded to New York on draft night, Eli Manning has become the greatest statistical QB in New York Football history –  even better than Joe Namath. Eli has more yards, a much better Touchdown to Interception Ratio (366-244 for Eli 173-220 for Joe) and more Super Bowl rings than the so-called “greatest QB in New York football history”.

Along with this, Manning is one of the more durable players to ever play the game, as he has not missed a start due to injury in his career – and even with the unspeakable Geno game, the record has stood at 210 regular-season games; even standing above his Hall of Fame brother Peyton Manning.

This not only shows his durability and consistency he gave a whole franchise, but it also shows his ability to be a productive Quarterback for almost 15 years; something that is highly touted for his position. 

He has also been the face of the massive New York sports market for this span as well, being named the top jersey seller of all-time for the G-Men. This is a huge deal, as leading the largest city in the United States truly shows how big of an impact he had on people of New York, and hence the whole country. 

While all of these positives for his case, there are detractors to this idea, saying that he was never more than a game manager for the Giants’ impressive running game, during both of Eli’s Super Bowl runs.

And while this may be true to some degree for the regular season, his stats are impressive in the most important game(s) – the Super Bowl – completing 49 of 74 passes, throwing for 551 yards, 3 touchdowns, and one interception in his two Super Bowl MVP performances.

Though, aside from the stats and awards, Eli Manning’s top candidacy to be not only a Hall Of Fame selection, but first ballot, comes with his history of upsets.

He has the most 4th quarter comeback wins by a New York Giants Quarterback in one season, with six, and the most 4th quarter touchdowns in one season by any quarterback, with 15 in 2011.

Most notably, he also upset the greatest dynasty in modern NFL history – the Patriots – not once but twice, with both games coming down to late-game heroics by Eli; including go-ahead, game-winning touchdowns in both of his Super Bowls. 

Instead of focusing on a lame stat like his overall record – which wasn’t helped much by a terrible Giants team late in his career – focus on his remarkable career milestones and accomplishments that make him stand out amongst the NFL’s greatest Quarterbacks. There is no reason why Eli Manning should not be in Canton when eligible.

(P/C: USA Today)