Quarterback Kurt Warner retired two years ago with a body of work that likely will put him in Canton. If he gets there, he may not be welcoming Eli Manning with open arms.
In an appearance with Burns and Gambo on Arizona Sports 620 in Phoenix, Warner made the case against Eli’s potential induction into the Hall of Fame.
“I fully disagree with that,” Warner said of talk that Eli will get in. “You know because I know we put a lot of weight on championships, and rightfully so. But championships are won as a team, and I’m fully convinced of that. You never see one guy — a great player, great quarterback — carry a team through the playoffs and into a Super Bowl and win a Super Bowl that way. I’ve never seen it. You know even in that game [Super Bowl XLVI], it’s 21-17. That’s the game. There wasn’t a quarterback just up and down the field carrying the team.
“Yeah, he made the plays down the stretch, no question about it,” added Warner, who spent the 2004 season with Eli in New York. “He’s had two great playoff runs, or his team has had two great playoff runs. But I also look at the rest of his career. I mean, he has an 82 . . . quarterback rating throughout his career. You know, he’s had five of his eight seasons where he has thrown 16 interceptions or more. His completion percentage on his career is 58 percent. To me, those aren’t Hall of Fame numbers and by that I mean every time you step on the field you’re a game changer, you’re a difference maker. And I don’t believe Eli Manning has been that guy until this year. I think this year is the first time in his career when he’s become that guy.”
Warner said that, if Eli performs like he did this year for five more seasons, then he’ll be worthy of inclusion among the league’s all-time greats. Without that, Warner thinks Eli should be kept out due to the fact that he has been “extremely inconsistent throughout his career.”
It’s persuasive stuff, despite the potential bias that a guy like Warner may have when it comes to setting the bar for inclusion. Warner won only one Super Bowl, and he’s less than 5,000 passing yards and only 23 touchdown passes ahead of Eli. But Warner was twice the league MVP, which under his own explanation of what it takes to get to Canton makes his career seem more impressive.
I’m not saying Warner is twisting the standard to suit his own interests deliberately, but it’s normal where there’s no clear, objective formula to define greatness in a way that enhances the great things the person providing the definition has done. Warner has been a “game changer” more often than Eli, even though Eli has won two Super Bowls — and two Super Bowl MVP awards — and barring injury Eli’s final career stats likely will dwarf Warner’s.
But at least Warner is willing to take a position publicly and defend it, unlike the 44 men and women who under the cover of the Hall of Fame’s by laws can’t be compelled to provide details regarding why they’ve voted the way they’ve voted, and why others in the room have cast their own ballots.