Former Giants quarterback Phil Simms knew before the words were all the way out of his mouth he stirred something up.
By saying Giants quarterback Eli Manning was “not one of the elites,” he opened up a can of worms about the two-time Super Bowl MVP.
To his credit, he stood by his comments during an interview on WFAN.
“I still said it,” Simms told the Boomer & Carton morning show. “You know, when I got done I could’ve said ‘You know, let’s redo that,’ because at that time we were taping a little segment. But I do stand by how I meant it.”
Simms said he didn’t think it was a shot at Manning, and the difference between a great quarterback and “elite” was “splitting hairs.”
“You know, it makes headlines, but we’re splitting hairs here,” Simms said. “I get it asked all the time, ‘Is so-and-so elite?’ And I go ‘Oh my gosh, please, somebody stick a needle in my eye.’ I’m just tired of answering it and hearing it.
“So I said it. Sorry it’s causing a little firestorm, but that’s the context I said it in.”
Of course, Simms apparently has incredibly high standards for elite, as he said a group of Hall of Famers didn’t meet his criteria.
“‘Elite,’ it’s a new word in the football vocabulary. It really is,” Simms said. “It’s this new thing. I don’t remember hearing it 25-30 years ago. With the way it’s talked about now, Dan Marino was not elite, Warren Moon was never elite, Dan Fouts was not elite. Even though they went to the Hall of Fame, they’re not elite.
“So my thing was, when I think of ‘elite’ I think of great accomplishments with unusual, very good, incredible skills on the field. I didn’t even think about who it would be when I was saying it. Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and I think Aaron Rodgers kind of fits in that mode. And the rest we’ll see about.”
At this point, the best thing would probably just be to retire the “elite quarterback” argument, because if Marino and Moon and Fouts don’t qualify, I’m not sure why we’re still keeping track.