Excuse me while I tilt at yon windmill.
Now that the season is over and Eli Manning has won his second Super Bowl MVP award, I invite my fellow Dallas fans to join me and congratulate him and his fans. I also would request that those in the BTB community watch out for those, including the random New York Giants fans who drop in, who want to start an argument about whether he or Tony Romo is the best quarterback. (Trolls, as always, don't count.) If the Giants fans want to gloat a bit, they do have a point, called the Lombardi Trophy. And if they say Eli is elite and Tony isn't, we can concede a certain legitimacy to the first point without having to agree with the second. Look, I fully understand that many here want to defend any perceived slurs against the guy you root for. There is just one problem.
It is, in this case and when all is said and done, a silly and pointless argument.
And while I am fully aware that I am wasting my time, I just have to get this off my chest. Nobody is going to prove anything, no matter how many statistics they drag out. When it all comes down to it, it is a matter of who you root for, and how you see performances. It's not really a matter of who is measurably the best at passing the ball or reading the defense.
When you dissect the numbers, and listen to a variety of analysts, particularly some former pro quarterbacks, the logical conclusion seems to be that they are both very good quarterbacks. There is only one real difference.
Of course, I'm not going to give it up before the jump. That's what you call a tease.
The difference is called success. In the NFL, success is measured by win/loss records. Ultimate success is measured by those very expensive rings that are given out to the players whose teams win the Super Bowl. Right now, Eli Manning is extremely successful. Tony Romo is not.
That does not say that Tony Romo is less talented than Eli Manning. My read on them, at least for this past season, is that they are very close in pure talent and skill. The issue that drives me crazy is that the past season was not all about Eli. Or Tony. But you don't see animated discussions about Victor Cruz versus Laurent Robinson, or DeMarcus Ware versus Jason Pierre-Paul. Just Eli versus Tony.
Unfortunately, the only position in the NFL that gets its own won/loss record is the quarterback (and not all sites recognize it, but most seem to). It is the position that gets way too much credit for the wins, and far too much blame for the losses. Oh, certainly, the guy who calls the signals is the one who generally handles the ball on every play (right after the center gives it to him), and he has arguably the most important job on the majority of plays.
But he does not do it all by himself. Even the chosen one (by the media), Tim Tebow, has found that he cannot win games all by his lonesome, no matter how much willpower and enthusiasm he has. Ten other players have to do their job, and the best quarterback in the world cannot carry the team to success without them. Especially with an awkward throwing motion, but I digress.
Just ask the Mannings.
It has long been argued that Peyton Manning is the best quarterback in the NFL. He serves as his own offensive coordinator. He is capable of marvelous split-second decision-making and pinpoint passes. Up until his health sidelined him, he was considered by many to be the best at what he did in the past decade. And yet, he now has to live with his brother, who has won twice as many championships as he has. Little brother Eli has succeeded more. If it was all the quarterback, then surely Peyton would have at least as many rings as Eli. But he doesn't. It seems that a quarterback can only overcome so much. If he does not have a team playing with him that is capable of winning games, the best arm in the world will not take that quarterback to success.
Peyton and Eli should both know that better than anyone. All they have to do is ask Dad.
Archie Manning is arguably the least successful outstanding quarterback in the history of the NFL. He played most of his seasons with the New Orleans Saints, back when their unofficial nickname was the Aints, and the unofficial fan uniform was a paper bag over the head. He had a career record of 35-101-3. His team was so bad, that he was named the UPI (an old competitor of AP) NFC Player of the year in 1979 for leading the team to a 7-9 record. He could really throw the ball, and both Peyton and Eli better be forever thankful that they both got his genes and the benefit of him teaching them the game. But all that talent couldn't bring him one winning season.
If Archie could have been the quarterback of, say, the 1970s Dallas Cowboys, would he have been a winner? With the other ten players that Roger Staubach had to work with offensively, and some other guys known as Doomsday, could he have maybe won a championship or two?
You would certainly think so. You can't know for sure, of course, because that never happened. But you just figure he could have been as successful as Roger was with the other talent on the field, and a fellow named Tom Landry coaching.
So what would have happened if Tony Romo and Eli Manning had swapped places this year? Is it more likely that the Cowboys would have found themselves going to the Super Bowl? Or would Tony Romo have found himself the MVP in Indianapolis?
We don't know. It's all speculation - but frankly, I think the other 52 guys have a lot more to do with the success or failure of a team than the one guy calling the plays in the huddle. His play may have a bit more of an effect than any one other player - but just a bit. I don't think Eli could have carried the rest of the 2011 Dallas Cowboys to a trophy. And I think the 2011 New York Giants would likely have still been there at the end with Tony at their helm.
As a very wise man has repeatedly said around here (well, more or less), it's called a "team" sport for a reason.
A quarterback can throw the best pass in the world, but if the receiver drops it, it does no good. Tony knows. A fellow named Tom Brady knows. And Eli knows, too.
So the argument about who is the best quarterback may be entertaining to some (me, I'm a bit tired of it, if you haven't guessed by now), but it is ultimately unresolvable. Until someone figures out how to have each quarterback play identical seasons with identical teams and coaching staffs and stadiums and referees, it will always be something that cannot be fully proven.
Right now, only one thing is certain. Eli Manning is the most successful quarterback in the NFL for the 2011 season. He won the ultimate prize, and he got the MVP, which is awarded to quarterbacks about 90% of the time, whether they really deserve it or not. He is in that elite group (as much as it hurts to say that) who have one more than one ring. And I am not one who attributes it all to luck, because I am one of those who thinks you tend to make your own luck.
Tony Romo has not been terribly successful. I think he has been very good, but right now, he has more in common with Archie Manning than he does with Eli or Peyton. I hope he gets the teammates he needs to have that kind of success, because I firmly believe he is capable of it, and I know he is working as hard as he knows how to get there.
But the next time someone starts to argue about who is the best quarterback, I'm not going to play. I'll just say that Eli is a two-time winning quarterback in the Super Bowl. He deserves all the credit in the world, because being an NFL quarterback is one of the most demanding tasks imaginable, which is why they get so much money to play. It is stupid to wail and moan and claim he sucks, because if hoisting two Lombardi's sucks, I want to see just what your definition of not sucking is. I'll also say that I would not trade Tony for him, because I have faith that Tony is not the problem for the Dallas Cowboys.
So I don't want to hear how badly our man sucks, either. He has not succeeded yet, but it is not because of a lack of talent or effort. I am hoping he will succeed, very soon.
Along with those other 52 guys.