America Agrees with Tiki: Eli is Damaged Goods

If you listened to the national sports media, you’d think Eli Manning’s tepid response to the substantive body slam by his former teammate Tiki Barber was meaningful. It was far from that. Over at The Starting Five, they kicked off a great conversation about how the sports media does what they always do – and simply blew the call. I’ve always believed in “looking at the numbers.” In other words, just about everything we do can be quantified in some way or another. Sometimes the best measure is money, sometimes it is best to consider time spent. In the case of prognostication and gambling on fantasy football, it’s best to consider “average draft position.”

The jury is in. Tiki Barber was right and Eli Manning sucks. Manning was the first pick of the draft a few years ago and still looks like the saddest little thing to leave Mississippi since 1865.


According to ESPN, Manning’s average draft position was 12th (excluding a data error for the selection of Michael Vick – probably the result of “auto-picking”.) The quarterbacks selected before Eli Manning were:

  1. Peyton Manning (avg. pick – #6)
  2. Carson Palmer (#17)
  3. Tom Brady (#20)
  4. Drew Brees (#21)
  5. Marc Bulger (#35)
  6. Donovan McNabb (#39)
  7. Matt Hasselbeck (#54)
  8. Vince Young (#62)
  9. Philip Rivers (#69)
  10. Tony Romo (#78)
  11. Matt Leinart (#91)
  12. Elijah Manning (#95)

Last year, Manning threw the ball 522 times (6th most in the league) to some of the more accomplished offensive players in the league. His performance was so abysmal that his attractiveness to thousands of team owners is on life support. Consider the list of QB’s drafted after Eli. Many of these players are either considerably older (Favre, McNair), novices (Jay Cutler, Alex Smith), coming off injuries (Roethlisberger, Trent Green), or playing in run-dominant offenses. At this juncture, his performance has not matched his billing. To borrow from Dick Vermeil, “It’s time to take the diaper off.”

Barber was right. In order to get up off the mat, Eli will have to do much more than offer weak, muffled responses to criticism. He’ll have to produce – and if he does, Tiki Barber will not be the only one who’ll be surprised.


  1. Tiki Barber might have been right about Eli Manning’s passive countenance on the field. He was wrong to talk about it in public. The man’s a cancer. Barber’s the same guy who created a gigantic distraction for his team when he announced his retirement in the middle of the season. ?!?! His entire career was filled with similarly self-serving behavior; remember how he once injected himself into Michael Strahan’s contract negotiations?

    As for Manning, unfortunately, he’ll only get this season to justify all the hype that has surrounded him since before he entered the NFL. Tom Coughlin’s an awful coach; he should have (at least) protected his QB from the public sniping by team viruses like Barber. Quarterbacks, unlike any other position, require special tutelage. The ones who get it — like Brady and Peyton Manning received early in their careers and Philip Rivers receives right now — go on to excel. Those QBs like Michael Vick and (now) Eli Manning who don’t, usually fail to max out their potential.

  2. Eli has alot of potential and he is a skilled player, he isn’t a consistent player yet but I think he can become one. Being the youngest of the Manning football dynasty puts alot of pressure on him, he’s always compared to his brother and his father in the professional league just as they did when he played high school and college ball. People expect him to be as great a player as Peyton is but there are very few who have Peyton’s skill, determination, drive and the opportunities to work with such skilled coaches. I think Eli is at a point in his career where he can really pull it together and prove himself a great QB.

  3. Nice avatar, Ruby. Eli looked decent until I fell asleep last night. He has all the tools to dominate. Let’s see what happens. As long as Big Ben is throwing 4 TDs and Rivers is holding it together against the Bears, the expectations to match them each week will continue.

  4. and this article survives as a historical document only to prove that Super Bowl MVP Eli Manning did inded have knee nibbling critics during his first championship season

  5. He certainly did. And I wrote this after defending his performance in college as a basis for his high draft selection.

    My theory about the evolution of his play is that the injuries to Burress and Shockey made him a better player who was forced to incorporate more players into the game each week. The retirement of Barber created a logjam of viable, diverse running backs. The Giants were so deep at the position, they could afford to jettison Ryan Grant to the Packers. The late season emergence of Ahmad Bradshaw and Steve Smith really helped the Giants — at least as much as did late season injuries to older, slower linebackers who were replaced with speed if not wisdom. This was neither the same team that finished last season or began this one. It was a new group that emerged in the middle of the year – underneath the cover of their own mediocrity and diminished expectations.

    The Giants have had a Super Bowl caliber team for four years. That’s precisely why folks were so displeased with Eli. Today, they’ll kiss and make up in the Canyon of Heroes.

  6. No comments now, Allie, except that if you read the post just above yours, you might not have bothered.

    The Giants didn’t win the Super Bowl because of Eli Manning. They won because of their physical defense and their running game and Eli’s significant reduction in mistakes. He’s beginning to do what his counterparts did years ago…and if you read the thread, you’ll see that everyone recognizes that.

    He’s on his way…he simply needed to conquer the personalities in his locker room. Injuries, a desire to be a media star, and a trade have done what his “force of personality” could not do. In any event, the Giants are better for it.

  7. OK first of all Eli was still a new quaterback when Tiki made this comment and Tiki should have kept his mouth shut about Eli because now it has come around that Tiki was an unimportant part of the team. Jacobs has by far surpassed Tiki’s skill and bradshaw is on the road on success to surpass Tiki. Eli once loosing the pressure of shockey and finally coming in to contact with his team showed he was skilled and this alone should embarress Tiki and teach him a valueable lesson.

  8. From ESPN – letter to Bill Simmons:

    4. New York Giants
    Dear Giants fans,
    Did you notice that Eli suddenly stinks? This is what happens when an ordinary QB doesn’t have the benefit of throwing against an eight-man front that’s stacking the line while his best wide receiver is getting double-covered. Keep looking up — you don’t want him landing on you at 540 mph as he finishes his fall back to earth. Also, keep telling yourself that your seventh-string wide receiver catching a pseudo-Hail Mary off the top of his helmet with your season on the line wasn’t the single luckiest play in sports history. In fact, David Tyree himself just admitted this to me. I’m writing this at an IHOP right now, and he just brought me a plate of blueberry pancakes. Did you know you can work at IHOP when you’re on injured reserve? Apparently so. I have to go because I’m going to throw a cannister of boysenberry syrup at him as hard as I can and see whether he catches it off his head. Worst of luck in the playoffs.
    Bitter Guy

  9. Have your fun four years after the fact, but at the time the post was right on. September of 2007, Eli sucked. He knew it, Tiki knew it, and you knew it. Welcome to the party. See you in 2016.

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