Philadelphia Eagles: Eli Manning was the perfect division rival

(Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)
(Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images) /

As Eli Manning transitions into post-football life, let’s take a look back at the best possible division rival quarterback the Philadelphia Eagles could ask for.

When Eli Manning took the field at the Linc in Week 14, it marked the end of a chapter in his football career.

Facing off against the Philadelphia Eagles for the 33rd time in his career, the youngest Manning brother turned in a classic performance that was 100 percent Eli: Completing 50 percent of his passes for 203 yards and two touchdowns. Manning also took two sacks, which is to be expected due to his lack of even average athleticism, but still, despite playing for a team with a notable talent discrepancy, the 16-year vet kept his club competitive deep into the fourth, when the Eagles finally pulled away and delivered the Giants their 11th loss of the season.

As it turns out, this would be the final loss Manning suffered at the hands of the Eagles, as after 16-years in the business, Archie‘s son has officially retired from the NFL – becoming the rare franchise quarterback to play for one club over his entire career.

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Eli, you will be missed.

Now I know what you are thinking, why waste even a minute lamenting the end of Manning’s career on an Eagles blog? Is that even allowed?

Well first off, yes it is, and two I’m genuinely going to miss watching Manning twice a season. Why you ask? Because he was the perfect division rival quarterback.

A lot has been written about Manning as a player, as a leader, and apparently as a prank king (more on that here), but one aspect that has been sorely overlooked – maybe out of respect – is just how mediocre his NFL career really was.

Sure, he won two Super Bowls, made four Pro Bowls, and was named the 2016 Walter Payton Man of the Year, but despite playing 236 games as a pro, Manning only strung together seven winning seasons. The Giants also never won more than 12 games in a season with Eli in place as their starting quarterback, and that only happened once in 2008.

Manning could win games, sometimes a bunch of them, but he was never elite enough to completely tank the NFC East like Tom Brady in the AFC’s equivalent.

But here’s the thing that made Manning so fantastic: While he was never good enough to thoroughly dominate the NFC East, he was never bad enough to be replaced.

Unlike quarterbacks like, say, Johnny Manziel, who flamed out spectacularly before their rookie contract expired, Manning remained good enough to keep his team in contention while only occasionally being great enough take his team over the top.

Had he played exclusively against the Eagles, maybe that would have changed, as Manning will forever hold a 10-23 record against his in-conference rivals, but for whatever reason, call it loyalty, the Mara family remained committed to first overall pick in the 2004 NFL Draft despite combining for a putrid 9-26 record over his final three seasons in the league.

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So Eli Manning, whatever comes next, I hope you enjoy retirement. Call me sentimental, but I find it incredibly ironic that you finished out your 16-year career with a perfect 117-117 record, a perfectly average record for a perfectly average quarterback.