On the November 12 edition of CBS Sports Network’s weekly program “NFL Monday QB,” Phil Simms had this to say about New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning, in the wake of a two-game losing streak:
“No, he is not one of the elites. Because when I hear the word elite, I’m thinking about guys that can make unbelievable plays on the field by themselves. There are very few quarterbacks in that category. So, yes, Eli has been a tremendous team player. He has been MVP of the Super Bowl twice. I know that. But the way I look at it, the answer is no.”
The quotes were about as picked apart as his colleague on the CBS depth chart suggesting the crosstown Jets should cut one Tim Tebow.
Fast forward to Sunday, and the A-block of “The NFL Today,” where a visibly agitated Simms cleared the air on the definition of the word “elite” with regards to Eli Manning. He says that a trio of other active quarterbacks in Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, and Eli’s brother Peyton, were at a higher echelon than Eli, based on “what they’ve done on the field, what they’ve shown this year, and consistently, through their whole careers.
“Now, everybody out there’s gonna go, ‘Oh, Phil’s backtracking’,” Simms suggested. “That is far from the truth. I am not backtracking one bit. I’m just trying to clarify it, because this word “elite” – man, it just drives everybody crazy, but that’s the new word, how we define players in the NFL.”
Simms also said he wasn’t trying to take anything away from the younger Manning, saying “he’s on his way to a Hall of Fame career.”
View the full transcript of the rapport between Simms and “NFL Today” host James Brown below.
JAMES BROWN: You know what, when Phil [Simms] sneezes, people listen. So, Phil, earlier this week, you said that Eli Manning is not an elite quarterback. And, of course, last year, regarding Andrew Luck, Boomer [Esiason] reminded me that you told us, you just don’t see him making big-time NFL throws.
BOOMER ESIASON: [scoffs] Oh, don’t blame it on me.
BROWN: So, we want to make sure that you still think, according to “Coach” [Bill Cowher], and Shannon [Sharpe], that Tom brady is a decent quarterback.
PHIL SIMMS: Well, I’m really laughing my head off over all this stuff, that’s really funny. Let me just say that. Let me just get — let me go back to these comments, I don’t have time to address them all, because I’d like to. But let’s go with this Eli comment. Let’s think about it this way. Let me clarify it for everybody out there, so they can understand it. Let’s say they’re all elite in the NFL. My premise in the whole thought was, if you listened to the whole thing, is I was trying to distringuish Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers, from the rest of the group. Period. That was it. Can we understand that these three guys, what they’ve done on the field, what they’ve shown this year, and consistently, through their whole careers, that they can get it done… They do not have down periods. Now, everybody out there’s gonna go, “Oh, Phil’s backtracking.” That is far from the truth. I am not backtracking one bit. I’m just trying to clarify it, because this word “elite” – man, it just drives everybody crazy, but that’s the new word, how we define players in the NFL. Now, for Eli Manning, it was no disrespect to him at all, I didn’t mean any, I respect what he’s done as a player. My gosh, to stay on the field for every game and not get hurt? That alone puts you in the Hall of Fame. He’s on his way to a Hall of Fame career. I know he has two Super Bowl MVP’s, so it’s not a disrespect to him at all. I was defining the word “elite” to try to signify those three guys (Brady, Peyton Manning, Rodgers), that they stand out in my eyes. Now, define that word. Anything else you want me to define, J.B.?
BROWN: Phil, you were just a little too soft in speaking about that. Can you be a bit more definitive?