No quarterback gets to the NFL without being confident in themselves, but I didn't figure Eli Manning for a guy with this kind of confidence. The irrational, delusional kind, that is.
Michael Kay of ESPN New York 1050 asked Eli on Tuesday if he was in the same class as Tom Brady. Eli hesitated for a second, and then answered in the affirmative.
"I consider myself in that class and Tom Brady is a great quarterback, he's a great player and what you've seen with him is he's gotten better every year and he started off winning championships and I think he's a better quarterback now than what he was, in all honesty, when he was winning those championships."
Eli is wrong, of course. Tom Brady is a better quarterback than Eli Manning, and that's not a criticism of Eli or even a statement of opinion. That's just the way it is. The sun rises in the East, two plus two is four, and Tom Brady is a better quarterback than Eli Manning.
As a handy reference, here are last year's numbers. If you go by them, Eli Manning is less in the Brady class, and more in the Jon Kitna/David Garrard class.
Eli also said, "I'm not a 25-interception quarterback." Here, I'd like to call your attention to the number above highlighted in yellow.
I'm sure he'll do better in 2011. Twenty-five interceptions was a career high for him, and I'm sure he'll shave a few off of that total this season. But the fact is that he could have 20 fewer interceptions, and still have more than Brady.
Not that I fault Eli. If he's that confident, and that willing to offer his honest assessment, then my hat's off to him. He's still really, really wrong, sure, but where's the harm in that? He's a pro athlete. Confidence bordering on irrational is almost a job requirement. We should all believe in ourselves that strongly.
In Eli's defense, too, the radio guy put him in a tough spot. It's an awkward question to answer. If you say yes, you're an egomaniac; if you say no, you lack confidence. The safe way to go is to say something like, "I try not to compare myself to other quarterbacks, I just try to focus on being the best I can be and winning football games for the New York Giants." It's lame and it's vanilla, but it'll keep you out of the headlines.
Eli went 4 of 9 for 36 yards in the Giants first preseason game against Carolina.