Retired New York Giants running back Tiki Barber is no stranger to controversial comments on quarterback Eli Manning. In fact, some of his post-retirement statements about Easy E have stood the test of time, never to be forgotten or forgiven by the Big Blue faithful. However, with frustration boiling and much of the blame for the 2013 season being focused on Manning, the reaction to Barber's most recent comments will be interesting to see.
While appearing on WFAN on Thursday, Barber was asked about Eli, his ability and his legacy. With two Lombardi Trophies and two Super Bowl MVP awards, is Eli Manning a "great" quarterback? Barber doesn't think so.
“He’s done great things, but he doesn’t do it consistently,” Barber said. “What makes someone great in the history, in the annals of an organization or a league? It’s consistency. … That's the problem with Eli, as of late, I think, is there’s something physically off. There’s definitely a confidence issue.”
But, perhaps, the better question is: who's to blame?
It's easy to point fingers at the gunslinging quarterback, but football is a team sport and you're only as good as your supporting cast. It's for that reason, Barber says, that Manning's inconsistency should come with an asterisk.
“And that has nothing to do with him. It has everything to do with those five guys — and really it’s been eight over the course of this year — in front of him that just can’t get it done. He’s constantly throwing off his back foot. I feel like he’s pressing sometimes to make some throws and they end up sailing on him," Barber added. "It’s because of confidence and I think because he’s gotten the crap beat out of him.”
Say what you will about Eli, but there's no denying that this season has taken a physical toll on him. He's already been sacked a career-high 38 times and there's still one game remaining.
But, despite all that, Barber believes Manning can rebound and that his window for greatness is not yet closed.
“I’ve counted Eli out before and I’ve been wrong,” Barber said. “Here’s what I know about him. He has a drive, and maybe it’s a Manning thing … There’s a drive within him that sees him be able to grow and learn from things that he’s done wrong … I think it is fixable. And you talk, really, about the window for Eli. … Is it still open for him to have great success in the next three or four years? I think it is.”
It would be difficult to look at Manning's body of work and think he can't rebound after this poor season. Then again, perhaps it's just blind faith, but we feel Eli has at least one more Super Bowl victory left in him.
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