I really don’t want to write this.
It is no secret amongst sports fans that prominent figures in sports media enjoy rehashing the same debates and the same discussion topics over and over again, until their readers and viewers would rather beat themselves with a sledge hammer than see the words “LeBron vs. Jordan” one more time. Anyone who has had the pleasure of viewing an episode of First Take, Undisputed, Get Up—or any of the 17,000 other virtually identical programs on ESPN, ESPN 2, FS1, NFL Network, NBCSN, CBS Sports, and NBA TV—knows that they tend to hear names like LeBron James, Dallas Cowboys, and Tom Brady ad nauseam. I know I’m coming off as harsh, but admittedly I’ve never really had too much of a problem with this. I’m aware that the people in charge of these programs are simply doing whatever it takes to get viewers to watch. And if you’re one of those people who thinks “well, they would get more people to watch if they stopped talking about the same things over and over again,” I have some news for you: You’re wrong. I am baffled by the comments I see under Youtube videos of First Take or Undisputed clips that say “all they do is talk about the same fucking things, this show sucks!” These comments usually have hundreds or even thousands of likes on them. But what these people need to realize is the producers of these shows don’t see that and think “wow they sound angry, we should probably make a change,” they think “nice, thousands of people watched our clip and had a such a strong reaction to it that we got a lot of engagement in the comments.” Because the truth is they don’t care if you’re hate-watching their shows or watching them because you actually enjoy them, the only thing that matters to them is that you’re watching.
Truthfully, I don’t really watch these shows I’m referring to that often. But when I do, I try to view them for what they are, which is great entertainment. If you can’t look at these shows, their overzealous hosts/analysts/commentators/personalities(whatever the fuck Skip Bayless’ job title is), and their way-too-serious fans on Twitter and Youtube through a comedic lens, then you have a big dump in your pants and you need to calm down. As a sports fan, I can appreciate irrational emotionality as much as the next guy. But if you watch a Stephen A. Smith clip and get legitimately angry at his sports take then you’re missing the point. He’s an entertainer. His job is to illicit a reaction out of his viewers and say what you will about the guy, but he’s really good at it.
Now it’s confession time. Even though I firmly believe most of the current sports media landscape is silly and shouldn’t be taken too seriously, there is one debate that has always triggered me just a little bit. Yes, I’m referring to the “Is Eli Manning a Hall of Famer?” debate. As a Giants fan, I have been forced to listen to, and participate in, this debate for the last eight years or so—really since Eli won his second Super Bowl. And the reason I started this blog off with “I really don’t want to write this,” is because I am absolutely exhausted by it. Throughout the second half of Eli’s career, sports shows managed to bring this topic up literally every single time something notable happened with the Giants. If they made the playoffs, if they won a big game, if they lost a big game, if Eli made a pro bowl, if they fired a coach, if they hired a coach, if they had a high draft pick, somehow it always led back to this question. For many years, I would fervently make the case that, yes, Eli does indeed belong in the Hall of Fame. I would defend my position to anyone who felt otherwise, and sure, I would get triggered when those in the media would make the argument that he was not a hall of famer. Then one day I came to a realization, every single point that could be made in this debate, on either side, has already been made. Every time I saw this debate play out on a show I realized that they were having the exact same conversation they had six months ago, and six months before that, and six months before that—almost to the word. That is when I decided to shift my perspective when it comes to this debate. I still absolutely believe Eli Manning deserves to be in the Hall of Fame one day, but now when this question is brought up my answer is simply “it does not matter.” Because the truth is, Eli Manning is going to be a Hall of Famer whether you like it or not, so let’s stop having the same debate over and over again for no reason. (He says while writing a blog entitled “Is Eli Manning a Hall of Famer?” Fucking Hypocrite.)
When I say, “Eli Manning is going to be a Hall of Famer whether you like it or not,” I don’t mean to sound like a cocky, defensive Giants fan with an Eli shrine in his house. If I wanted to sound like that I would just explore my take that Eli actually has a much more interesting personality than Peyton, who is scared to take the Monday Night Football job because people will find out he’d actually be a pretty boring commentator. But we don’t need to discuss that right now, let’s get back to the point at hand. What I meant by my statement is, the reasons why someone feels like Eli should not make the Hall of Fame as well as the reasons why I feel he should make the Hall of Fame are sort-of irrelevant. Those reasons are not worth being heard, and this debate is not worth being had, because the truth is Eli making the Hall of Fame is an inevitability at this point. As someone who has friends who are Eagles fans and Jets fans, I have heard all the reasons why Eli does not deserve this honor. Honestly, some of their points are fair. But that is not going to change the fact he’ll be in the Hall one day. Because here’s the thing: Eli is currently top seven all time in passing yards, passing completions, and passing touchdowns; He has two Super Bowl wins, one against the 18-0 Patriots, and two Super Bowl MVPs; He played for 16 seasons in the biggest media market in the world, started 210 consecutive games, and his last name is Manning—he’s making the Hall of Fame. I’m not saying it’s necessarily right, I’m not saying it’s necessarily wrong, I’m just saying that’s the way it is. And to all the Eli haters out there, if I can admit that part of the reason why he’s going to make the Hall of Fame is because he played in NY, his last name is Manning, and he beat one of the greatest teams of all time in one of the most memorable Super Bowls of all time, can you agree to stop yelling about how he’s overrated?
(Some more league records and stats just for the fun of it.)
I’m certain I can’t be the only person who is sick of this debate. My hope is that we can put it to bed on the day Eli actually gets inducted into the Hall of Fame. But to be honest, I can see a world in which a reanimated Stephen A. and Skip are still having this debate in the year 2060. Can’t wait!