The NFL Network’s Top 100 list has done what it was created to do: stoke controversy and conversation at a time when the NFL news is at a low ebb. One of the more notable omissions from the list was two-time Super Bowl MVP Eli Manning, who—against all expectation and conventional wisdom—is one hell of a reliable quarterback.
Giants defensive tackle Damon Harrison took to the airwaves to defend his QB, gently noting that perhaps there are flaws with a list that ranks a second-year quarterback (Dak Prescott) at No. 14 while leaving a two-time Super Bowl winner (and victor in both matchups so far with Prescott) off the list entirely.
“It makes no sense [to keep Manning off the list] when at the same time we’ve got rookies from last year [on the list],” Harrison said, dodging a chance to take a shot at Prescott directly. “I guess [the list] makes sense if you go off the year  alone.”
Harrison made a savvy observation about Manning: that consistent excellence becomes, well, routine and expected. And that very consistency starts to work against the player. Harrison pointed to another multi-ring star as an example, a guy who by all rights ought to be the NBA MVP every single year, in and out:
“When you look at Eli, it’s kind of like when you look at LeBron [James],” he said. “I’m not saying they’re the same, but look at Eli’s numbers. If any other quarterback would have those numbers it would be an amazing year. But it being Eli, no one is respecting it much like we do LeBron. LeBron could average 30 [points], 15 rebounds and 12 assists and it’s like ‘he didn’t do enough.'”
Now, it’s important to note that Harrison is not saying that Eli is as good as LeBron. (Though I sure would appreciate my teammate saying that, even if it wasn’t true.) He’s saying that Eli’s consistency—the QB has not missed a game in an astonishing 13 years—and his reliable production have come to be expected, just like LeBron’s excellence, and thus neither player gets the respect he deserves. (Plus, Eli has two rings, just one behind LeBron.)
Twisting Harrison’s words into “Eli is as good as LeBron!” is good for idiotic clicks and mindless sports-radio yapping, but we all know it’s not the truth, a fact that Harrison himself later addressed on Monday:
To the media outlets with manipulating headlines about what I said, you're welcome. Someone may actually click and read your writing 4 once
— Damon Harrison (@BigDame900) July 10, 2017
Eh, Eli’s used to the disrespect, Dame. Just be content with the fact that your guy will keep you in the postseason mix all year long.
Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports and the author of EARNHARDT NATION, on sale now at Amazon or wherever books are sold. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or find him on Twitter or on Facebook.