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Robinson: I'd take Eli Manning over anyone in big game

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Despite his uneven play over the years and the market he's toiled in for over a decade, I feel Eli Manning has been a largely sympathetic figure in the eye of sports media and teammates. Two Super Bowl trophies will buy an awful lot of equity.

On Sunday during a discussion on NFL GameDay Morning First, we heard a little bit more of the same lines during a discussion about Manning's recent performances. Former teammate Shaun O'Hara lauded his toughness and mental makeup, saying that his true value is in his ability to shake off bad games.

But then former Seahawks fullback Michael Robinson and NFL Network analyst, theoretically an impartial observer, added this:

"I'll tell you one thing," Robinson said. "Just watching from afar, if I was a current player and I was in a big game, there wouldn't be another quarterback I would want on the field. I'm thinking about it. Maybe Russell (Wilson). Maybe. I'm just thinking about what they're actually doing on the field. Leading their teams back. Eli, the accuracy, the way he leads in pressure situations, he makes you want to follow him."

Having covered the Giants for a few years as a beat reporter, this is what you would expect to hear from O'Hara, or Justin Tuck, or Michael Strahan -- any number of retired legends who played with Manning. For a long time, it felt like they were simply running to Manning's defense in an effort to revise history and boost Manning's credentials among the greatest quarterbacks of his era. Hearing it from Robinson adds a different perspective.

Manning will likely end up in the Hall of Fame and is a fine quarterback, but he's behind his contemporaries (Philip Rivers and Ben Roethlisberger) significantly in key stats like passer rating (Manning is more than 10 points below Rivers and Roethlisberger) and completion percentage. He's 54 interceptions ahead of Roethlisberger and 60 ahead of Rivers. The argument can be made that some of his defining Super Bowl moments were more about the exceptional effort given by his wide receivers (David Tyree and the helmet catch) than Manning's individual talent.

As Robinson puts it, none of that really matters. Perhaps it is just the way Manning inspires the belief that something like the helmet catch can happen again. Maybe that type of undefinable comfort is worth more than we realize.

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