Manning went out and had the best season of his eight-year career, leading the Giants to their second Super Bowl appearance since he became the starter. He's also earned the respect of New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and defensive tackle Vince Wilfork, who validated Manning's status as a top-tier quarterback to reporters on Thursday.
"He's a great quarterback," Brady said. "He does everything you're looking for as a quarterback. I've seen it first-hand, what he can do in the fourth quarter of these games. He's done a great job of bringing his team back. He's a great leader. You always hear that coming out of New York; the guys really have a lot of respect for him, and so do I."
"I think Eli is probably playing some of the best football of any quarterback in the game," Wilfork said.
"He can always be compared to some of the greats in the game now because of his production," he added. "He took that team over."
Manning finished the regular season with 4,933 passing yards, 29 touchdowns and 16 interceptions while helping the Giants narrowly make the playoffs with a 9-7 record. In the postseason, he's thrown for 923 yards and eight touchdowns.
"You have seen him grow, not making mistakes, and with the guys surrounding him, all you have to do is not make mistakes," Wilfork said.