When Tom Brady's New England Patriots face Eli Manning's New York Giants in Super Bowl XLVI, more will be decided than just which team is the best in the NFL. The game should also show who is the true elite quarterback.
The controversy began last summer when Eli, answering a question posed by ESPN New York Radio host Michael Kay about his place among the league's QBs, said he was in the same class as Brady. He took heat for the comment, considering he finished the 2010 season with a league-high 25 interceptions. But now Eli is making his critics eat their words, having led his injury-plagued 2011 Giants team from the brink of elimination to Super Bowl 46. He has thrown 15 fourth-quarter touchdowns — an NFL record — and knocked off defending champions the Green Bay Packers and the menacing San Francisco 49ers on his way to face the Pats in the big game for the second time in four years.
While impressive, Manning still has a ways to go before he catches up with his New England counterpart. With three championships and countless records broken, including most regular season touchdowns and most pass completions in a Super Bowl, Brady is an undisputed future Hall of Famer. Many see him as the prototypical big game quarterback who, alongside coach Bill Belichik, has established one of the greatest dynasties in football. His charm and charisma off the field have landed him lucrative endorsement deals, as well as the hearts of Bridget Moynahan and Gisele Bundchen.
So who is the NFL's most elite quarterback? Some say he's not even playing on Sunday.