He’ll probably always play second fiddle to his big brother, even if he does have one more Super Bowl MVP award on his mantle place.
But Eli Manning, who returns to his hometown Sunday along with fellow Newman graduate Odell Beckham Jr. and the rest of the New York Giants to face the Saints, can add a pretty impressive achievement to his list of accomplishments with a victory.
One more gives Eli 96 in regular-season games his 12 years as the quarterback of the Giants. That would be a franchise record for a team whose history goes back to 1925.
Plus, it would put the spotlight on one of the NFL’s underrated partnerships.
Manning and Giants coach Tom Coughlin will be making their 175th QB/head coach regular-season start together Sunday, a streak that began midway through the 2004 season.
That’s the third most in NFL history, behind only Tom Brady and Bill Belichick with 213 and 184 by Dan Marino and Don Shula.
Since the run start started, the Giants’ three NFC East opponents have had a collective 31 different starters. Another 137 have quarterbacks started at least one NFL game since then.
And those starts have been made without interruption, making Manning first among all current players regardless of position.
Eli’s 174 straight starts trail only Brett Favre’s 297 and Peyton’s 208 in league history.
And it doesn’t figure to end any time soon. In September, Eli signed a four-year, $84 million contact extension that keeps him among the highest-paid players in the game.
For comparison’s sake, the Drew Brees and Sean Payton partnership stands at 133 games, 149 if you include the 2012 season, which the NFL considers Payton as the head coach despite his suspension but the Saints do not.
Either way, Brees, who was Eli’s teammate for about 10 minutes before the San Diego Chargers dealt Manning to the Giants in the bizarre 2004 draft, is in admirer.
“Eli is a guy who has always been there and has always been on the mainstays,” Brees said Wednesday. “I think he’s extremely intelligent.
“Whatever system he’s been in, you see him executing it very well. He knows where his answers are and knows where to go with the ball.”
Plus, consider that Eli has survived in the pressure cooker of playing in New York for a dozen years.
And, for famously grumpy coach Tom Coughlin, who can’t say enough good things about his QB.
“It’s been outstanding,” Coughlin said. “I’m talking about the way in which he approaches his job, the way he works with other players, the way he takes instruction.
“He’s been a super representative of the New York Giants for all these years and he’s an outstanding individual in the community. You couldn’t ask for a better man in that role.”
That admiration has carried through the rough patch the Giants have been in since winning Super Bowl XLVI in 2012.
They haven’t made the playoffs since, and while their 4-3 record following last week’s 27-20 victory against the Dallas Cowboys left them atop the NFC East, Manning’s performances have been inconsistent.
After setting career records for attempts (54) and completions (41) along his third-highest yardage total (441) in a 30-27 victory against San Francisco on Oct. 11, Manning threw for only 166 yards with two interceptions in a desultory 27-7 loss to Philadelphia the following week.
Sunday’s game against Dallas wasn’t any better — 13 of 24 and 157 yards and no touchdowns.
But the Giants took advantage of three interceptions to pull out a 27-20 victory.
It’s all been part of adjusting to a new system installed last year by offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo, who brought in the one he’s used to great effect with Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay.
Manning insists he’s comfortable, but frustrated with the offense.
“We have to get going again with the passing attack,” he said. “We didn’t have many plays or opportunities last week.
“But we’re capable of going out there, running it efficiently and putting some points on the board.”
Of course it would help to have a healthy Beckham, whose 16 receiving TDs since his first appearance five games into the 2014 season is tops in the NFL.
The former LSU standout who was the Giants first-round draft pick in 2014, has had to deal with hamstring issues this season which had prevented him from practicing the past two weeks.
He had only four catches for 35 yards in the Cowboys game.
The return of Beckham and a healthier Victor Cruz makes the Giants the team to beat in the NFC East — at least until the Cowboys get Tony Romo and Dez Bryant back.
And at this stage of his career Manning, who owns 45 Giants passing records, said that winning far exceeds any personal accomplishments.
And winning Sunday would accomplish something Eli’s thus far been unable to do — win a game in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
He’s 0-2 in the building where his father, Archie, toiled for the Saints.
Newman never played in the Dome when Eli was in high school and neither did Ole Miss during his college days.
Those two Dome appearances weren’t close either — 48-27 Saints in 2007 and 49-24 Saints in 2009.
“They’ve put up a lot of points in those games,” said Manning, who is 2-1 against the Saints on his home turf. “They were playing good football on those days, and we didn’t play as well as we needed to.”
Will this time be different?
Never count the kid they still call “Easy” out.