Joe and Eli: Brothers in Arms

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Joe Namath

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Eli Manning

He’s Joe Namath without the llama skin rug, the white shoes and the bravado. Broadway Joe and Easy Eli. Eli Manning plays Richie Cunningham (an older Opie) to Namath’s Fonzie; or Bill Gates to Namath’s Donald Trump. Where Joe squired stewardesses and models around Manhattan every night, Eli stays home and watches Seinfeld reruns with his college sweetheart. From “Hello beautiful” to “Aw shucks.”

But these two guys have more in common than you’d think. Both are New York quarterbacks, first-round draft picks out of the SEC, Namath out of Alabama and Eli from Ole Miss. Both overcame huge Las Vegas odds to become MVPs and lead their teams to stunning upsets in the Super Bowl

Check out these numbers after four years in the league. Namath threw 23 more interceptions and had a lower passing percentage than Manning…but those stats are also products of the times when the two QBs played. Defensive backs had more liberties in the late ’60s than they do today. The games played and touchdown totals are nearly identical, Namath has an edge in passing yards.

Namath 55 G 50.0 Pct. 12,753 YD 78 TD 87 INT
Manning 57 G 54.7 Pct. 11,385 YD 77 TD 64 INT

Makes you wonder, how will Eli’s career play out. Namath played eight more years with Jets and wound up his career in Los Angeles in 1977 with the Rams. He completed just over 50 percent of his passes, throwing for 173 TDs and more than 27,000 yards with 220 interceptions. He was voted to the Hall of Fame in 1985.

Joe Willie never won another Super Bowl — never even came close — but today nearly 40 years after that famous upset of the Colts in Super Bowl III, he’s still revered in sports circles and especially in New York, where he’s got the golden lifetime pass.

The future’s uncertain for Eli, but after four years he’s in mighty good company.

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