There is no day that better illustrates our lack of restraint when it comes to quantifying things than the day after the Super Bowl.
How many conversations have you had today that somehow involved trying to figure out whether or not Eli Manning is elite or where he ranks on the all-time quarterback list? Or whether or not Tom Brady is "done," whatever that means.
And of course, "where does this Super Bowl rank on the all-time list?" Is it one of the greatest Super Bowls ever played or one of the worst? We have to know. It's important.
Where does it rank amongst Giant victories and Patriots losses? (As a Giants fan, with as much perspective as I can muster, I say it has to rank fourth. I mean, the other three were our first-ever SB win, beating the Bills in the best Super Bowl ever and then beating the undefeated Pats last time. Hard to top any of them).
And it's not just the game itself. We have to discuss what the best commercials and worst commercials were this year and where each of those rank all-time as well. If we don't decide right now in this very moment, just hours after it all happened, how will we know?
It's how we operate these days. Some people like to say its social media' fault but that's nonsense. We've been doing this long before there was Twitter. Not to say that the Twitter experience can be marred by such events. Ever been on Twitter after someone dies? Not five minutes go by before everyone lays their final judgement down on the life of a deceased.
If you ever want a reason to explain why Skip Bayless rules ESPN on TV and Colin Cowherd on ESPN radio, this is your answer. Those two numbnuts exemplify the "quick, loud and definitive" way we digest information these days.
The Bleacher Reportification, as it were. If I can't boil it down to a Top Ten Slideshow, it's not worth discussing.
Syracuse Orange basketball fans can find a direct correlation between this and the reaction we had to criticism this season. If you think about it, what mostly pissed us off was everyone's need to put this team in a box. "They're not elite." "They don't have the seven things every championship teams needs." "They're not one of the top three teams in the nation." Maybe people weren't saying those exact phrases but it was the basis for almost all of them.
We're guilty of it too but I think the sane fans among us know that it's a fools errand to assign any label to this Syracuse team. One of the best team's ever? How can you even say that right now? They have yet to play the toughest part of their schedule, the Big East Tournament and the NCAA Tournament. As far as anyone is concerned, we know nothing about this or any other college basketball team right now. There's no way anyone can compare this team to the '03 one or the '10 one because this team has yet to even get close to the finish line.
So why do people do it? Why would someone like Jeff Goodman write a column about how this Kentucky Wildcats team, which hasn't even finished the season yet, could beat an NBA team? Because of the reasons I mentioned up top there. It's how we communicate these days, especially in sports. We need to know if Kentucky can beat the Toronto Raptors, even if it will never happen.
What's great about that column is that there's a chance Kentucky could lose in the 2nd round of the NCAA Tournament this year and no one will ever remember the 2011-2012 Kentucky Wildcats other than UK fans. I mean, remember ESPN's ill-fated series about the USC Trojans football team leading up to their title game against Vince Yong's Texas Longhorns? Each day, ESPN would try to measure whether or not this Trojan squad could beat an all-time great team from the past? In the end, they couldn't even beat the team right in front of them and the entire discussion looked silly.
At this point, when someone takes a shot at Syracuse or ranks us low, our disgust is more of an ironic disgust. At least, to me it is. We went through our phase of taking it so serious and came out the other end with the knowledge that none of their opinions matter because the only thing that matters is who wins the championship at the end of the season.
In the meantime, you can make a fool of yourself and rank this team against the all-time greats. You can try to figure out whether this is the best defense we've ever played. You can even figure out who would win, this team or the 2003 title team if you like. It's all meaningless discussion meant to fill space, newspapers, blogs, airwaves and tweets.
If we're lucky enough to watch this squad go all the way to the National Title game, I could care less whether or not the game is "better" than the 2003 one. All I care about is whether or not we win. You can have your ranking.
And yes, to answer your initial question, Eli Manning is an "elite" quarterback, whatever that means.