Written By Perry Griffith IV
This summer, Tiger Woods showed signs of roaring back to his old self of 10+ years ago, coming close to winning the British Open and PGA Championship. At least one more major win before Tiger calls it quits would be impressive in my eyes considering how bleak his game and health has looked this decade.
The NFL has its own group of players in similar career situations, where they’re nearing the end of their careers with at least one Super Bowl win a while ago, but could use one more after seeing a dip in their recent performances. Three guys for me come to mind: Eli, Flacco and Brees.
Eli’s career has had its ups and downs, but his career as a commercial thespian has remained consistently outstanding. From roles of fooling around with Peyton during their ESPN studios tour to “dirty dancing” with Odell Beckham Jr., he’s attempted to surpass the acting chops of Peyton in a career-long rivalry that’s perhaps more fierce than the one on the field. But I’ll save the in-depth acting reviews for another time.
Eli has two remarkable Super Bowl wins over the nearly two-decade long dynasty of Brady, Belichick and the Patriots, including the 18-0 team. Beyond his Super Bowl wins though, he’s had a number of disappointing seasons and awkward off-the-field situations. It’s odd to hear a fan want to ditch a two-time champion, but I’ve heard it from some Giants fans at various points in the 37-year-old’s career.
The Giants are certainly trying to gear Eli with young, tremendous talent in OBJ and Saquon Barkley. Barkley’s selection speaks volumes to the team’s commitment to Eli in his late thirties when they could’ve taken Sam Darnold as their future QB. Although I think Eli be inducted for the impressiveness of his two Super Bowls, there’s a sense of doubt for some about his Hall of Fame status. One more Super Bowl win (or possibly appearance) would cement his place in the Hall.
Flacco surprised a lot of people with his Super Bowl win that got Ray Lewis his second ring before his ride off into the sunset. Despite his championship though, the argument of how to think of Flacco’s career has essentially become a meme for the web to have a chuckle at.
His elite-status isn’t looking so hot following the 2017 season when he had the fewest passing yards since his rookie season, compared to his other 16-game seasons. He’s now played more seasons since his Super Bowl than before his Super Bowl. Unlike the Giants and Saints, the Ravens’ front office has even applied pressure to their veteran QB by drafting his potential replacement, Heisman-winner Lamar Jackson. Joe doesn’t have much of a choice now: elite or bust.
The guy is an obvious Hall of Famer, but wouldn’t one more Super Bowl win really boost the perception of his career? I’m talking a boost to the realm of guys like Peyton Manning and John Elway… I consider him to be currently just a notch below those guys.
2017 was a down year for him compared to his typical seasons. His 4334 passing yards last year were the fewest since his days as a Charger, and his 23 passing TDs were his fewest since 2003. It’s also been over eight years since he won his ring.
Unlike Eli and Flacco though, I don’t view there being much pressure on Brees from the Saints’ fan base. He’s already cemented himself in New Orleans as the franchise’s legendary player for bringing in their first Lombardi Trophy, and his statue is likely already finished somewhere. Although he’s 39 years old, you don’t really get a sense that his playing days will be over too soon. With his overall consistency and proven ability to stay healthy, I believe he’s the most likely to make that “Tiger-like” comeback.