Phil Simms clarifies statement that Eli Manning is not 'elite'

Eli Manning celebrates a touchdown by Henry Hynoski Eli Manning celebrates a touchdown by Henry Hynoski during a game against the Dallas Cowboys at Cowboys Stadium. (Oct. 28, 2012) Photo Credit: Getty Images

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When Eli Manning called himself an elite quarterback last summer, he claimed he had no idea that it would create the stir that it did.

When Phil Simms de-elited Manning on Monday, at least he knew he would be making headlines.

"I can say with all honesty, as it was coming out of my mouth I went, 'Oh boy, this will really create some controversy,' " Simms told Boomer Esiason and Craig Carton on WFAN on Wednesday morning. "But I still said it. You know, I could have, like I've done, could have said 'You know, let's redo that,' because at that time we were taping a little segment."

He did not.

"I do stand by how I meant it," he said.

Simms, on CBS Sports Network's show NFL Monday QB, said that Manning is not one of the game's elite quarterbacks. "When I hear the word 'elite,' I'm thinking about guys that can make unbelievable plays on the field by themselves," he said.. "There are very few quarterbacks in that category. So yes, Eli has been a tremendous team player. He has been MVP of the Super Bowl twice. I know that. But the way I look at it, the answer is no."

On Wednesday, Simms reiterated that context.

"When I think of 'elite,' I think of great accomplishments with unusual, very good, incredible skills on the field," Simms said on the radio. "I didn't even think about who it would be, but when I was saying, you know, Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, and I think Aaron Rodgers kind of fits in that mold. The rest we'll see about."

Simms said the term "elite" is all about "splitting hairs" and that he wasn't taking a shot at Manning. Of course one person's definition of elite will be different from another's.

"I get it asked all the time, 'Is so-and-so elite?' " Simms said. "And I go 'Oh my gosh, please, somebody stick a needle in my eye.' I'm just tired of answering it and hearing it.

"So I said it. Sorry it's causing a little firestorm, but that's the context I said it in."

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