Now there is no debate.
The Giants quarterback is a two-time Super Bowl champion. He is willing to take off the helmet and let the masses see there is more to Elisha Nelson Manning than the reserved Southerner with a big right arm.
Manning, following in the footsteps of his brother Peyton and the Patriots’ Brady, will host “Saturday Night Live” on May 5.
“I’m going to keep my day job,’’ he said jokingly.
2012 GIANTS SCHEDULE
Yesterday, Manning was the celebrity of celebrities at BTIG’s 10th annual Commissions for Charity Day in Midtown, which has raised about $20 million benefitting hundreds of charities.
Surrounded by the likes of Joe Namath, Mariano Rivera and John McEnroe, it was Manning who found himself surrounded by autograph seekers and well wishers. He is embracing his new life as an elite quarterback.
“It’s been a wild year in a lot of different ways,’’ Manning told The Post. “From a career standpoint, you know last year I was coming off a rough year, a lot of interceptions, [we] didn’t make the playoffs again. I knew I needed to play better football than what I was playing.
“I never doubted that I could. I was making a lot of plays but then I’d make that one bad decision. I knew if I could change that, we had the offense — along with our defense — to be a good team. We did that. We made the playoffs and got hot at the right time and won another championship which was fun.
“I had the addition of my daughter [Ava] also. So it’s been a big year. It’s been a lot of fun. I’m just enjoying every second of it.’’
When asked what is tougher, changing a diaper or reading defenses, Manning showed the sense of humor he has guarded, but those around him appreciate.
“I’ve had more practice reading defenses, let’s say that,’’ he said. “Both of them sometimes will surprise you and you get something that’s unexpected.’’
Manning said he could not reveal much about his SNL host gig, but he hopes it will be entertaining.
“Once you’re around him, once he gets into that certain personality mode where he is like he is when he’s with his teammates, he’s very funny,” Giants coach Tom Coughlin said.
Manning also remains serious about his craft. He said the 2011 season taught him there are levels of greatness that require levels of commitment in the NFL.
“You know, make every mistake there is to make and try to learn from it, not repeating the same mistake,’’ said Manning. “That’s the first step. And then there’s that process of knowing the rules [of an offense] and knowing when to go outside the rules and making yourself even better. You never stop learning this game.’’
Nor do you stop learning the business. Two years ago, Peyton was the hot Manning. Now he will suit up for a new team and try to make the Denver Broncos an elite team. He’s won one ring.
But Eli is one Super Bowl win away from joining Brady and Troy Aikman as three-time champion quarterbacks, and one MVP away from joining Joe Montana as the only three-time winners of that award.
“I’m really just worried about working on my skill set and being ready to be at my best for next year,’’ Manning said. “Make the plays. Whatever the result of that is, that’s what it will be.’’
Exclusive Super Bowl merchandise featuring New York Post front pages