Well, he did it.
Quarterback Eli Manning helped the New York Giants win their second Super Bowl title — and with it his second Super Bowl MVP award — in five seasons. And, not to mention, they did it against heartthrob QB Tom Brady and the New England Patriots each time.
While I’m not a fan of either team, I can’t help but feel a little bad that Brady was on the losing end Sunday in Indianapolis after he failed to win his fourth (that’s sick, especially since the Minnesota Vikings haven’t played in the big game since the day my 35-year-old brother was born) Super Bowl four years earlier. I’ve been a Brady mark — pro-wrestling term — since he led my little-known fantasy football team to a Yahoo! league championship in 2001-02 after it looked to be decimated by Drew Bledsoe’s injury.
The win made Manning the 11th starting quarterback to win at least two Super Bowl titles and brought on all kinds of talk about where he sits all time and — worse — whether he’s better than his brother, Peyton.
Before you participate in this albeit irrelevant and frivolous debate, don’t forget that football is a team sport. And a complex one at that.
The New York Giants won the Super Bowl, not Eli Manning. Sure, he’s on the team and going to get a ring that proves he was there, but just because you can’t name more than five players on the Giants doesn’t mean each player didn’t play a role in the club’s season-ending six-game winning streak.
I’m not discounting Manning’s role, either. He’s a terrific quarterback and was one of the Giants’ best players in the 2008 and 2012 games, but if the two were to go toe-to-toe based on ability in real life or in a “Madden NFL” video game, big brother Peyton is coming out on top each time.
Peyton Manning’s Indianapolis Colts have one Super Bowl victory (2007 against the Chicago Bears) and a loss in the big game (2010 against the New Orleans Saints). His 1-1 Super Bowl record doesn’t mean Eli’s 2-0 makes Eli better. At 3-2 in Super Bowls, I think Brady is better than both because he’s a better player (my man-crush might skew it, though).
Football personalities and fans rightfully stress throughout the year that it’s a team sport, but some of those same people are quick to forget that as soon as it comes to how many championship rings a player possesses. Former Dallas Cowboys and San Francisco 49ers defensive lineman Charles Haley has been a part of five Super Bowl victories. I remember watching Haley play in the 1990s, and he was an excellent player, but is he the best defensive end or linebacker in NFL history? No. Even with quarterback carrying more weight in an argument because of the role it plays in an offense, Super Bowl wins alone don’t equal greatness.
Terry Bradshaw won four Super Bowls with the Pittsburgh Steelers, but I’ve never heard anyone credible say Bradshaw is the best quarterback in history. At 30, I never saw Bradshaw play and know him more for his role as an analyst for Fox and his dull “Tonight Show” interviews. He’s in the Pro Football Hall of Fame for a reason, though. One four-time-winning QB, Joe Montana, who won four with San Francisco, is regarded as one of the best, if not the best. He’s also the one quarterback to whom Brady most often is compared.
Maybe it’s his aw-shucks demeanor or his I-just-took-a-drop-kicked-basketball-to-the-face-when-I-wasn’t-looking expression, but I’m not sold on Eli Manning being an all-time great. Yes, I’ll take him on my team over Donovan McNabb, Christian Ponder, Joe Webb and Rhett Bomar, but there are dozens I’d put ahead of the younger Manning when it comes to their place in NFL history.