The supposedly vaunted New England Patriots, the closest thing to an NFL dynasty since the 1980s 49ers, haven’t won a Super Bowl in seven years.
Meanwhile, Eli Manning and the New York Giants have won two in that time frame—actually, in the past five NFL seasons.
Both times, the Giants made the Pats their patsies.
Is this a baton passing we’re witnessing? A changing of the guard? Out with the old, in with the new and all that rot?
Eli Manning is all the rage now, as he should be. He’s up, 2-1, in Lombardi Trophies over his big brother, and is just one behind Hall of Fame-bound Tom Brady, whom Eli victimized twice.
Could Eli follow both those quarterbacks into Canton? Will we one day see the kid toting his own bust, posing for photographers in front of the Hall?
As Keith Jackson would say, “Whoa, Nellie!”
Super Bowl success does not, as some would have you think, punch you a ticket into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. But it could help you scalp your way in.
Eli Manning has the most time left in the NFL of he, Peyton and Brady. And as impressive as Eli has been, growing up before our very eyes, any HOF talk is premature.
Let’s see if he can grow some facial hair first, for example.
Remember when the Giants were the team all Lions fans wanted to play in the playoffs? Remember when the Lions’ loss to the Packers on the regular season’s final Sunday was rued, because it meant a trip to New Orleans instead of New York?
Remember the fury in Motown when it was announced that Eli Manning was named to the Pro Bowl instead of Matthew Stafford?
Hey, remember when it looked like the Giants might not even make the playoffs?
From such humble post-season beginnings did Eli lead his team to Super Bowl XLVI glory.
There’s something different about Eli as a Super Bowl-winning quarterback.
He’s got a lot of “Aw, shucks” about him, number one.
The championship quarterback is supposed to be a cocky, reckless gunslinger who is in TV commercials and on the covers of video games. He is supposed to be tall, Hollywood-handsome and frequently seen with a striking beauty on his passing arm.
He makes guarantees and kicks his offensive linemen in the shins when they don’t block. He tells the coaches how to coach and gets into the face of a receiver who breaks off his route too early.
The championship QB isn’t supposed to shake his head in wonder of what he just accomplished—he knew it all along.
Eli Manning still looks like the 12-year-old little brother whose hair the adults ruffle after they realize that he’s in their presence—after fawning over the big brother.
“That’s cute, kid, the way you throw a football,” the adults say. “Now go take a bath while we talk to your brother.”
Eli Manning plays in New York. That’s about as bodacious as he gets, and that’s just a matter of geography. He wanted to play there, of course—but mainly because he didn’t want to play in San Diego.
Truth is, Eli would be out of place in both cities.
He’s not a New Yawker and he’s not a California beach bum. Unless the NFL opens up shop in Des Moines, I don’t know that he fits in anywhere.
But he has authored two stunning, gripping, game-winning Super Bowl drives, in the final minutes, staring down the barrel of Brady’s gun both times.
Eli Manning doesn’t fit in anywhere, except under center.
Is he a Hall of Famer? No, not yet.
But, to quote Three Dog Night, “Eli’s comin’!”