If you’re one of those people who only reads the headline (you know, the Facebook type), I’m sure you’ve vowed never to read BTSC, me or anything at all ever again.
But if you have stuck around to read the article attached to my inflammatory and/or click-baiting headline, thanks. After all, I’m kind of joking, but in a good, non-trolling sort of way.
Speaking of joking, I used to joke that Eli Manning, the long-time Giants quarterback who announced his retirement from the NFL this week after 16 seasons, had as much to do with the Steelers Super Bowl legacy as Dan Rooney, Chuck Noll and Bill Nunn combined.
Why? Manning made the Steelers claim as the winningest Super Bowl franchise of all time last much longer than perhaps it had any right to.
All joking aside, one might say Eli had more to do with upholding the Steelers championship legacy than any other quarterback taken in the 2004 NFL Draft (that’s right, I said it). Let’s face it, Philip Rivers sure never came through against the Patriots when anything was ever on the line. Unfortunately, you can say the same thing about Ben Roethlisberger, even if he did strengthen the Steelers Super Bowl legacy by helping them win two in those years when someone else knocked off New England (I mean, someone is always going to accuse the Steelers of that, so it might as well be me).
As for Eli, he ain’t afraid of no Patriot.
Isn’t it wild how Manning was the dolphin to the Patriots shark in both Super Bowls XLII and XLVII, when the Giants vanquished New England each time?
Heck, not even the Miami Dolphins, all 53 of them, could ever chase the Patriots away from South Beach. Yet, Eli made them flee from Super Bowl success with no trouble at all.
Truly appreciated by those of us who count trophies.
When Manning hit Plaxico Burress with a touchdown pass in the corner of the end zone in the waning seconds of Super Bowl XLII to give New York an improbable 17-14 victory, it was the last time I seriously cheered for a sports result that didn’t involve a team from Pittsburgh.
Why? Because it did involve a team from Pittsburgh, namely the Steelers dynasty of the 1970s that won four Lombardi trophies between 1974-1979. A Patriots victory in Super Bowl XLII would have earned them a fourth title in six years—same as those ‘70s Steelers teams.
Furthermore, the Patriots entered that game with an 18-0 record, and a championship almost certainly would have earned them the distinction of “Greatest Team Of All-Time.”
Instead, New England had to settle for the consolation prize of “Team That Came The Closest To Winning Four Super Bowls In Six Years Since The Steelers Did It.”
The Giants second Super Bowl victory over the Patriots a few years later kept them stuck on three, and with Tom Brady entering his second decade of professional football, some wondered if New England’s cute little field goal dynasty was coming to an end.
Here we are, eight seasons and three more Super Bowl victories later, and the Patriots bona fide dynasty is finally over....maybe.
Yes, the Patriots did eventually catch the Steelers in the Super Bowl race—even if Pittsburgh did jump out to a three Lombardi lead by parlaying Eli’s SBXLII heroics into a sixth Super Bowl the following season—but just think about how much worse it would have been if the younger Manning brother hadn’t stood up to the Patriots?
That’s right, not even Peyton, Eli’s much more legendary older brother, could do much to slow the Patriots’ Super Bowl Express down, even though 99 percent of the country was always pulling for whatever team he happened to be on while facing them in the postseason.
Just how legendary was Eli? Whenever Brady got all intense and said he was going to kick Manning’s ass, Eli retorted with, “Cool story, bro, but you must have me confused with my big bro.”
Anyway, Eli, I know you’re either worthy or unworthy of future Hall of Fame induction, depending on whose Twitter feed you read, but you’ll always be okay in my book. If I ever get to vote for future classes of the Steelers Hall Of Honor, I will lobby for your induction.
Thanks for keeping those black and gold “Got Six?” t-shirts relevant.