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Keidel: All Hail Manning(ham)

By Jason Keidel
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For a fortnight the pretty people – some football fans and some just poseurs at a party watching an old, lip-synching singer – donned Patriots jerseys.

The winners wore Giants jerseys.

Eli Manning, who spent the last month making people like me look like idiots, made this postseason a prologue to his new legacy. And as the ball sailed down the sideline, impossibly nestling into Mario Manningham’s hands, Manning wrested himself from the family chains and endless comparisons to his older brother. Peyton has his place in the pantheon; now Eli has his.

This is why we love sports. In the World Series, the Cardinals showed that no game ends until the final out is gloved by the enemy. And with less than four minutes left in the Super Bowl, facing the aggregate shadows of Brady, Belichick, and history, the New York “Football” Giants plowed downfield, with nothing but faith at their backs.

Never in NFL history has a 9-7 team won a Super Bowl. Until now. Never has a tandem remolded its fortune so drastically and fantastically in a month. Until now. Eli Manning and Tom Coughlin have no more questions to answer from us, or anyone. Manning has two Super Bowl MVP awards, and Coughlin’s red face will someday be in bronze.

In a sense, even in loss, this game was a pseudo-referendum on Tom Brady’s greatness. Indeed, for all the praise lapped upon Bob Kraft and Bill Belichick for stewarding a fine franchise, it turns out their greatest management skill was the serendipity of snagging Brady in the sixth round. Without No. 12, the Patriots aren’t even a .500 team. For his part, Brady was every bit the Hall-of-Famer we expect, leading his underwhelming team to the lead at halftime and commanding his troops to another touchdown drive to start the second half. It would be the last time he’d score.

Now, there will be no more comparisons to Bradshaw/Noll or Montana/Walsh. The Giants pulled off the dual deeds of etching their place in eternity and rewriting the Brady/Belichick epilogue.

A few years ago, the Patriots traded Richard Seymour and gobbled up draft picks, which were intended to rewire an aging defense, fresh tools for the supposed high priest of defense (Belichick). We were told a new world order was coming, a Patriots monolith rising like a sword to the sky. How’s that going?

Belichick, the grumpy coach with the homeless chic wardrobe, grunted his way through the postgame press conference, saying nothing and everything. As usual, the Patriots relied on the fog of intimidation, pedigree over performance. When you punch them back they don’t know what to do. The Giants knew what to do.

Thank you, Giants. Not just from your followers, but from Jets fans, Steelers fans, all fans west of Westport, CT, and from those of us who don’t consider Boston a part of the republic. I said, on this site, that the Giants would win, 24-21. Sorry I couldn’t hit the exact number, but I’ve never been so pleased to be wrong.

As if to right the wrong of the Parcells Snub, Tom Coughlin honored his mentor by keeping the Super Bowl train on track. Coughlin, who somehow clawed his way from the coaching landfill into the land of legends, said his team’s mantra all year was “Finish.” Indeed, the New England Patriots are finished.

Thank you, Giants. It turns out gritty is better than pretty.

Feel free to email me:
Giants are Super Bowl champs! Fans of Big Blue, be heard in the comments below!
  • Robert Richardson

    Great Win. I will eat all my crow over Coughlin. Even if they didn’t win Coughlin turned in another epic year and I will never call for his head again (until next time). Now begins the winter of my discontent, No more football for 6 months. But on a lighter note, pitchers & catchers in 2 weeks!

    • JK

      Indeed, RR, February is a black hole in our sporting calendar. Been that way all my life. At least the Giants made it more palatable by beating Belichoke.

  • jim in VA

    Congratulations to the Giants from a Jets fan! I am particularly happy for Tom Coughlin, a class act and a very good football coach. Rex Ryan can learn a few things from Coughlin about knowing you team and pushing them to live up to their abilities. A remarkable turnaround to a season that looked dead after 14 games, this team defines “Champions”!!

    • JK

      Indeed, Jim, I think this game transcends the provincial bonds of favorite teams. As a Steelers fan, I live vicariously through Big Blue and thank them forever for killing any notion of the “greatest ever” tandem of Brady and Belichick.

  • JK

    As a lifelong Steelers fan, I just thank the Giants. To say you did the world a solid is an understatement.

  • CW

    And another bagful of humiliation drags its posterior
    . . . into oh so happy valley, courtesy of New York.

  • Kurt Spitzner

    The Giants and Coughlin walked the walk without all the bravado and trash talk and along with Eli’s heoics showed new england what NEW YORK is all about,so even as a Jets fan that feels pretty damn good right now!
    ps Now all Eli needs to do is be respectable and he’s a lock for enshrinement!

    • G.I.A.N.T.S

      Kurt Spitzner, maybe Rex, the Jets & their fans learned something as well in the bravado and trash talk as well.

      the moral of the story is, win a Super Bowl before bragging

      • Kurt Spitzner


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