By Ann Liguori
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From Mario Manningham’s stunning catch with 3 minutes, 39 seconds remaining in the game to the way Ahmad Bradshaw’s momentum pushed him backwards, bottom-down, into the end zone for the much -debated winning touchdown to Tom Brady’s Hail Mary attempt in the final second and the way Giants’ linebacker Jacquian Williams and safety Kenny Phillips and others prevented Patriots’ tight ends Aaron Hernandez and then Rob Gronkowski from grabbing the ball, I must say, this game was one of the most enjoyable Super Bowls ever to watch. And among the excitement of the game and the final result, the discerning viewer absorbed so much more.
Perhaps what they saw was the Giants becoming a symbol for America, showing how never to give up (with the Giants becoming the first team with seven regular season losses to win the Super Bowl); how to keep their wits about them and prevail in the midst of incredible challenges (against a most talented and skilled Patriots’ team and Tom Brady, one of the best quarterbacks in NFL history); and how to stand tall and stay true to themselves while so many throughout the season called for Tom Coughlin’s exit and directed venom toward Eli Manning when he proclaimed he is an ‘elite quarterback.’ Watching Manning stay calm, cool and focused in yet another fourth-quarter comeback, is truly inspirational. And to exhibit such outer calmness and confidence in the biggest game in football, amongst a global spotlight, is incredible.
Manning certainly deserved the Super Bowl MVP award after completing 30 of 40 passes for 296 yards and a touchdown. But he deserves more recognition for the way he has handled himself throughout this season and his career. What a role model for young people who look up to his every move and can learn from him. His messages are clear: work hard, stay focused, don’t let criticism bother you, never give up, remain calm and poised among all adversity and be a leader, on and off the field.
Yes, these games have many inspirational messages, intriguing stories about so many accomplished athletes and coaches. What we see from the Giants, culminating in the glory of their Super Bowl celebration, is the classiness of the organization, led by the ownership and coach Tom Coughlin. If you want to learn how to handle a variety of situations and overcome obstacles from criticism and skepticism to controversy and pressure, look at the way Tom Coughlin deals with all of this – full of grace and humility. Observe how Eli Manning conducts himself on and off the field. See how the entire team pulled together, stayed true to themselves and fought fierce until the very end.
Yes, the Giants won their second Super Bowl in five seasons. But more important are the messages that can be learned by absorbing the way they did it, educating and inspiring thousands of people, young and old.