Super Bowl XLVI remains just under two weeks away but it is rather clear that one man will be a resounding loser in the court of public opinion in the days, weeks, and months to follow the festivities in Indianapolis.
However, once the confetti settles at Lucas Oil Field on February 5, Manning’s legacy is going to take a dent.
Should the New York Giants win their second Super Bowl since 2008, there is a quiet movement that will gain momentum due to our current state of paralysis by analysis method of sports journalism.
Indeed, people will continue to ponder whether Eli Manning is a better quarterback than his big brother. The argument will largely center around Eli’s two Super Bowl rings and Peyton’s lone ring.
Debate will also ensue over Peyton’s 9-10 playoff record; while with a Super Bowl win over the Patriots, Eli’s mark will be a stout 8-3.
Meanwhile, the younger Manning will gain a second credit to his résumé that Peyton did not achieve…a level of playoff mastery of Tom Brady and Bill Belichick. Peyton’s Colts could only muster a 1-2 record in three playoff games; on the other hand, Eli would be a tidy 2-0 in Super Bowls over the historic quarterback/coach duo.
Even though it might seem preposterous on the surface, an Eli vs. Peyton discussion will get real during the offseason.
As for Eli’s counterpart on Super Sunday, let’s go back to 1989’s Lethal Weapon 2.
During that film, an enraged detective Martin Riggs (played by Mel Gibson) wanted to destroy the South African mob responsible for killing his wife and then, years later, his girlfriend.
Riggs drove his pickup truck to South Africans’ hideout; attached a rope from his truck to one of the house’s supports; and then proceeded to rip the house down from a hill until it was a fiery mess.
Essentially, that is what the combination of Bill Belichick and Tom Brady will attempt to do the Giants, Manning family, and city of Indianapolis.
A Patriots win would mean Indianapolis’ greatest rival over the last decade would accept the Vince Lombardi Trophy in their house.
Brady would claim his fourth Super Bowl ring and to me, would indefinitely leave any argument versus Manning by moving to the next level discussion…the greatest quarterback of all-time talk.
The man that Peyton has measured himself against, will own three more Lombardi trophies.
For all of Manning’s great statistical achievements, he has one Super Bowl ring. Plus, there is a reasonable chance that we’ve already seen his final game as an NFL quarterback. Not only is Father Time knocking on Peyton’s door, he is in the house, just ate dinner, and has his feet up on 18’s coffee table with a Manhattan placed on a coaster.
The winner of Super Bowl XLVI will make Peyton’s singular Super Sunday achievement all the more noticeable.