Starr, Namath, Bradshaw, Staubach, Montana, Elway, Young and now Eli Manning. Regardless of what you think of Eli Manning's body of work before last night, the simple fact is that he has now become immortal in the football world by leading his team to the world championship over the much-favored New England Patriots.
To proclaim Eli Manning the only reason the Giants won would be completely unfair to a New York defense that constantly hit and rattled the infallible Tom Brady. The Giant defense did a miraculous job in shutting down the big play receivers New England claimed to have. But at the end of the day the play between Manning and Tyree will be what is remembered most from Super Bowl XLII. The improbable escape followed by an unbelievable catch is what will be replayed for years to come, much the same way as the Immaculate Reception.
As great as the Giants accomplishment was, the Patriots failure also weighs heavily today. Obviously Bill Belichick couldn't handle the pressure and blew the game by wearing a red cutoff sweatshirt instead of the normal gray. He didn't even stick around to watch the final second of the game. But who can blame him considering his team had just pulled off one of the greatest choke jobs in the history of the NFL? Not since a man named Joe Willy guaranteed a Jets victory in Super Bowl III has there been such an upset (the Pats over the Rams doesn't count...especially if the Patriots were cheating).
At the end of the day, the Patriots finished the season 18-1 and left the 1972 Dolphins as the only undefeated team in the history of the NFL and Eli Manning has taken his place alongside some of the great Super Bowl quarterbacks. The patience the Giants have shown in both Manning and Tom Coughlin has been rewarded. And the retirement of Tiki Barber and injury to Jeremy Shockey only made the Giants better. What a great day...