This is a blog about running but there are plenty of runners in football so I must take a moment to congratulate the New York Giants for their stunning 17-14 superbowl victory over the New England Patriots.
As a native Brooklynite, I have watched the Giants execute play after play to win an amazing series of games over the past few weeks. Despite our last 10 wins on the road, nothing beats the excitement of the last three football games against the Dallas Cowboys, the Greenbay Packers, and now, the mighty New England Patriots. The New York Giants who were underdogs going into this game were victorious tonight. Can you imagine being Eli Manning’s father? Can you imagine having two sons, quarterbacks at that, playing national football, and now both have superbowl titles?
I knew the game would be good, but I didn’t expect this. I was thrilled to see Manning run with the ball several times – to escape or prevent the sack. After twisting his way out of Pats defense stronghold, he miraculously spun out, ran to the side of the field and pitched a high throw which was caught, amazingly, by David Tyree, who maintained control of the ball by somehow smashing it onto his helmet. He held on for dear life as he fell to the ground and I don’t know how, but that ball stayed connected to Tyree’s helmet and the pass was complete. Absolutely amazing.
I should have had some faith, but I was scared in the fourth quarter and tried to prepare myself for the worst when the Pats scored with only 3 minutes and change left in the game. Never did I expect Manning to reach the outstretched arms of Plaxico Burress in the endzone with only 35 seconds left in the game, or the Giant’s resolve to prevent Patriots quarterback Tom Brady from connecting with his receivers throughout the game. The Giants smashed Brady into the ground play after play after play…and to Tom Brady’s credit, the guy stood up and played respectable football. A testament to his abililty; but it was not good enough tonight.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. It does not matter to me that the Patriots won all 18 season games. And as I write this sportscasters are saying the same thing. People will remember the team who won THE game, Superbowl 42, and tonight, the New York Giants won THE game. The Pats, while having an amazing season, have experienced one of the biggest emotional upsets by losing tonight’s game. Their perfect season was diminished to nothing – because really, who cares how many games you win during the season – provided you make it to the play offs and then the superbowl? If you don’t win the superbowl, the fact that Tom Brady failed his team tonight will be painful until we step back and remember that he is a stellar quarterback and deserves all the accolades he can get. But he’ll be sad tonight and for many nights to come. There is nothing more dissappointing for a football team.
I have never been a dedicated football fan in the sense that I watch every game every weekend, but this year, this Giants team pulled me to the television. And it’s because of Eli Manning really. He was shaky last year. The team had not jelled under his leadership, but somehow, somewhere, that magic came to him – and his leadership brought this team to the top!
For all of you little brothers out there, pay attention to what you have witnessed. Eli Manning has been publically scruitinized, ridiculed and belittled pretty consistently this year. To the point where I wondered about Manning’s resolve. Somehow, he didn’t listen to the television and radio sportscasters who labelled Eli as a poor leader. “He’ll never be like his brother….he’s not like Payton…he’ll never be a strong leader.” Well Eli just won the superbowl so I bet there are a lot of loudmouth sportscasters getting fat on humble pie. Even Tiki Barber – who dissed his alumni team after leaving the Giants to go “sportscaster” should be pretty full on humble pie tonight too – I don’t remember you getting a Superbowl ring, as good as you were, with Eli leading your team. I wish you’d played one more year before retiring.
Eli Manning, you are an inspiration. David Tyree, Plaxico Burress, Micheal Strahan, Steve Smith, Amani Toomer, Ahmad Bradshaw and the rest of the New York Giants team – you did it because you played great football. Congratulations. The best team clearly won Superbowl 42.
And to all of us, this is a lesson to be learned. When the world is against you, listen to your soul. Manning has done an amazing thing – he has proven to all of us, that if you believe in yourself, you will do great things. Eli Manning, you are an inspiration to us all. I look forward to seeing all of your endorsement commercials. You deserved tonight’s MVP distinction.