Monday, February 4, 2008

Peyton Owes Eli a "Thank You"

The Giants actually did it; defeating the Patriots 17-14 in one of the most entertaining Super Bowls I’ve ever seen. It was enjoyable because, like most fans, I despise the Patriots and was hoping with every fiber of me being that they would lose. I won’t talk more about the game itself because everyone else will exhaust the subject, but I did want to mention why Peyton Manning is probably the happiest man on the planet right now.

When two of the greatest athletes of all time play in the same era, their careers are always compared side by side- see Larry Bird and Magic Johnson. Peyton Manning, as a “student of the game”, clearly recognizes this. Ultimately, he knows his accomplishments will always be judged based on how they stack up with Brady’s accomplishments, however unfair that might be.

Currently, only Super Bowl wins separate the two quarterbacks. Brady winning a fourth ring last night would have made it virtually impossible for Peyton to ever catch him in that department. So, as Eli marched the Giants down the field over the final three minutes, you know Peyton was praying to God that the Giants could punch it in. If not, Peyton would have had to sit back again as the Patriots smugly celebrated their 4th Lombardi Trophy. How much more could he really take?

Without doubt, older brother was pulling for little Eli, but I think he was equally interested in seeing the Patriots lose. He seemed to have his whole heart and soul invested in the game from high up in that plush luxury box. After Brady connected with Moss late in the 4th quarter, Peyton was probably wondering how Belichick and his band'o'assholes were going to sneak out another victory. They had done it to him for years, and now, little brother was going to fall victim to the same fate. Sure, Peyton was finally able to get over the proverbial “hump” last year, but a Pat’s victory here would have stamped them as the greatest team of all time.

Once Eli hit Burress for the winning score, Peyton knew he still had a chance to go down as the greatest QB of all time. I debated this point with my buddies, and they said Peyton cared more about his brother winning than the Patriots losing. I’d agree with them if not for the fact that Peyton is one of the most competitive athletes in sports. Seeing his biggest rivals win the biggest game in the world almost certainly would have made him sick.

Like I’ve said already, I don’t doubt that Manning was wholeheartedly rooting for Eli to win the game. I’m just suggesting that he was equally ecstatic that Brady couldn’t further separate himself in that “Who’s better? Peyton or Brady?” argument. Maybe I’m just vindictive, but I’ve always enjoyed seeing rivals fail. I think most people-at least secretively- feel the same way. So, if my hypothetical little brother beat my #1 rival, I’d definitely be extremely happy for him, but I’d probably take an equal amount of joy in the fact that he beat the person/team I’d always be competing against (indirectly at least).

Congratulations Eli. Your older brother owes you money,treasures, gift certificates to Sizzler, or whatever it is you Southern folks give when trying to express gratitude.