This Sunday, when the New York Giants face off against the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLVI in Indianapolis, a lot will be made about the legacy of Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and his coach Bill Belichick. And, to be sure, there will probably be a lot of references to the 2008 game played between these same two teams in which New England failed to cap off a perfect season and ended up losing the the Giants.
For New Orleanians still smarting after the Saints' loss to the San Francisco 49ers a few weeks back, it will be hard to take in Sunday's game without wondering what may have happened if the Black and Gold defense could've come up with one final stop in Candlestick Park. After all, the Saints demolished the Giants in the regular season and, with the prospect of hosting a second NFC Championship game in three years, it's hard to think that Drew Brees and co. wouldn't have done it again.
Yet, with Eli Manning in the hunt for a second Super Bowl ring, we can all take some solace in the fact that New Orleans is being well represented in the big game a year before getting to host the event. Manning, as everyone knows, is the son of former Saints quarterback Archie Manning. The Manning line has already produced two Super Bowl winners and Peyton Manning got to live a childhood dream when he threw the game-clinching touchdown pass to his father's Saints.
Peyton, the older brother, relentless worker and consumate field general, is unquestionably one of the greatest quarterbacks that have ever played the game. His stretch of play in the 2000s is nearly unmatched by anyone in history and, those who come close, are either in or heading to the Hall of Fame. Eli, on the other hand, has long played the dopey younger brother who is preternaturally talented but doesn't seem to fully appreciate or even care about his gifts. And then he goes and pulls off a stretch like he has in the past month, improbably leading his Giants team to being one game away from becoming Super Bowl champs.
It all kind of makes you wonder what exactly is in the water down here (or at least the water piped into the Manning residence) that gave Archie such prodigious progeny. It also makes you wonder if Brees, whose accolades firmly puts him on top as the greatest quarterback the Saints have ever had with Archie a distant second, will be able to repeat what the Mannings produced in terms of NFL talent. Brees, after all, already has two sons and a third child is on the way, so it's kind of fun to speculate what the future has in store for the Brees children and whether they'll follow in their dad's footsteps and make New Orleans a virtual breeding ground for Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks.
Eli, though, still has one final game to play, one final chance to cement his legacy as being better than his older brother's and a chance to give New Orleans'-born quarterbacks three Super Bowls in the past decade, with a Saints Super Bowl sandwiched in there for good measure. It may not be the same as seeing another Saints' Championship parade in the middle of Mardi Gras season, but it should be enough to tide Who Dats over until next year when the Saints have a shot at hosting the whole shebang.