JOHN L. PITTS: Super Bowl win puts Eli Manning in elite company

By John L. Pitts | NEMS Daily Journal

Eli Manning and Tom Brady each got what they wanted on Super Sunday.
New York’s Manning wanted a chance to underscore that he is, indeed, one of the game’s elite quarterbacks.
New England’s Brady, asked his choice during the endless pregame show, said he’d prefer to have the football in his hands late in the game, needing a touchdown to win the Super Bowl.
He got his chance. But Brady, and the men tasked to catch his passes, failed to rise to the occasion.
Manning, and his teammates, did rise.
That’s not the whole story of Super Bowl XLVI, but that’s a pretty good takeaway.
After the Giants’ 21-17 victory on Sunday night, the former Ole Miss quarterback can return to his off-season home in Oxford as a two-time Super Bowl winner.
That puts Manning in some fine company, including another member of his 2004 draft class, Pittsburgh Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger. Other two-time Super Bowl winners include all-time greats such as John Elway, Roger Staubach and Bart Starr.
Only five men have won two or more Super Bowl MVP awards – Manning, Brady, Starr, Terry Bradshaw and Joe Montana (3). That’s Hall of Fame company.
Neither Brady or Madonna, the blast-from-the-past halftime act, could keep Manning off the field when it mattered. The Patriots started three second-half series with a chance to gain a 24-15 lead but managed just 59 total yards with two punts and an ill-advised Brady interception.
Manning, meanwhile, made all the big throws the Giants needed.
What now? At age 31, there’s no reason to think Manning can’t win at least one more championship.
For Brady to add a fourth Super Bowl ring to match his hero, Montana, the Patriots must put more effort into their defense. The Giants did, and that’s why the hoisted the franchise’s fourth Lombardi Trophy on Sunday.
Given a choice of either in his prime, most NFL general manages would still take Eli’s older brother, Peyton, to start a team from scratch, But little brother’s star is still on the rise, while Peyton’s career might be over (with just one Super Bowl ring) due to a neck injury.
Playing in Lucas Oil Stadium – known as The House That Peyton Built, as quarterback of the Indianapolis Colts – Eli brought more glory on Sunday to the First Family of Football.
John L. Pitts (john.pitts@journalinc.com) is sports editor of the Journal.