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SPORTS

SIDELINE
Observations, Opinion & Occasional Silliness by Richard L Gale

Super Bowl XLVI: Still doubting Eli?
February 7, 2012

Remember how the media painted the football world two months ago? Tim Tebow's winning streak was biblical, Aaron Rodgers' unbeaten run was building the case for his eventual NFL MVP award, and the New York media – together with a significant number of Giants fans – were calling for coach Tom Coughlin to go, mired as the Giants were in a 4-game losing streak.

Eli Manning never lost faith. Instead he bookended the season, claiming to be in Tom Brady's class before the start, and then downing Brady and the Patriots at the end. Tebow's faith may have become the story in midseason, but Manning was the man of faith down the stretch: Faith in his line, in his receivers, in his defense, and in his coach. Manning never waivered.

While Eli was once considered less of a quarterback than his brother – because he isn't as intense a person, because he seems a little laid back – we are starting to translate 'laid back' as 'cool', 'calm', 'icewater'. His fourth quarter comeback record is climbing up there with Brady, with Elway (even with Tebow). He has the faith to hang in the pocket, to win it in the end.

We had evidence for this four years ago, but we dismissed it, or at least mislaid it when the Giants didn't turn into a dynasty, when he didn't immediately drive the point home with another championship. Even after the most recent Super Bowl, its still easy to dismiss the notion that Eli is not Peyton, not quite as good. Eli rarely appears forceful, outspoken; even the claim that he's in Tom Brady's class wasn't a proclamation, but the response to a leading question. Nonetheless, Eli's the one with the ring, again. If Brady's in the conversation for best quarterback ever, which conversation is Eli in, when Eli keeps winning the head-to-heads?

Elisha Manning now has a double portion of the Super Bowl spirit over his elder brother, and only one win less than Tom Brady at age 31 – time is on his side for adding more championships for an organisation that historically does well at taking advantage of opportunities. Already, oddsmakers are finding reasons to pick half a dozen teams ahead of the Giants for 2012, and the pre-season prophets will do the same come September. Even when we see the proof, we're tempted to deny it.

Super Bowl Hoopla: Random Thoughts

Vocal Support
It was surprising it took so long for Madonna to appear in the half time show of a Super Bowl. While I found myself wincing a couple of times at a middle-aged lady doing assisted cartwheels, there was no denying it was a perfect interval, hip and accomplished in equal measure (the guests were hip, Madge was accomplished), with dance talent, audio-visuals, interesting camera angles, fabulous givenchy wardrobe, but most importantly, falling short of upstaging the game itself. I found plenty of fellow Brits being sniffy about the choice of Madonna as Super Bowl entertainment, but she nailed it. Also nailing it, Kelly Clarkson's National Anthem. Thank you.

A Touching Moment
Wow, how long did Raymond Berry's trophy presentation walk last? Good job that fanfare just loops and loops. As everybody (and I mean anybody with a team pass) stepped up to touch and fondle the trophy, including, seemingly, equipment guys taking happy snaps of themselves, I began to wonder how the scene would have been handled by Airplane's Zucker and Zucker.

That Chap Chapman
Mark Chapman: Wall of Beige. Given the most colorful sport on television, BBC's frontman donned a desert of a sweater that made Bill Belichick's grey hoodie look like catwalk chic. The shirt suggested a man whose attire is most at home on radio. At my house, we took to holding up bowties in front of the screen to improve the look. And if I'm not mistaken, is this not 'Chappers' Chapman who made derogitory 'sissy football in shoulderpads'-style comments when reporting the Patriots victory over the Rams on Sara Cox's breakfast show ten years ago? I may have forgotten the exact wording – I must ask him the precise phrase if I catch him at Wembley later this year.

The Key Moment
Congratulations, Eli, you've won a Chevy Corvette. Will you be driving it home, Eli? Eli? The keys, hey, at least take the keys .....Eli? The 2012 Corvette Grand Sport Convertible (road-tested in the February issue of The American, by the way) comes with a 6.2-liter V-8, with 436hp, and 424 pound-feet of torque, with... (this news just in: winning a Super Bowl is more exciting than a free car. Still, convenient to have Chevy park it in Eli's brother's stadium. Nought-to-free agency in under 4 seconds).

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