Legacy on the Line
You won’t hear Tom Brady or Eli Manning speaking publicly about how much this game means to their legacy, but it’s certainly on the mind of everyone not involved with the game this coming Sunday. A win for either of them puts an exclamation mark on their career while a loss has harsh ramifications for their legacy.
A win against the Patriots puts him in the football Hall of Fame. Two Super Bowl victories against one of the best franchises and quarterbacks of the time cements him as an elite quarterback. A victory would also set the wheels in motion for a true Eli vs. Peyton debate. To date, Peyton only has one Super Bowl victory, and he lost the last one he was in, throwing an untimely interception to lose to the Saints. The potential for Eli to surpass Peyton’s shadow will be there and a Super Bowl MVP wouldn’t hurt his cause.
A loss still nets him a successful season, but it gives him a bigger mountain to climb if he ever wants to be a Hall of Fame candidate. The comparisons to Peyton won’t even be up for consideration until he wins another Super Bowl. His proclamation that he is an elite quarterback will be scoffed at, especially if he struggles against the Patriots less than stellar defense.
A win will put him for many people as the greatest quarterback in NFL history. At the very least, a win would put him as one of the top 3 quarterbacks in the modern era, somewhere in the pack of Montana and Marino. The debate of Brady vs. Peyton will take a swift turn in Tom’s favor. That debate might not end but Peyton fans will have a tougher hill to climb and be sufficiently downgraded in numbers. If Brady wins it will be his fourth Super Bowl victory, which will tie him with Joe Montana and Terry Bradshaw. That, in combination with another career season, makes his Hall of Fame induction all the more certain.
A loss would effectively eliminate Brady from the “Greatest of All Time” discussion. He’d be a candidate for certain but few if any would have a legitimate argument for #1 overall. This is a harsh and unfair reality, but losing two Super Bowls and being unable to win another after your 5th year would be a sufficient knock against him, especially since the Patriots have not won the Super Bowl since the “spy gate” incident. It would also seem to create a kryptonite for Brady’s legacy; the New York Giants.
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