By Todd Leabo
Legacies were on the line in Indianapolis Sunday night during the Super Bowl. Tom Coughlin's New York Giants were looking to cement their legacy by beating the mighty New England Patriots for the second time this year and the second time in the Super Bowl. They pulled out a 21-17 win to give the G-Men their 4th Super Bowl title.
The win did some important things. It made Eli Manning the Giants only two-time Super Bowl champion QB (Phil Simms and Jeff Hostetler each won one under Bill Parcells). It made them only the fifth franchise to win at least four Super Bowls (Pittsburgh, Dallas, SF and GB are the others).
While the winning side is interesting because Coach Coughlin has been nearly run out of town by the media and fans on more than one occasion, I think the losers hold more intrigue.
The Patriot Dynasty has fallen on hard times. The amazing run of three Super Bowls in four years is starting to really seem like a long time ago. Their last Super Bowl win came after the 2004 season. Brady was the QB and Bill Belichick was the head coach. Their two coordinators were Charlie Weis and Romeo Crennel. Weis is on this fourth job (Notre Dame HC, Chiefs OC, Florida OC and Kansas HC) since that win. Crennel is on his third (Cleveland HD, Chiefs DC and Chiefs HD).
Back in the 2004 season, the Chiefs were still being coached by Dick Vermeil (he's a winemaker now), Willie Roaf was still blocking for them (he just got voted to the Pro Football Hall of Fame) and Larry Johnson had yet to really burst on the scene (he's since been a Bengal, Redskin and Dolphin). Heck, Matt Cassel was still in college back then. You get the point it's been awhile since they won it all.
The Patriots have still been a dominant team. The win the AFC East nearly every year and continue to be a marquee team in the NFL. I'm clearly not around them so it's hard to put a finger on why they haven't been champs again.
Coach Belichick's life is more complicated than it was back then. He'd yet to have been fined $500,000 and stripped of a first-round draft pick by the NFL for his role in videotaping opponent's signals. According to most reports, his personal life has gone through plenty of changes since 2004 as well.
From the outside, I would guess they've become a little Hollywood. Back when they were winning Super Bowls Tom Brady wasn't dating actresses and models. I remember being at Super Bowl week the year after they won their first Super Bowl. They had missed the playoffs and there was a press conference for the Cadillac MVP award. Brady was there because he was named the MVP (and earned a new Caddy) the year before when the Pats beat the St. Louis Rams. He was telling a story about how the Escalade he won was the first new car he had ever had.
I was blown away at how innocent he was even after he'd been in the league for a few years and had a title under his belt. He certainly wasn't the superstar he is today back then. Getting fired up about a free car seems unlikely today when you're married to a super model and moving into a 22,000 sq. ft. house in California soon.
I'm not passing judgment on Brady or the Patriots. They seem driven to succeed. But is it possible to be driven as much as you were before everyone was telling you how awesome you are? The recent results would show that it might not be.
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