I really didn't want to face the 9-7 Giants in the Super Bowl this year. I was afraid of this. But not of a Super Bowl loss, but rather what the loss to the Patriots would mean to both men. Brady's going to catch some flak for this, and a lot of the criticism will be unsubstantiated as always is the case in the NFL. His shiny resume and armor with another dent in it. That's ok because thankfully this armor was built tough and with real metal, forged by his own fire, will and sweat, hard work and many hours he's put in his quest to become an expert of the game of football. It can handle dents. I'm sure we're also going to hear a lot of talk about Eli Manning being a better clutch, 4th quarter quarterback. Pats fans, your worst fears have come true. So let me explain how I see it, and then decide how you want to deal with all of this. For one let's just say debating is now finally back full force and fewer people will likely "give us" the benefit of the doubt as easily as we have grown accustomed to getting for so long. But as annoying as some of those may be to have to hear, all that aside, my bigger beef with all of this was that people are generally easy to influence and uninformed when it comes to football. Despite the fact quarterbacks never face each other, and in reality must each face their opponent's defense, which are mostly different and rarely the same, the media and general public still treat quarterbacks as if they play head-to-head, in a boxing match. One versus the other. In reality, it's just completely not true. But that is how it's viewed by the majority and perception is often 90% reality. On top of his actual accomplishments, Tom Brady carries a certain image that he has rightfully earned throughout his career. Tom seems to have been a victim of this boxing-like, head-to-head comparison more so than any other quarterback I have watched play the game or remember talked about in recent history. Perhaps because in the new decade he's the first guy to really come close to the levels only a few great quarterbacks have achieved and the media's more involved than ever in football. Not to mention all the new information technology such as the internet bringing it all together and football's popularity growing 10 fold. Because of this, it turns out, that just about any QB that beats the Patriots defense and is part of the winning team is automatically seen as "besting Tom Brady", not just in that game, but in all of what it means to be Tom Brady. Often a false statement when it comes to how football works, but once again, perception is 90% reality. What you could easily see coming is that because of this misconception, any quarterback that has, would have, and will continue to beat the Patriots, especially on a stage as great as the Super Bowl will have his resume and his image inflated 10 fold because he's also "beating Tom Brady". While each player's actual accomplishments may take a back seat because of the way we view it all. Because of this I desperately wanted it to have been someone that easily convinces he deserved such an inflation in perception by proving he earned it year after year, week after week, and day after day. Having his own set of accomplishments and credentials, rightfully earned. By proving that he is a great quarterback outside of just being able to beat Tom Brady's defense, even if it is in a Super Bowl. By doing what Tom Brady did to reach this stage, and what every other great NFL quarterback had to do. But looking back on Eli Manning's career, I must say, there may not be a more fitting person. He hasn't had it too easy either, in the NFL. He's always been in his brother's shadow. He likely could have won 2 Super Bowls, and it's quite possible that he would have still not gotten the credit he deserves for what he has accomplished because of his own image problems that he's had to fight throughout his career and coming into this league. After all, Eli is one of the biggest top draft pick underdogs ever, just like Tom Brady is likely the greatest underdog ever to have achieved what he has. Eli may have just as well been the 199th pick too. Sure he is a Manning, and and he was picked first, but everyone perceived it that he didn't deserve it. As if he only got here because of his name when in reality he would never measure up not just to his brother, but to his family's name and even as an NFL quarterback. And while most top pick QB's do end up as busts, we have to admit, Eli Manning is the very example of what a 1st overall draft pick should do in the NFL. This is what organizations expect from them. Eli Manning is a great quarterback, and has been for some time, not just in the 4th quarter, but also happens to have a pretty mean deep ball and has consistently over the years been putting up big air passing numbers and great efficiency in this important category, a stat which is rarely even kept track of publicly. Part of that is mainly because of what Tom Brady's done to the perception of the quarterback, and what is expected of one, as Montana did back in his days. Out of the quarterbacks who are still asked to play in a traditional manner, Eli's one of the best in the league. And yet he never got the respect he deserved. He's never basked in the spotlight. He's never cared to nor given the opportunity to hog the news. After all these years, and even after winning his Super Bowl in 2007, Eli has constantly had to deal with his share of disrespect, despite his great accomplishments, maybe even more than Tom Brady himself. So, as much as it hurt to watch us lose and as much as it's going to annoy me to hear some of the upcoming criticism of Tom, perhaps this wasn't such a terrible thing to have happened. And if someone was to get an extra benefit to his resume and as a boost to his image overall, because of "beating Tom Brady", there may not be a better suited quarterback and person for that, that deserved it more than Eli Manning. Maybe all it really does is bring Eli's perception and his image where it should have been in the first place. Congratulations Eli. Yes, you are elite. This time you added an exclamation mark. And I'm glad you said it. Because frankly, you didn't do it out of arrogance and didn't come across this way even when you said it at the beginning of the season. But to stand up for yourself and claim the respect the NFL and the rest of us should have given you a long time ago. And perhaps even your family. It is time you are finally taken seriously. And most importantly you backed that up. And now maybe Tom needs to take a lesson from Eli. And maybe Bill needs to also understand that the time has come where Tom must also stand up and defend himself. Even Joe Montana, the classiest of class, did this same thing this year, by taking a "knock" at Tom mainly as a result of all the comparisons that may have come before due time from the media. Keeping quiet and hoping that people will catch on, while no doubt a respectful and classy strategy, may not always be the smartest idea when the majority of the people who judge you hardly understand the game, the stats or what they're really looking at and the NFL. Especially when they are fueled by the media, the ones who rarely have your best interest at heart, but rather their own ratings. Sometimes, whether true or not, keeping quiet is often perceived as weakness or confirmation of the criticism out there, especially when things don't go as planned. And I think regardless of the subtle strategy Bill chooses to employ for himself in order to be remembered(which might work better for coaches) there's little chance the majority of the "classy" NFL fanatics that discuss QB's on a daily basis and watch ESPN will ever take the time to understand this game in order to appreciate what it is him or Tom Brady are doing. Sometimes you have to speak their language, or end up getting drowned out by the larger, not so classy voice of the NFL and its fan base along with all of the rightfully earned accomplishments. So maybe Tom, like Eli, needs to stand up and say "I am elite", and then prove it once again as he has so often done year after year, because when he says "I suck" most people who don't know any better, and doesn't understand his classy qualities, might just take him seriously. Just my two cents.