The New York Giants won Super Bowl XLVI in the 2011 season despite having key players out for extended periods of time due to injuries. The Giants also lost TE Kevin Boss and WR Steve Smith in free agency, two key players as rookies in the Giants’ win in Super Bowl XLII. General manager Jerry Reese was roasted in the media for not doing anything to retain either of them.
Reese then went ahead and proclaimed the Giants were a championship team with the talent that was on the roster. Many people laughed at that claim, looking at how the Philadelphia Eagles obtained talent and were promptly dubbed the “Dream Team.” The “Dream Team” struggled and failed to make the playoffs. The Giants won the championship.
The media lauded the Giants for being able to replace injured players with productive backups. The emergence of DE Jason Pierre-Paul certainly helped, since the Giants were missing DE Osi Umenyiora for the first half of the season. The emergence of WR Victor Cruz was even bigger, considering they lost Smith in free agency and then WR Domenik Hixon in the second game of the season.
However, while those players are applauded, there is only one player greatly responsible for the Giants and their ability to stay afloat during tough times. That guy is QB Eli Manning. The Giants have never had a losing season with Manning as the quarterback in a full 16-game season. The Giants have also been in the playoffs for five of the eight seasons Manning has been the starting quarterback.
The Giants recently cut three players from their recent successful Super Bowl run. However, the Giants are still championship contenders. Why? They have the one constant that is able to rise up and take this team to championship seasons. This is why Manning is elite. There are only six players that are on contract for next season who was on the 2007 championship team.
There are constant moving parts, just like the New England Patriots this past decade. However, the one constant has been QB Tom Brady, and that’s all the Patriots need in order to be championship contenders. Manning is in a class with very select company. If Manning were to go down with injury, it would be devastating for the franchise.