Eli Manning Beats Brady on Way to $3 Million Endorsement Payday

Eli Manning outlasted New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady in a second Super Bowl, leading a game-deciding drive to give his New York Giants a 21-17 victory and double the championships won by his older brother Peyton.

Manning, 31, led the Giants 88 yards with his team trailing 17-15 for the winning score in the final minutes of yesterday’s National Football League title game. The drive may add millions to his earning potential and turn him into as big a star as his brother and Brady, analysts said.

“This isn’t about one person,” said Manning, who started a controversy in August by describing himself as an elite quarterback, similar to Brady, a three-time champion and two-time NFL Most Valuable Player who has now played in five Super Bowls.

Manning, who won his second Super Bowl MVP award and set a title game record by completing his first nine passes, connected on 30 of 40 passes for 296 yards and one touchdown without throwing an interception. The victory takes his championship tally past his brother, an 11-time Pro Bowl selection and four-time NFL MVP who led the Indianapolis Colts to a title after the 2006 season.

Manning said he didn’t think it matters that he’s beaten Brady twice in the Super Bowl. The New England quarterback completed 27 of 41 pass attempts for 276 yards, two touchdowns and an interception.

“I don’t think that’s the story,” Manning said. “The story is the New York Giants are world champions. That’s what I’m proud of.”

‘Clutch’ Performance

It was a performance Giants receiver Hakeem Nicks called “clutch” and means Manning “will permanently move out from under brother Peyton’s shadow,” said Bob Dorfman, executive creative director at San Francisco’s Baker Street Advertising.

Manning ranked 47th for 2011 earnings among U.S. athletes, according to Sports Illustrated, and his $7 million in endorsement dollars is less than half of the $15 million earned by Peyton. Last night’s win may add an additional $3 million to Manning’s income, Dorfman said.

“To the Super Bowl winner go the spoils,” Dorfman said in an e-mail. “Though Eli may never match the on-camera charisma and acting chops of his big brother, he’s already proven his worth as a pitchman, particularly in regional New York area campaigns.”

Giants Comeback

Manning began the winning drive with three minutes, 46 seconds left in the game and the Giants trailing 17-15 on their own 12-yard line.

Manning opened with a deep pass to Mario Manningham, who was running down the left side of the field. The wide receiver caught the ball and touched both feet down on the field just before New England’s Patrick Chung knocked him out of bounds.

“Not only did he have to catch the ball, keep his feet inbounds, he was going to have to hold onto the ball when he got hit,” Giants Offensive Coordinator Kevin Gilbride said. “It was a tremendous play.”

Manning then threw passes of 16, 2, 14 and 4 yards before Bradshaw ran up the middle for the 6-yard touchdown that won the game.

Giants co-owner Steve Tisch, who won an Academy Award as producer of the film “Forrest Gump,” said he couldn’t have scripted a more heroic drive.

“New York is going to be his city and it deserves to be his city,” Tisch said in an interview. “I didn’t think I could hold my breath that long. It’s like a great movie.”

Dick Ebersol, former chairman of NBC Sports, said television doesn’t get any better than Manning’s final drive.

“His calm is unbelievable,” he said. “This should put an end to all his doubters.”

Two-Time MVP

Manning became one of five players in league history to win the Super Bowl MVP award twice. That should distinguish him from other quarterbacks and move him into the company of his elder brother and Brady, said David Carter, executive director of the Sports Business Institute at the University of Southern California’s Marshall School. Manning has sold products including Citizen watches and Toyota automobiles.

“There are so many compelling quarterbacks jockeying for position in terms of endorsements that it requires multiple championships to distinguish yourself from your competition,” Carter said in an e-mail. “Tonight’s win by Manning places him in that rare air.”

Archie Manning, Eli’s father and a former quarterback for teams including the New Orleans Saints, said he couldn’t be prouder of his sons, both of whom have played in the Super Bowl twice. Peyton Manning’s Colts lost the championship to the Saints after the 2009 season.

“We’ve been here four times in six years,” Manning said. “Olivia and I kind of look at each other and say ‘What’s going on here?’”

‘Even Keel’

Eli Manning said he stuck to his routine on the winning drive, “an even keel, that’s important,” he said.

He then spent the game’s final moments watching anxiously as Brady attempted to lead the Patriots back. His nerves grew as Brady converted a 16-yard fourth down attempt and missed a deep throw to the end zone.

“It’s tough,” he said. “Brady is a tremendous quarterback. He did a great job of converting on fourth-and-16. All of a sudden, they throw one in the end zone. That’s nerve-wracking. We completed a Hail Mary this year. I was hoping another one wouldn’t be completed tonight.”

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