American Football: Manning has another shot at glory, but not Burress

Super Bowl will be repeat of 2008 showpiece but wide receiver has moved on after gun accident

Indianapolis

Super Bowl XLVI, to be played tonight in the Lucas Oil Stadium here, is a repeat of the 2008 showpiece, when the New York Giants shocked football by denying the New England Patriots a perfect season. It was decided late in the game when Plaxico Burress, the Giants' wide receiver, froze New England cornerback Ellis Hobbs with a clever feint and caught a pass from quarterback Eli Manning unchallenged in the end zone. But the subsequent careers of the three demonstrate the extremes of fortune in the United States' toughest sport.

Manning is still the Giants' quarterback, hoping to join an elite rank of his brethren who own two Super Bowl rings. He went into the 2008 game as the younger brother of Peyton, the Indianapolis Colts' outstanding quarterback, but has developed a reputation of his own as a tough competitor and team leader.

Some questioned his grasp on reality when he claimed elite status earlier in the season, but after a series of come-from-behind game-winning touchdown passes, as Troy Aikman, the former Dallas Cowboys great, said: "That question won't be asked again the rest of Eli's career."

If he cements his legacy with another game-winning pass, it will not be to Burress, who left the Giants for New York rivals the Jets last summer after serving 20 months in jail for a firearms offence.

For reasons best known to himself, he took an unlicensed gun into a nightclub eight months after the Super Bowl win, tucked into the waistband of his tracksuit bottoms. When it slipped down, he reached to retrieve it and somehow pulled the trigger, shooting himself in the thigh.

After he had served his sentence, Burress hoped to re-sign with the Giants but was dismayed to find that Manning, who had not contacted him in jail, preferred to remain loyal to young players such as Victor Cruz, who had replaced him.

"I was always his biggest supporter, even days he wasn't on, because I could sense he didn't have thick skin," Burress said in an interview in Men's Journal last September. "Then I went away, and I thought he would come see me, but nothing, not a letter, in two years. I don't want to say it was a slap in the face, but I thought our relationship was better than that."

However, for all Burress's later travails, he has the 2008 highlight to look back on. "Eli told me before I broke the huddle that if they gave me single coverage, he was going to throw it," he later recalled. "I had been watching film on Ellis Hobbs, and noticing that he likes to stop his feet right around the goalline. I knew exactly how and when to run. I knew that I had a great shot to make the game-winning catch.

"Being able to play in the Super Bowl, to win it in the fashion that I did, it's something that you dream of as a child," Burress added. "To do it against a team that was probably the best in history offensively? It's just something that will always be a part of me. It was a defining moment of a lot of guys in our careers, and it was a beautiful moment."

He can still dream of repeating it with the Jets, but for Hobbs that prospect is over. He was forced to retire last season at 28 after suffering a neck injury as a result of a hit while returning a kick-off for his next team, the Philadelphia Eagles, in November 2010. Coincidentally, the opponents were the Giants. He has moved into film production; his first project, The Last Fall, is the story of a footballer who must face early retirement.

Hobbs is relaxed about the 2008 touchdown, saying he "played the coverage to the best of my ability. It was what it was and it happened, simple as that. That call and everything leading up to that play, you cannot solely put that on anybody". He is much more emotional about the hit that ended his career. "It hurts. I still think about it. I just force myself to open my eyes because I don't want to see it. It's about the fact that something was taken away from me."

Manning has also had the fragile nature of an NFL career brought home to him by the fact that his brother's future in the game is in jeopardy after surgery on a neck injury. "You don't know if you're going to get a chance to play in another Super Bowl," he said this week. "You don't know when a season might be cut short on you.

"If you play this game long enough, you realise how precious each season is and how precious these opportunities are."

New England Patriots v New York Giants is on BBC1 tonight, kick-off 11.25pm

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Project Coordinator

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Project Coordinator is requir...

Recruitment Genius: Area Sales Manager - Midlands

£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: PHP Developer - 3-4 Month Fixed Contract - £30-£35k pro rata

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a 3-4 month pro rata fi...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Executive - OTE £26,000+

£16000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Telesales Executive is requir...

Day In a Page

John Palmer: 'Goldfinger' of British crime was murdered, say police

Murder of the Brink’s-MAT mastermind

'Goldfinger' of British crime's life ended in a blaze of bullets, say police
Bodyworlds museum: Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy

Dying dream of Doctor Death

Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy
UK heatwave: Temperature reaches 39.8 degrees on Central Line - the sweatiest place in London

39.8 degrees recorded on Tube

There's hot (London) and too damn hot (the Underground). Simon Usborne braved the Central line to discover what its passengers suffer
Jessie Cave interview: The Harry Potter star has published a feminist collection of cartoons

Jessie Cave's feminist cartoons

The Harry Potter star tells Alice Jones how a one-night stand changed her life
10 best barbecue books

Fire up the barbie: 10 best barbecue books

We've got Bibles to get you grilling and smoking like a true south American pro
Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

Making of a killer

What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most
Katy Perry prevented from buying California convent for $14.5m after nuns sell to local businesswoman instead

No grace of God for Katy Perry as sisters act to stop her buying convent

Archdiocese sues nuns who turned down star’s $14.5m because they don’t approve of her
Ajmer: The ancient Indian metropolis chosen to be a 'smart city' where residents would just be happy to have power and running water

Residents just want water and power in a city chosen to be a ‘smart’ metropolis

The Indian Government has launched an ambitious plan to transform 100 of its crumbling cities
Michael Fassbender in 'Macbeth': The Scottish play on film, from Welles to Cheggers

Something wicked?

Films of Macbeth don’t always end well - just ask Orson Welles... and Keith Chegwin
10 best sun creams for body

10 best sun creams for body

Make sure you’re protected from head to toe in the heatwave
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon files

Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games
Women's World Cup 2015: How England's semi-final success could do wonders for both sexes

There is more than a shiny trophy to be won by England’s World Cup women

The success of the decidedly non-famous females wearing the Three Lions could do wonders for a ‘man’s game’ riddled with cynicism and greed