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

Voices
The Sumatran tiger, endemic to the Indonesian island of Sumatra, is an endangered species
voicesJonathon Porritt: The wild tiger population is thought to have dropped by 97 per cent since 1900
News
The Swiss Re tower or 'Gherkin' was at one time the UK’s most expensive office when German bank IVG and private equity firm Evans Randall bought it
news
News
Gardai wait for the naked man, who had gone for a skinny dip in Belfast Lough
newsTwo skinny dippers threatened with inclusion on sex offenders’ register as naturists criminalised
Sport
Van Gaal said that his challenge in taking over Bobby Robson's Barcelona team in 1993 has been easier than the task of resurrecting the current United side
football
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
The Great British Bake Off 2014 contestants
tv
Arts and Entertainment
filmThe Battle of the Five Armies trailer released
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
Beast would strip to his underpants and take to the stage with a slogan scrawled on his bare chest whilst fans shouted “you fat bastard” at him
musicIndie music promoter was was a feature at Carter gigs
Arts and Entertainment
Story line: Susanoo slays the Yamata no Orochi serpent in the Japanese version of a myth dating back 40,000 years
arts + entsApplying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Extras
indybest
News
Performers dressed as Tunnocks chocolate teacakes, a renowned Scottish confectionary, perform during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park in Glasgow on July 23, 2014.
news
Life and Style
Popular plonk: Lambrusco is selling strong
Food + drinkNaff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
Life and Style
Shake down: Michelle and Barack Obama bump knuckles before an election night rally in Minnesota in 2008, the 'Washington Post' called it 'the fist bump heard round the world'
newsThe pound, a.k.a. the dap, greatly improves hygiene
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

PMO Manager (Portfolio Management, ExCel, Cost Benefit Analysis)

£450 - £500 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: PMO Manager - 6 month co...

Senior Fund Administrator - Edinburgh - £22 p/hr

£20 - £22 per hour + competitive: Orgtel: Senior Fund Administrator, Top Four ...

Nursery Nurse

£7 per hour: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Would you like to have a better wo...

Microsoft Dynamics CRM Functional Consultant

£50000 per annum + benefits: Progressive Recruitment: A Microsoft Dynamics CRM...

Day In a Page

The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them altogether

Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them

Jonathon Porritt sounds the alarm
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on