Once upon a time, the Geiger girls and I enjoyed a Thanksgiving Day feast at Carmine’s in New York City with a very interesting crowd. Among the group was Sean Landeta, an elite punter who spent 25 seasons in first the USFL and later the NFL.
As we dined, Sean pulled out a cloth bag and produced his rings for the kids to ogle. He had two Super Bowl champion rings, two World Bowl title rings and several others.
They were over-the-top, diamond-studded works of art.
New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning picked up his second Super Bowl ring Sunday night after a smash mouth contest that was better than the hyped commercials that accompanied it and the lemon pepper wings I gorged myself on.
Eli, second son of the great Archie, won in Indianapolis where his elder brother, Peyton, is a living legend. Now suffering a neck injury, Peyton may not play again. Eli took up the slack, however, on the biggest of stages.
He was sharp from the outset, whistling passes into the tightest of spaces. His biggest throw was a 38-yard dart to Mario Manningham with his team trailing 17-15 in crunch time.
The Giants went on to take a 21-17 lead with 57 seconds left and withstood a Patriots charge led by Tom Brady to notch the win.
Manning, who has made a career of last-drive victories, was 30 of 40 overall for 296 yards, one touchdown and no picks. In the fourth quarter he was brilliant: 10 of 14 for 118 yards.
It was Manning and the Giants who routed the Atlanta Falcons 24-2 in the wildcard round of the NFL playoffs.
How far off are the Falcons from competing with the likes of New York and New England and a possible Super Bowl berth? A considerable distance.
Falcons QB Matt Ryan has gotten better each year but his team has not. Arthur Blank and Mike Smith need to improve their unit along the offensive and defensive fronts and at running back. Too often, Atlanta got manhandled along the lines of scrimmage and featured back Michael Turner is a plodder not a game-breaker. Far too often, he breaks into the open only to be run down from behind. A home run threat is needed there.
Meanwhile, as for the rings, Manning and Landeta are among the haves. Ryan and his teammates languish in the company of the have nots. They should look to New York and New England as models for success.
Walter Geiger is editor and publisher of The Herald Gazette and Pike County Journal Reporter.