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2012 Super Bowl: New York Giants Vs. New England Patriots -- Bragging Rights, Legacies At Stake


The New York Giants and New England Patriots meet Sunday in the 2012 Super Bowl, a game that will add another chapter not only to Giants-Patriots history but to the history of the hard-fought New York-New England sports rivalry.

Whether it is New York Yankees vs. Boston Red Sox in baseball, or Patriots vs. Giants in football, this is a regional sports rivalry that pits friends, neighbors, co-workers and sometimes family members on opposite sides of the rooting fence.

Venture into New England and let it be known you are a fan of the New York sports teams and you can be made to feel very uncomfortable. New York sports fans may be somewhat more tolerant of those within the state's borders who root for New England's teams, but that doesn't mean they don't believe those New England fans are on the wrong side of the fence.

These days, New York fans have the upper hand. The Giants have the most recent Super Bowl title, of course making it even sweeter by earning it at the hands of the Patriots in 2008. The Yankees have the baseball upper hand as well, having won the 2009 World Series while Boston last won in 2007.

There is much more at stake today at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis than bragging rights, however. There is a championship at stake, there is history to be made and there are legacies at stake.

Today's Super Bowl XLVI marks the first time quarterbacks who have each won Super Bowl MVP trophies -- Tom Brady for New England and Eli Manning for the Giants -- will oppose each other in a Super Bowl game.

This is, of course, the sequel to the Giants' 17-14 victory in 2008, one of the best and most historic Super Bowl games ever. The Patriots are a different team than the 2008 group that was 18-0 heading into that contest, and have spent the week denying that revenge has anything to do with this game.

After that game, and the Giants' 24-20 regular-season victory this season, you can bet, however, that the Brady Bunch burns to crush the notion that the Giants are Patriot-killers.

There are legacies at stake today.

For New England, this is the fifth Super Bowl in 11 seasons for the Brady-Bill Belichick Patriots. They have won three of four and are commonly and justifiably considered among the best QB/coach duos of all time. A victory further stamps Brady and Belichick among the greatest of all time. A loss? The Patriots haven't won it all since 2005, and two straight losses will have to tarnish that legacy somewhat.

For the Giants, there are also legacies on the line. Manning, the quarterback, and head coach Tom Coughlin have never seemed to have the full support of the Giants fan base or the New York media. A victory today, though, and that gives them a distinction no New York quarterback/coach combo has ever had -- that being a combination that has won multiple Super Bowls.

Further, there has been much discussion this week that a victory lines up both for eventual enshrinement into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Very likely, that is the case. Winning multiple Super Bowls is not an automatic ticket (ask Jim Plunkett), but it is pretty close.