Super Bowl Sunday. There is no day bigger in American sports. Legacies are made and sometimes changed forever. A big Super Sunday and you can land a cushy gig with Fox or CBS for the next ten years, maybe end up in Canton Ohio. You become football royalty.
Lose and you become an also ran. Years later you can become a frustrated, bitter old football player. That's how big this game is. If Aaron Rodgers and the Packers win it, he is well on his way to being a legend. If they lose, he could end up being the "just wasn't as good as Favre" guy.
Here are ten players who turned Super Bowl success into stardom or perhaps turned Super Bowl failure into a tarnished resume.
What would Broadway Joe's legacy have been if not for Super Bowl III? He would be remembered for a panty hose commercial. Other than that game he was probably just a pretty good QB. But instead he ended up with a sweet gig on Monday Night Football. To this day Super Bowl Week does not go by without us seeing him waving that finger as he is walking off the field in victory.
Let's say the Dolphins had a defense against Joe Montana in Super Bowl XIX. What would Marino's legacy be today? He would be huge! Yeah he still has the gig on CBS and that's nice, but he would probably be in more commercials than Michael Jordan. He would be Peyton Manning.
If not for a Super Bowl win against New England in early 1997, Brett would be known as the biggest post season choke artist of all time. He really needs to go stick up for Desmond Howard because he owes Howard big time. Take away that win and he would have been done right after Rodgers took over in Green Bay. Nobody would have wanted him. Not even Wrangler.
How big would Boomer be if not for a late TD drive by Montana in Miami? He would have been really big. He's still doing alright with Marino and Shannon Sharpe on CBS without that game. With it and he's really huge. With his faired haired looks he'd probably be in a ton of ads. Might even be looking at a Hall of Fame induction down the road.
Two reasons for Kurt to be on the list. What if Kevin Dyson could have stretched one more yard? Would we even remember him now?
But what if he hadn't thrown a 100 yard pick six on the last play of the half against Pittsburgh two years ago? Or what if his defense could have made one more play down the stretch? He would be a sure fire Hall of Famer. Now he's probably borderline.
How huge would it have been for him had he been able to pull out that game against New England in Jacksonville eight years ago? He will be in the boat with Marino and Esiason when he's done. I bet Shanahan would have had a tougher time benching him.
For that matter, how big would it have been for T.O.?
Fran Tarkenton is the ultimate "can't-win-the-big-one" player. He is the poster boy. He is the reason Jim Kelly can sleep at night. And now it seems he is a bitter old man. He doesn't like Favre. He doesn't like Mark Richt. And he doesn't care who knows it.
Had he been able to win one of those games, he would probably still be big time. We might have him on FOX instead of Terry Bradshaw.
What would Jim Kelly be right now if Scott Norwood could've hooked one field goal inside the upright? He'd be John Elway. If Buffalo wins that game, maybe they take that momentum into the next game and win it too. Who knows? Kelly is almost a forgotten man and the Bills a forgotten team. That's a shame for a team who won four straight AFC Championship Games. Ask McNabb how impressive that is.
These guys, especially Eli, are getting great mileage out of one great day. Peyton has avoided being another Marino. But Eli? WOW! How much is New York paying him? And could Peyton be in any more ads? These guys will have a great future after football even if neither wins another title.
Think about the fate that awaited Elway had he not been able to lead the Broncos to that upset win over Favre and the Pack. He would've been a five time Super Bowl loser. Tarkenton and Kelly on roids would have been his legacy. Don't think he would've come back to lead the Broncos back next year either. Most likely Denver would have nudged him out the door. Now he's running the team.