CHANDLER, Ariz. - Vindication for former New York Giants general manager Ernie Accorsi came in one gut-wrenching, last-minute drive engineered by Eli Manning to win the Super Bowl.
The architect of the blockbuster trade that brought Manning to the Giants on draft day 2004, Accorsi has been the scapegoat for frustrated Giants fans for the past 31/2 years.
Every time Manning struggled, Accorsi got blamed for mortgaging the future of the franchise on Peyton Manning's not-as-good little brother.
Manning finally delivered on those high expectations when he led a game-winning 83-yard touchdown drive in the closing minutes of Sunday's 17-14 win over the New England Patriots. He was the MVP of a Super Bowl that will be long
remembered as one of the greatest upsets in football.
'I couldn't be happier,' Accorsi said Monday at the Giants' team hotel. 'I have a thick skin. To me, it was part of the job. If he wasn't playing well, I was going to be criticized. I don't have any vindictive feeling. It was too great a moment to think about that.'
Accorsi said the frantic fourth quarter in some ways mirrored the ups and down of the past four years with Manning.
It started in the 2004 draft.
Despite being encouraged by the Manning family to pass on Eli, San Diego drafted him No. 1. The Giants then acquired him from the Chargers for the rights to quarterback Philip Rivers - the No. 4 pick overall - and a couple of draft picks, one who turned out to be All-Pro linebacker Shawne Merriman.
Accorsi loved Manning's natural skills, and after an interview, the general manager was convinced he was the quarterback the Giants needed.
'He was unflappable,' Accorsi said of Manning. 'His mother told me when her mother passed away that 'Eli gets his calm from my mother. He is different from Peyton.' I always thought he had the perfect makeup. I am sure (criticism) bothered him but he never showed it, so I was not worried about his makeup and I wasn't worried about his talent.
"With a quarterback, the difference for me is always the intangibles ... Can he take the team down the field with everything on the line and get his team into the end zone? That's all I care about.'
Manning reviewed the season Monday, noting the Giants overcame the adversity of an 0-2 start by sticking together and believing in themselves.
The only difference he felt the day after his biggest game was now he could call himself a Super Bowl champion.
'It doesn't change my attitude, my personality, or even my goals for next season,' Manning said, noting he would not mind playing in next year's Super Bowl against Peyton, who won last year's MVP award in leading the Indianapolis Colts to the title.