One player saved brought home a second championship while the other saved a franchise from another mediocre season. Jeremy Lin and Eli Manning are far apart in success but which of them holds New York hostage in popularity?
Two rings with New York Giants and Saturday Night Live still not enough
Sometimes it takes a charismatic personality to draw fans to an athlete. Through seven seasons the young Manning has shown an icy cool and resilience few quarterbacks have in big games. It's why he wears two Super Bowl rings and the New York Giants are in place to become a dynasty. Sadly even now Eli doesn't have attention from Big Apple fans. Headlines fill with updates on Tim Tebow and how he gained weight. A memorable appearance on Saturday Night Live got overshadowed by Donald Driver on Dancing With the Stars. In fact, poor Eli couldn't even beat out an injury-plagued Ben Roethlisberger on the rankings of the Top 100 Players of 2012. One must think fans just don't like him but the truth is Eli Manning is boring. His sense of humor is dead pan and his comments have a quiet smarts to them but because of the other personalities in the city he gets little attention. It might not sound fair but that's reality.
Lin saved the New York Knicks and partly the NBA too
Meanwhile Jeremy Lin has enjoyed a bursting of fan affection few player have ever known. His timely coming out party during the middle of the NBA season saved not only the playoff hopes of the New York Knicks but the sagging league ratings. By that point basketball was still icing the black eye it got from the lockout and a string of bad injuries to popular players. The Knicks were in danger of falling apart with stars like Amare Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony out too. If Lin hadn't stepped in and led the team on a critical eight-game winning streak there is little chance New York basketball would have seen playoffs again. Instead the dynamic Taiwanese-American point guard from Harvard sits ready to enter free agency as a big prize with popularity that outshines even the mighty LeBron James in the eyes of some fans. Even though he has never won a playoff game or made an All-Star team like Manning has, Lin still draws more attention. That has less to do with skill and more to do with background. Unlike Eli, the number one draft pick, Lin made his journey to the pros the hard way as an undrafted free agent. That Cinderella background mixed with a Christian background and fiery actions on the court explain why fans love to watch him.
Eli Manning has no reason to fear Jeremy Lin. Not only do the two play in different sports but the New York Giants quarterback has nothing to prove with two rings and a Saturday Night Live appearance. Lin hasn't finished his journey, whether it's with the New York Knicks or not is for NBA free agency to decide.