That imaginary map that made social media rounds before Super Bowl LII told truth. Most of the country rooted against the New England Patriots, and those living in the green got a bonus.
The Philadelphia Eagles dealt the injury, beating the Patriots 41-33 on Sunday.
Eli Manning dealt the insult, once again winning the day as the Patriots lost a Super Bowl.
The quarterback who handed the Pats their other two Super Bowl losses in the Bill Belichick-Tom Brady era won on the cultural field, where commercials and halftime shows matter. His Dirty Dancing routine with New York Giants teammate O’Dell Beckham outdid even a classic game.
OK, so Manning was stiff delivering moves Patrick Swayze mastered for the 1987 flick’s climactic scene. The quarterback who looked plenty nimble escaping a Patriots rush ahead of David Tyree’s “Helmet Catch” in Super Bowl XLII didn’t have to nail it. He just had to breathe the Manning brothers’ sense of humor into another commercial.
Success came in Eli Manning trying those moves with his natural, deadpan face.
And don’t undersell Beckham’s performance as Jennifer Grey's character. When he threw back his head with a joyous smile, he reached through the viewing audience’s collective throat and tickled the most stubborn funny bone.
Ex-Alabama safety Landon Collins billowed more laughing gas with his “just-let-him-dance” line.
The NFL’s ad ended with a forward-looking screen message, showing the league’s shield and touting “all of the touchdowns to come.” It wasn’t subtle, and neither was the choice of a 1980s mega-movie reference.
The king of leagues has taken public-relations hits. It needed to make fans laugh and invite the disaffected back to the dance.
Who but Eli Manning to once again win the day?