featured photo: Tech. Sgt. Michael Holzworth

The Guarantee. The Big Blue Wrecking Crew. The Wide Right. The Helmet Catch. The Throw. The Unseasonably Warm Winter Day Followed By A Blizzard 12 Hours After Kickoff. 

New York City has been at the epicenter of major Super Bowl moments throughout the years. As former New York Giants and two-time Super Bowl-winning head coach Bill Parcells once said, “you are what your record says you are,” and the Giants and Jets are a combined 5-1 in the Big Game. 

Here is our list of seven iconic players who have defined New York’s success on football’s biggest stage (yes, we’re starting this list with a former Seattle Seahawk who made his name for an incredible individual performance in New Jersey)

7. Malcolm Smith

A former seventh-round pick who only started eight regular season games in 2013, Smith registered 10 tackles, a fumble recovery and an interception returned for a touchdown en route to a 43-8 win over the Denver Broncos at MetLife Stadium. The linebacker was named Super Bowl XLVIII MVP for his standout performance as a member of the “Legion of Boom” defense.

6. Michael Strahan

Before his “Good Morning America” days, the Pro Football Hall of Fame defensive end “stomped out” opposing offenses. Strahan registered a single-season NFL record 22.5 sacks in 2001. In 2008, he led the Giants to a historic 17-14 Super Bowl XLII upset win over Tom Brady and the previously undefeated New England Patriots, the final game of Strahan’s illustrious career.

5. Matt Snell

Did someone say upset? Though one of his Jets teammates has a more iconic moment in the history books (more on that later), the standout fullback had an individual performance for the ages in Super Bowl III. Scoring the game’s only touchdown in the second quarter, Snell rushed for 121 yards and added 40 yards receiving on the day as the Jets defeated the Baltimore Colts, 16-7.

4. Phil Simms

A member of two championship Giants teams, Simms was the model of big game quarterbacking efficiency in the franchise’s first Super Bowl win. He completed 22 of 25 passes for 268 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions as Big Blue defeated the Denver Broncos, 39-20. Simms’ 150.9 passer rating earned him the title of Super Bowl XXI MVP.

3. Lawrence Taylor

Arguably the greatest defensive player to wear a football uniform, the linebacker known as “LT” won the NFL MVP award in 1986 with 20.5 sacks in the regular season of the Giants first Super Bowl campaign. Four seasons later, the Taylor-led Big Blue Wrecking Crew defense stymied an otherwise explosive Buffalo Bills offense. A missed Bills field goal attempt in the closing seconds of Super Bowl XXV sealed a 20-19 Giants victory.

2. Eli Manning

The king of cool, Eli Manning is the fifth player to win multiple Super Bowl MVPs and is defined by “The Helmet Catch” and “The Throw” in respective Big Games. Manning’s 32-yard improbable strike to David Tyree in their Super Bowl XLII game-winning drive is one of the most iconic plays in football history. Down 17-15 with less than four minutes remaining in Super Bowl XLVI, the comeback kid delivered a perfect 38-yard pass to Mario Manningham that highlighted the game-winning drive in the Giants’ 21-17 win over the Patriots.

1. Joe Namath

Two seasons before the official AFL-NFL merger, the AFL was considered the “David” to the NFL’s “Goliath.” That notion began to change three days before Super Bowl III, as the outspoken Jets quarterback famously said “We’re going to win the game. I guarantee it.” Despite being 18-point underdogs, Namath produced an MVP effort by completing 17 of 28 passes for 206 yards, guiding the Jets to a historic 16-7 win over the Baltimore Colts in 1969. 

What propels Namath to the top of the New York Super Bowl icons list? The Hall of Famer was essentially the team’s offensive coordinator, as he called most of his own plays. Will that feat likely be duplicated in a Super Bowl ever again? No. 

I can almost guarantee it.