Manning must live up to new standard

Updated: November 18, 2004, 1:05 PM ET
By Chris Mortensen | ESPN Insider
Tiki Barber probably didn't think about what he was saying, but it is the potential curse that faces Eli Manning.

"We hope we get Roethlisberger," said Barber on Monday.

Ben Roethlisberger, the Pittsburgh Steelers rookie quarterback who is 7-0 as a starter, is the mountain Manning has to climb now that he has replaced Kurt Warner as the starting quarterback of the New York Giants.

My feeling is, if you're a Giants fan, you have to hope that San Diego Chargers general manager A.J. Smith is right when he said that the Class of '04 is similar to the class of '83.

As Cowboys coach Bill Parcells and ESPN analyst Ron Jaworski both have suggested, Roethlisberger may be this class's Dan Marino, the quarterback ignored by too many teams in '83 only to be an instant legend as a rookie starter for the Miami Dolphins.

Manning may be John Elway, the anointed No. 1 pick of the '83 draft who was inducted into the Hall of Fame the same year these guys entered the NFL. The problem is, if that's true, we won't know for awhile. Elway struggled mightily as a rookie, although he gave glimpses of greatness. But he wasn't surrounded by a great supporting cast in Denver, as Marino had in Miami.

I wonder if we can make the same comparison with Roethlisberger and Manning.

Fact is, Roethlisberger has a better situation.