But here's my take on Ernie as a GM. It's very clear by his comments over the years that he was haunted by the Elway fiasco. It occurred his 2nd year as a GM, and clearly he never got over it (and who would, really?). 21 years later, he sees an opportunity to make up for it--a rare "do over" in real life that few, if any, people ever have. He grabs that 2nd chance--even almost blows it at the last minute because he was forced to trust the questionable character of Chargers' Smith--and it results in a major success for him and for the Giants.
I agree it's a bit silly to judge an NFL GM (or any individual really) by any single move or player, but my guess is that Ernie himself was suffering silently for a single failure early in his career, and was prepared to be judged by that. And now I'm sure he's pleased as hell if he's judged only by a single success story near the end of his career.
BTW, "I don't roll on the Shabbatz!"