You always hear people say that we take sports too seriously, how we need to step back and gain perspective. There’s a war going on, there’s poverty, illiteracy, infant mortality, political races. But you know what else is really important?
MY TEAM IS IN THE SUPER BOWL!!!
But Sam, it’s just a game. Someone wins and someone loses. And that’s what’s so great about it! In every other phase of life, you never know. Things drag on for years and years. On Sunday, one ultimate showdown decides everything. We will have our answer. Either the Pats are the greatest team of all-time, or my GIANTS pull off the greatest upset of all-time, thus proving they are better than the best, thus making me very happy.
Don’t be fooled by those who tell you to find perspective or “It’s not life and death.” Trust me, it is. Football is like war. It’s an obvious analogy. The field general who throws bombs out of the shotgun formation is a charasmatic leader who gets all the glory and all the blame (QBs are treated like John Wayne at Iwo Jima). There are footsoldiers who get sacrificed like pawns (special teams wedge breakers), strategic generals who don’t go near the battlefield but devise war schematics based on their decades of experience (and yell a lot, I’m looking at you Tommy Boy), aerial assaults from delicate and dangerous weapons (an elite WR is like a $6 billion fighter jet), massive rumbling tanks that plow over land to sieze the high ground (offensive line, Brandon Jacobs), spies and traitors (the Patriots), kamikaze pilots (the undersized scrappy go-getter types), snipers who rack up bodies from a distance (kickers), theories of surrendering a battle to save resources for the larger war (punting), anti-aircraft missles with one purpose (reckless free safeties), doomsday weapons that cause the enemy to quiver in fear (Osi), torture and securing information no matter the cost to your own humanity (the things that happen at the bottom of a pile-on when a fumble is loose), and most glaringly the bodies (injuries. Horrible horrible disfiguring injuries.). You even have draft dodgers and people that want no part of the war but want to run their mouth about it all day and night (Tiki!), and finally, nations will sometimes go to war because of the economic boon it presents for the factories that build weapons as the whole economy is supposed to in theory become focused on one unified cause and lift the nation. That is kind of like fans buying up t-shirts and tickets, driving the $100 billion football industry which is much like a streamlined war machine stampeding over its lowly enemies.
So you get it… THIS IS WAR!!!
Throw in the fact that one team in this game is undefeated, treats its loyal veterans as expendable parts, cheats by filming its enemies with 700X zoom cameras, basically symbolizes everything we know about tyranny and oppression, and you have yourself an old-fashioned GOOD vs. EVIL showdown. Usually it’s the media’s job to create that kind of image in a big game, because we have been told those stories for thousands of years, and it generates a certain emotional response from our subconscious. Not required this time. The New England Patriots are actually a bunch of demons with no redeeming humanity. Randy Moss is actually the un-dead (he escaped from the Raiders a.k.a. hell). Look at their coach. He is a genius in drab clothing, hiding beneath his hood, never smiling. Could it be… Satan?
So it’s established. The Patriots are the villain. On the other side, my Giants…
This season challenged my notions of what being a fan is. Was I proudly supporting my team this season? My first thoughts of the Giants going into this season were “I hope they go 3-13, fire Coughlin, Eli throws a comical amount of interceptions like when people thought Vinny Testaverde was diagnosed color blind, and we start over.” With an 0-2 record, the worst defense in the NFL, and losing to the Redskins at the half in Week 3, the season was already over.
And then the lightbulb went on, they won that game, beat up on a soft schedule, went to London to play in the slop as Eli completed like 6 of 25 passes, came back to America and after a bye-week began their annual collapse. I say this not to be shocking or to promote hyperbole, but Eli Manning had perhaps the 3 worst games a QB has ever had all within the second 8 weeks of one NFL season. And they were different and horrible in creatively adventurous ways. Against Minnesota, me and my friend Josh were watching as he threw 3 touchdowns to the wrong team. He closed that game out by doing the old Tecmo Bowl move where you drop back and run around in circles and lose 25 yards. It was hilarious in a “If you’re going to crash and burn, try to land on an orphange” kind of way.
Then there was the Washington game. That was a Sunday night after I remember having a pretty good weekend. When I watch football, usually it’s laying on the couch, nothing too animated until the playoffs. For this game, I was a ranting raving lunatic, cursing at the TV. Accidentally mimicking the Faces of Coughlin. I’m surprised my neighbors didn’t call the cops on me, suspecting me of beating my girlfriend. I was angry. Eli threw the most incompletions in a game since Joe Namath. Preposterous!
And then there was the game up in Buffalo. I was driving to our Managing Editor Susan Price’s sister’s house, listening on the radio. The Giants fell behind 14-0. The collapse was complete, with unbeatable New England on the cusp of 16-0 looming in the future as a must-win to get in. Editor in Chief Ben Osborne was at Susan’s sister’s house when I got there, and I told him that I was having trouble deciding if I should drive off a bridge or just veer into incoming traffic. We watched the remainder of that game with a bunch of other Giants fans, and it was a great victory… except the Giants play ratio was run 24 times ELI RIDICULOUSLY INACCURATE PASS OR FUMBLE every other play. A team has never scored 38 points before getting so little from their QB.
So that’s three of the worst games ever played in a short period of time together. There is the phrase “Whipping boy” which is what Eli became. I would tell people that I enjoyed watching the Giants win, and I enjoyed screaming insults at Eli cause it was a fun interactive activity. I play video games, I like to feel I have a say in the outcome. So by screaming at Eli, calling him names, it made me feel like I was contributing something.
And then everything changed…
I went to that Giants-Pats game at the Meadowlands when the G-Men could have just rested everyone and gotten ready for the playoffs. As is written in the scrolls… they gave the world a show. Eli hit Plaxico deep early in the game, and he’s been a different QB ever since.
You know about the Giants magical run through the playoffs. I switched up my living room furniture situation, invited different people to watch the games, gave them assigned seats, and here we are.
I have lost 10 pounds in hand sweat, bitten my knuckles raw to the bone, survived countless heart attacks, black outs, life flashing in front of my eyes…
For the Green Bay game, I was aware of a bottle of champagne I had in the fridge. When Lawrence Tynes lined up to win the game at the end of regulation, my thoughts drifted to that bottle. I didn’t say anything out loud, but just the thought itself was a jinx. We were lucky to have won that game. I don’t need to re-hash everything that happened over the past month. It has been intense man!!! The Giants are at the dance… ready to try and beat the unbeatable.
Guess where we are all going? On a trip down memory lane…
Earliest football memory… Joe Montana dying on the field and leaving Giants Stadium on a stretcher in an ambulance. Giants win 49-3, get to Super Bowl a few weeks later. I remember watching half of that game at my downstairs neighbor’s house and the rest upstairs. I was young… Phil McConkey caught a pass off of Mark Bavaro’s face. Then I recall much joy.
By the time Super Bowl XXV came around, me and my delinquent friends were gambling. My best friend at the time was randomly a huge Buffalo Bills fan. His reasoning was he liked the names Thurman and Cornelius. He also used to open the windows in winter and watch the game on TV under a blanket, to feel that Rich Stadium cold. He was a big fan. We put $15 on the game. At the time my allowance was $5, meaning this was 3 weeks “salary” and I wouldn’t be eating lunch for a long time if the Giants lost. Scott Norwood! Perhaps the greatest event in world history. No… actually scratch that “perhaps.” It is. Sorry Vince.
The game against the Ravens… I was old enough to know they were lucky to be there. Not a good match-up. I had just started a new job that I would grow to hate, me and some co-workers went to a bar in a neighborhood that I would grow to hate (Upper East Side), and there was like a $20 for all the beer and wings you can drink deal. Bad ideas all around, don’t remember much else of game.
And now a fourth Superbowl. This means A LOT to me.
Everyone has predictions and expectations… I am terrified of the Tom Brady to Randy Moss 80 yard TD on the first play, and a game of running up the score, making sure everyone on the Pats has a TD or two. The Giants have been talking waaaaaaaaaaaaay too much. I am nervous.
I hope everyone has fun watching the game. But on the other hand, none of your lives will mean the slightest bit to me once that ball is kicked off… I hope the Giants pull off the greatest upset… OF ALL-TIME!!!
I AM PREPARED TO FACE MY DESTINY!!!
LET’S GO GIANTS!!! SUPER BOWL!!! WIN IT FOR THE GOOD OF HUMANITY!
Have a great weekend everyone. I don’t know what state of mind I’ll be in Monday…