Monday, February 04, 2008
Those who know me well know that football is not my favorite sport; that baseball is how I roll. But maybe that's why I appreciate what the New York Giants accomplished last night, because they did more than win the Super Bowl in what will go down as one of the great upsets in NFL history. They shut up pro football's version of the Evil Empire, the New England Patriots, who were heavily favored to complete the first 19-0 season in the history of the league.
Many people outside of the Boston Metro area - and, I don't know, maybe even a few who live there at this point - had grown pretty weary of the Patriot Express. And how could they not, when you think about it? Forgoing the ongoing Spygate controversy concerning whether Patriots coach Bill Belichick had cheated his way to football immortality, there was much about this team that royally pissed off a plethora of fans. The way they ran up the score against opponents; the way quarterback Tom Brady seemed to score at will off the field, if you know what I mean - even the gall of the Boston Globe to prepare a commemorative book entitled 19-0 (and to make it available for pre-order on Amazon.com weeks before the Super Bowl) - all of this piled up in the karmic column of the Pats. But there seemed to be little anyone could do about it. After all, this team was that good. Their ultimate victory, to achieve the first undefeated season since the Miami Dolphins went all the say 35 years ago, seemed all but assured. I mean, surely the Giants and Eli Manning couldn't stop the inevitable, right?
Let's not take away from the Giants' story. They started 0-2, with calls for coach Tom Coughlin's head and the final burial of Eli as a high-profile bust. But they crawled back up in classic sports fashion, eventually winning 11 road games in a row, including all four of their playoff games - playoff games in which they were always the underdog. And they won their final game of the season in epic fashion, with a desperately successful scoring drive late in the fourth quarter, complete with a Manning-to-David Tyree catch that will go down in lore (and that's no hyperbole). For at least a few weeks, Peyton Manning is now Eli's older brother instead of the other way around. But, really, this is much more about the Patriots biting the big one, and about Belichick getting his comeuppance. Let's now relish their crushing defeat, the burning of their wax wings as they flew too close to the sun. Or, to use baseball terminology, the Yankees are dead. And that book just became birdcage liner.