Monday, January 9, 2012

I'm a Giant Fan, but not a GIANT Fan

I root for the Giants, but don’t consider myself a diehard fan, which to me would entail calling in to sports radio shows, owning (and wearing) an officially licensed NFL jersey, and having the ability to spout off stats about third string receivers…all from the comfort of Mom’s basement! But I am enough of a fan that I have an animated light-up Giants figure in my front yard, my son’s name is Eli, and I recently shelled out over $100 for a ticket to see their first ever play-off game in their new stadium, a 24-2 beat down of the Atlanta Falcons!  

But lest you think I’m a closet diehard, let me clarify that the yard ornament was a gift, which I display ironically, and not fanatically. My wife was the one who came up with the name Eli, and in all seriousness (and obliviousness) also suggested Peyton as a potential girl’s name. And as for buying those tickets, sure, I was excited to go, but had to be forced into wearing my one and only item of Giants’ clothing, a sweatshirt, after my wife criticized the pair of jeans and chamois work shirt I had on.

The point is, I don’t live and die by Giant victories or losses. Was I excited when they beat the “undefeated” Patriots in Super Bowl XLII? Hell yeah!  But was I distraught when that jackhole, Desean Jackson, returned a kick for touchdown to complete Michael Dick and the Eagles miraculous comeback that sent the Giants spiraling into oblivion last year? Hell no. And I’m not still bitter about it either!

I also don’t make it a point, or priority, to watch EVERY game. I might check in every now and then, or sit and watch the second half.  But if something else is going on, like a wedding, or funeral, I’ll do the right thing and go. When all is said and done, it’s only a game. Real life should always take precedence over sporting events. Besides, that’s what God invented smart phones for.

Speaking of which, back in the pre-internet days when the Giants won their first Super Bowl against the Broncos in 1987, I was on a school trip to Florida. We were at a place called Medieval Times, which for those unfamiliar with it, is a large themed restaurant set to resemble a castle, complete with a King’s Court and jousting knights. Needless to say, there was not a television to be found. My friend and I kept leaving our table to seek out a radio, but to no avail…until we walked past the curtain behind the king’s throne and heard the unmistakable sounds of a play-by-play announcer. We peeked in and there was the “King” in full regalia, listening to the game between his appearances on the throne. He made us go back to our group, but not before we convinced him to update us on the games progress. Which he did! He cleverly peppered his prepared speeches about fair maidens and brave knights with subtle mentions of the “Northern Giants” and their battle with the “Western Horsemen.” It was great, and to this day remains the most memorable Super Bowl I’ve never seen.

By the time the Giants returned to the big game, I had graduated high school. My friends and I rented a hotel room and watched every second of it – but in all honesty, for much of the broadcast, we were more engaged with Bud Bowl II, the state-of the art (at the time) series of commercials featuring beer bottles playing football, than the actual game. But, as corny as it sounds, I clearly remember many of us holding hands as Scott Norwood lined up for his potential game-winning field goal attempt. It went “wide right” and we went right wild, jumping up and down in the bed, spraying each other with beer, screaming and cheering like WE had just won the game.

Fast-forward ten years to Super Bowl XXXV, where the Giants got trounced by the Ravens. All I remember was that it was played on my dad’s birthday  - he who introduced me to the Giants (figuratively and literally, as he once brought me to a charity basketball game where I got to meet Lawrence Taylor, Larry Flowers, and Joe Morris) and they gave him the worst gift ever. I was sick with the flu that night, but even sicker by what I saw on the field. It was the first Super Bowl I actually stopped watching at halftime.

But the 2007 Giants more than made up for that loss when they beat the previously undefeated Patriots in the most exciting of fashions. We hosted a Super Bowl party at our house, which was mostly attended by our hippie friends who had little to no interest in the game. But that fourth quarter had us all on our feet, exhorting the team on to victory. Even my wife was excited. And not just for me. She was truly engrossed in the game.

And now after several years of setbacks, we’re back. But as a self-professed non-die hard fan, I’m not naïve enough to predict another Super Bowl victory. Sure, they came close to beating the Packers a few weeks back, but that was in the friendly confines of Giants Stadium (money well spent, MetLife. It’ll always be Giants Stadium!) But Lambeau, and a fully rested Green Bay team, will present a much bigger challenge.

But stranger things have happened. Just look at the Broncos. But unlike Tebow, we don’t need God on our side. We’ve got Eli, JPP, and Victor Cruz! Not to mention, we’re GIANTS! Meaning, as the underdog, we’re both David and Goliath. And they’re just a bunch of Packers. Which means what, by the way? That they put stuff in boxes? How intimidating! But come Sunday, it’ll be the Giants packing their bags for a trip to the Conference Finals while Green Bay and their quarterback with a girl’s name cry themselves to sleep on their foam cheese hats.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go pick my jersey up at the dry cleaners and place a call from “Mike in Midtown.” Oh, and Coach Coughlin, if you’re reading this, you should really consider activating Brandon Bing for this week’s game. I watched him play cornerback for Rutgers, and that boy has some talent!

1 comment:

  1. Well, by now you know what happened. You must have loved that game. Your fandom is healthy. The face-painted people have a problem, an addiction possibly as unhealthy as drugs.
    As a casual fan, though, maybe you can explain to me why Eli's helmet looks so much bigger than everyone else's. He doesn't have a large head. But that helmet is abnormally large.