The Giants broke me yesterday in much the same way Ernest Hemingway described going broke: Slowly, then all at once. I can't read any papers today or turn on the radio. I've been snippy with coworkers who dared share their sympathies.
I'm a shell of myself. I hate sports.
See, I'm already one of those fans. When I was home over Thanksgiving watching New York play the Jaguars I got in a tiff with my dad for my sullen "pick six" pronouncements anytime Eli lined up on offense and my more desperate "don't fumble!"s whenever Ahmad got the ball. "Why are you always so negative?" my dad finally yelled. "Cause I'm right!" I yelled back.
I was wrong, it turned out: the Giants won. But it's not like my dark imaginings weren't rooted in substance. I couldn't forget watching another Sunday-after-Thanksgiving game at my parents' house, against the Seahawks in 2005, in which Jay Feely missed three different field goals, two in OT. (I had stormed out after miss #2, only to be cajoled back to the den by my dad just in time to watch the third attempt go "wide right and way short." I'll never forgive.) History both ancient and recent supported my case. After all, the Jags game came only a week after Eli Manning dive-bombed the ball and the game against the despised Eagles, a painful shock to the system.
But that first Eagles game was, in comparison, a smack upside the head, more madcap than macabre. Yesterday's assault was unforgiving and gruesome, a Chelsea grin, the toying knifeplay of the onside kick and Michael Vick rendered forever disfiguring by DeSean Jackson's goal line run punch to the stomach.
And as usual, there was precedent. For me, it wasn't the Miracle in the Meadowlands game, because I wasn't born yet then so who cares about that, but rather the 1997 NFC Wild Card game that the Giants lost by a point to the Vikings. Similarities ranged from the safe-lead-squandering meltdown (that one was nine points with less than two minutes to play) to the converted onside kicks to, most devastatingly, the bonehead plays by opposing coaches — yesterday it was the close-up of Andy Reid returning his challenge flag into his pocket with the practiced motion of one accustomed to tucking lobster bibs into shirt collars; 13 years ago it was Dennis Green idiotically opting to punt on fourth and long) that seemed designed to hand the game to the Giants.Game over, we thought, incorrectly.
That game was the playoffs, so there was a thudding finality to that loss that I was spared yesterday, but the sickening feeling was the same, and I've cycled through four of the five Kübler-Ross stages of grief.
Denial came first as I prayed for a flag. Certainly somebody somewhere had done something illegal on a bonkers run like that! Anger followed, with my own rage made infamously manifest on screen by Tom Coughlin. (I genuinely thought for a moment he was going to punch Matt Dodge, and I was even more genuinely glad that he would.) The guilt and bargaining phase was brutal and lasting. I cursed myself for rare third quarter complacence that had me secretly wishing the game would get more exciting. I moaned that even an overtime loss would have been better. I lamented not saying yes to an offer to liveblog the game, because surely the course of history would have been butterfly-effected had I watched from a different couch. Most painfully, I regretted ever feeling sorry for AJ. Seriously, fuck that guy.
I'm trying to accept acceptance right now, but it's not really happening. I know, it ought to help that the NFC is shambles enough that the Giants are "win and they're in" going into Green Bay. But oh god, it just fills me with terror. Christmas is to be ruined. They are so gonna lose.
And so I remain mired in the penultimate phase of depression:
During the fourth stage, the dying person begins to understand the certainty of death. Because of this, the individual may become silent, refuse visitors and spend much of the time crying and grieving. This process allows the dying person to disconnect oneself from things of love and affection. It is not recommended to attempt to cheer up an individual who is in this stage. It is an important time for grieving that must be processed.
In other words, I look and sound almost exactly like this.