This season marks the 10th anniversary of Eli Manning cementing his legacy as the greatest quarterback of all time by beating Tom Brady in the Super Bowl for the second time.
Is Brady still playing and did he just win his seventh ring last season? Yes. But was he capable of beating Eli Manning in the biggest game? No. And, again, that happened twice, one of which was when Brady and the Patriots rode into Super Bowl XLII with a perfect record, but turned out to be a huge bunch of frauds who could neither tackle Manning when it counted, nor stop David Tyree — who made only 58 catches in his entire career, playoffs included — from beating them downfield.
That was the first Giants-Patriots encounter in the Super Bowl. Since the second one, New York is 57-87, with one playoff appearance, and botched last year’s tank so badly that they nearly won the NFC East at 6-10.
As a lifelong Giants fan, one who got to see two Super Bowl wins as a kid and two more as an adult in the Manning years, I’m pretty much set. And because of a combination of the Giants having sucked for pretty much a whole decade straight, plus the kind of fulfillment that some other teams I root for haven’t provided (hello, Knicks), as well as the NFL being run by assholes, and each year bringing more information about how harmful football is to the people who play it… I just don’t have the same emotional investment that I once did.
But I’m still addicted to football. It’s dangerous as hell, yes, but goddamn if it doesn’t feature some of the best athletes in the world doing incredible things on a weekly basis through the fall and into winter. The NFL also gives us the greatest regular viewing experience in sports with the RedZone channel: seven commercial-free hours, every week of the season, showing the most intriguing matchup at any given time while cutting in with highlights of, as host Scott Hanson always crows, “every touchdown from every game.” The fact that more leagues haven’t set up some kind of RedZone equivalent is an indictment of the idiots running those leagues.
As another NFL season approaches, I am no longer interested in the kind of in-depth season previews that I read when I was so deeply invested in the NFL that I would watch the whole draft on TV. Even as a sportswriter now, I don’t really follow the NFL beyond game days. It’s in our cultural bloodstream, so I’m never that unfamiliar with it, but if my job calls for writing something about the NFL, I’m probably doing some reading first to catch up with what I haven’t been closely following.
And maybe you’re the same. If you are, then hopefully this is the 2021 NFL preview for you, my fellow RedZone fan.
Part 1: Every Touchdown? From Every Game? (Bengals, Broncos, Eagles, Jaguars, Jets, Lions, Panthers, Texans)
Part 2: The Bathroom Breakers (Chargers, Colts, Dolphins, Falcons, Football Team, Giants, Patriots, Raiders)
Part 3: The Quad Boxers (Bears, Bills, Browns, Buccaneers, Cardinals, Kansas City, Titans, Vikings)
Part 4: The Prime Time Players (49ers, Cowboys, Packers, Rams, Ravens, Saints, Seahawks, Steelers)