Last week, Peter Schrager of Fox Sports wrote about the excitement of having his beloved Giants in the Super Bowl. You can imagine how he feels today.
The offense—the strength of this Patriots team—got debacled."—Emmitt Smith, ESPN, February 3rd, 2008, 11:33 p.m. EST
Thank you, Emmitt Smith. With every new word you invented this season—whether it be "debacled" or "escapegoat"—came yet another reason to cherish following the NFL on a daily basis.
And last night's game—the ups and downs, the fantastic fourth quarter, the overall experience—well, that's truly what makes it all worth it in the end. As a Giants fan, it's easy to make it about "me," "us" and "we" today. But that's foolish. Last night's game was for everyone who's ever blown off a Sunday brunch with the girlfriend to lay in bed and watch the pre-game studio shows; everyone who's ever started doing fantasy draft research in mid-June; everyone who's ever bought a player's jersey and worn it out to a nice restaurant. Last night's game was what it's all about.
How many hours of your life would you say you devoted to the NFL this season? How many Monday mornings did you spend reading Peter King's text message conversations with a concussed Trent Green? How many consecutive NFL Films Super Bowl half-hour videos did you watch Saturday night on ESPN2? How many times did you envision an enraged Philip Rivers busting through a concrete wall head-first?
Following last night's thrill-ride, could you ever ask for even a second of that time back?
Of course, it's a little sweeter for the Giants fans out there today.
Though the mainstream media seems to be playing up the whole "They shocked the world" and "Nobody believed in them" card today, it's not really the case. In fact, a fair share of "experts" had New York winning Sunday night's game, and the money in Vegas was actually 3-1 in favor of Big Blue. On the whole, the Giants and their fan base were actually pretty confident they'd give the Patriots a run. As The Onion accurately proclaimed last week, "Giants: 'We Almost Beat the Patriots Once, We Can Almost Beat Them Again.'" Hey, at the very least, it'd be competitive.
That said, in the two weeks leading up to the Super Bowl, the Giants players did just about everything they could to drive a fan base nuts. Here's the short list:
• Just days after nearly costing the team their season, their quirky, somewhat aloof kicker goes on Letterman. Ugh.
• Their first round draft pick throws up all over the plane on the flight down to Arizona, causing an emergency landing midway through the trip. Yep.
• They arrive in Arizona dressed in all black, yet, only what appears to be half the team gets the memo. Most the young guys are dressed in street clothes or alternative-colored suits. Great.
• Their star receiver predicts not only a win, but offers a score. Terrific.
• A backup linebacker gets arrested for a D.U.I. just two days before the Super Bowl. Fabulous.
Somehow, some way, though, they overcame all this and the undefeated Patriots to become Super Bowl champions. David Tyree caught four balls all season; he had three catches and a touchdown last night. The Patriots had not been held below 20 points all season; they scored just 14 last night. Tom Brady wasn't hit all year; he was knocked down 23 times last night.
In the end, the images for the Sports Illustrated Commemorative beer mug commercial will likely be some slow-mo montage of Eli hitting Burress for the game-winning score, Tyree's miraculous catch and Madison Hedgecock (Wall Street banker or porn star—discuss!) dousing Tom Coughlin with a tub of Gatorade.
But there are other still-frames from Super Bowl XLII worth holding on to, as well. There's rookie Steve Smith getting the extra yards necessary and scampering out of bounds on a 3rd and 11 with less than a minute to go. There's older brother Peyton pumping his fist in the luxury box after every big play down the stretch. There's Wellington Mara's wife, Ann, kissing 18-year veteran Jeff Feagles on the cheek while passing him the Lombardi Trophy.
And there's Belichick, running off the field before the final whistle's even blown, having just been absolutely out-coached for sixty minutes. Where were the halftime adjustments? Where was the creativity on offense? 4th and 13? Defeated and in flux, he quickly shakes Tom Coughlin's hand, ignores the referee instructing him to return to the sideline, and shuffles to the locker room.
There's only one word to describe the man at that moment.
And that word is "debacled."