Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Yo, Meathead!

Ah, now I’m finally getting a chance to blog again after our move to the Seattle area. The new house is still a mess, but the computer is up and running and the Internet connection is set. So here we go!

First, a huge thanks to Ed for keeping the site going while I’ve been out of the loop. And a great article covering the Super Bowl a few days ago! Miss ya, Ed!

Some big things have happened in sports since the last time I blogged—Roger Clemens and other former Yankees testifying before Congress, Shaq traded to the Suns, Pau Gasol traded to the Lakers, and (on a much more serious note) Vikings starting defensive end Kenechi Udeze diagnosed with leukemia and Panthers forward Richard Zednick having his carotid artery cut by a skate in a bizarre hockey accident (he had lifesaving surgery and is stable).

But I have to be true to myself today and write about the New York Giants again. I know it’s been over a week, and I know Ed covered the Super Bowl already, but I still can’t believe they won, especially against the mighty Patriots machine! As a lifetime Giants fan who has managed to watch at least 13 games a season for the 10 seasons I’ve been away from the East Coast, I am just beside myself! How ironic that when Michael Strahan was holding out of camp at the beginning of the year, I said it would serve him right if they went ahead and won a ring without him. I qualified that by saying I didn’t think the Giants were anywhere near winning it all this year. Shows how much I know!

Shows how much all the experts know, too! Just a tiny fraction of sportswriters and broadcasters chose the Giants to win this game. Not that I blame them. I thought that Big Blue had a chance to win but would come up short in the end. And that’s almost what happened until “Easy” Eli Manning, so cool under pressure, led his team on the biggest drive in Giants history, beating Tom Brady at his own game and taking the Giants to a winning touchdown in the final minute that will live forever in NFL lore. There were a few notable plays on the drive, but none was bigger than the now famous “Great Escape” by Manning, when he somehow got away from the entire Patriots defensive line and threw 32 yards for David Tyree, who caught the ball against his helmet amid tight coverage and set up the final scoring reception by Plaxico Burress.

The play of the Giants’ defensive front four was nothing short of spectacular and cannot be overstated. They kept the Giants in the game into the fourth quarter and harassed Brady like he had not been harassed all year. Not that I like anyone to be hurt, but it sure was great to see every time Brady hit the turf—and it must have been gratifying for the Giants, as well, especially since no one gave them any chance.

Even though Strahan can be a doofus in the public eye, he deserves his ring, having been the Giants’ best and most consistent player for the past 10 years. I wonder how former Giants linebacker Jesse Armstead felt seeing Strahan on the winning side of this game. I am also thrilled for Amani Toomer, who has been a Giant for a decade and holds most of the team receiving records. As such a steady player for so many years (and a class act, as well), he, too, really deserves this championship. As a side note, Strahan and Toomer, the only two veterans remaining from the Giants’ Super Bowl loss in 2001, did a terrific job at keeping the team focused on winning the prize. Their previous experience showed them that it’s not good enough to just get there. This team of All-Joes beat the All-Pros at every step of the playoffs.

I guess I have to take back any mean things I said about Tom Coughlin. He did an outstanding job coaching the whole season and for one game made Bill Belichick look like a lot less of a genius than everyone says he is. And Tiki Barber? I don’t care what he says, there must be a certain part of him that is torn up inside over retiring a year before the Giants won it all. But as much as I admired Tiki for his individual play, this year proved that Manning could not develop as the leader of the team as long as he was overshadowed by Barber’s overblown personality and ego in the locker room.

These kind of wins just don’t happen for this franchise, so I am still shaking my head and trying to understand that it really happened. Hopefully, General Manager Jerry Reese will be able to keep the team together for years to come, and the Giants will have a few more rings in the near future. They have some bright young guys and some others who are just settling into their prime, and it’s possible they can actually get better. With Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora as pass rushers, the Giants should be okay up front defensively even if Strahan decides to bow out on top during this offseason. Ahmad Bradshaw looks like a great running back, and the tandem of him and Brandon Jacobs piles up yardage. Corey Webster seems to finally have come into his own and can play alongside Aaron Ross in the defensive backfield for seasons. And as long as Eli stays healthy, he gives them what they need from a star franchise quarterback—the chance to win every game.

Also, even though Yankees fans can be insufferable, both Patriots and Red Sox fans have been trumping Yankees fans in that department lately, so I’m glad to see Boston get taken down a notch for a change after its recent dominance of the New York–Boston rivalry.

Congratulations to the Giants—ownership, front office, coaching staff, and players! Wellington Mara and Bob Tisch would be proud!

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