Something new, folks.
I watched the Super Bowl in New York City, Terry in Sioux Falls (I’m assuming). But the NFL is as close as Americans get these days to shared religious experiences, so after much planning – a series of emails five minutes after the game ended, when we thought, hmm, we should do something on this game – we’re going to do a little back and forth, recapping another classic between the Giants and Patriots. As Terry noted, it’s like a written podcast. So take the average TVFury podcast and multiply the excitement level by, I don’t know, 12. Let’s begin.
Twice tonight I heard screams coming from different apartments in my building. Once after Ahmad Bradshaw put the Giants ahead, the other when the Patriots’ final pass bounced harmlessly off the Indianapolis turf. I heard a woman whoop and a man yell out, “Yeeaah!”
There’s no doubt New York is excited for the victory. Maybe someone will burn a car in celebration, though NYC seems to avoid the post-title riots that so often erupt in other (lesser?) cities. The city will throw a nice parade and the tabloids will write great headlines that are completely over the top when it comes to historical analysis. But still … only two screams from the building?
For comparison’s sake, when the Yankees ousted the Twins in the 2009 ALDS, I heard at least three screams from my neighbor in the elimination game. When the Yankees won the World Series, I heard car horns blaring in celebration seconds after the game ended and they continued through the night. The NFL rules, no doubt. But from this Minnesotan’s out-of-town perspective, it’s still a Yankees town.
But I did just hear homemade fireworks.
A) I’m glad that Bradshaw didn’t end up as the goat for scoring a touchdown. Because you know that would have become a storyline. You know how when you play tug of war with a little kid and you decide to stop all your force and let the tyke fall on his face, done in by his own force and momentum? That’s sort of what happened to Bradshaw. He’s so used to running like hell that he simply couldn’t stop when the Patriots defense went all Gandhi on him.
B) No big celebrations in SoDak, as far as I can tell. But I could have missed them. See, watching the Super Bowl isn’t really watching the Super Bowl when you have little kids. I wound up catching bits and pieces when not cooking, changing diapers, doing laundry and taking out the recycling. Somebody should invent a Super Bowl daycare. I’d even be OK if it were constructed like a dog kennel.
As for our next topic … You’ve probably heard that I’m a Packers fan. Well, my squad got eliminated – upset, more specifically – at home by the Giants. Should their championship ease my pain? I’m not really sure. I mean, it does sort of validate the playoff loss. But probably more than that, it validates the new Super Bowl model: Hot beats good. New York was one Tony Romo gaffe from missing the playoffs and maybe firing its coach – a guy now probably headed for the Hall of Fame. Then again, it could just be loser rationalization …
I’m not sure if the Giants victory really eases the pain for Packers fans or players. I bet most still think the Packers were the best team in the league this year – and, well, they were for 17 weeks – and when they see Eli Manning give his goofy grin after winning, they think it should be their man Aaron Rodgers looking dumb while holding the Lombardi Trophy, instead of doing his best schoolmarm impression when it comes to lecturing his NFC mates about their Pro Bowl effort.
I think it goes both ways. If you lose a close game to a team that goes on to win a title, you can’t help but think, “That could be us. That should be us.” Whereas if the team you lost to eventually gets blown out, you know your team wasn’t going to do any damage, or at least that’s how you rationalize it. The Packers, of course, got handled fairly convincingly so maybe fans aren’t having as many regrets.
I think Vikings fans experienced the first scenario two years ago. When they watched the Saints drill the Colts in the second half of the Super Bowl, they must have thought the Vikings could have done the same thing if only they hadn’t fumbled 15 times or hadn’t had 12 men on the field or if Favre hadn’t thrown that last horrible pass or if the NFL had changed its overtime rules a year earlier. It made the events in the Superdome even tougher to take.
Just with my own experience – and at home, if you cue up the Boss’s “Glory Days” while reading this part, it will go better – when I was a senior, we lost by six points in the subsection playoffs to Maple River, which went on to win the state title, back when there were only two basketball classes in Minnesota. We gave them one of their closest games in all the playoffs. But it did feel good knowing we took the state champs to the wire. It did make it easier. Although, if they hadn’t won the state championship, maybe I wouldn’t still be cursing our own defeat 19 years later.
Terry … Eli, now better than Peyton? Yay or nay?
Good question. How about this: Eli may be the better big-game quarterback, while Peyton remains the better quarterback. It’s sort of like what I wrote earlier, that the hottest team has been winning the Super Bowl more often than the best team lately. That’s not a knock or an endorsement of either guy.
Either way, Eli and his coach now have two titles together. That’s significant in a historical sense. No need to question them anymore. Ever. That said, the Giants’ defensive line is fierce, to put it in fashion speak. It’s amazing there are four athletic freaks like that in the entire world let alone on the same team. If I’m an NFL GM, that’s the part of the New York blueprint I try to emulate.
The Giants should have used those dudes to shield Eli after the final whistle. Holy mosh pit. The throng of players and media and security guards and aggressive idiots that gather in the initial celebratory moments is downright scary, and seems to be getting worse like the seven layers of hell. I’m looking forward to the day when somebody peace outs the pregame ceremony.
And how about poor old Raymond Berry wandering through the Giants players with the Lombardi Trophy? He, too, should have had a lead blocker opening holes. The NFL never fails in delivering strange moments during coin tosses or post-game scrums and celebrations.
As for the Eli-Peyton debate that people will surely have now – or did I just create it out of nothing and pretend others are thinking it? – I like your angle, though I sort of dread reading the New York papers in the coming days as I’m sure the Eli is better argument will take center stage. Someone – Reilly, perhaps – noted how Eli has a better road playoff record than Peyton, as if it’s Peyton’s fault he’s such a machine he leads the Colts to 12 victories and homefield virtually every season, limiting the number of road games they play. You can’t just go by Super Bowl victories, unless we’re prepared to live in a world where Troy Aikman is better than John Elway, Peyton and Dan Marino and the equal of Tom Brady. Is Big Ben with his two Super Bowls better than Peyton Manning? Is Bart Starr (a million cheeseheads: YES!)?
But you’re right about Eli and Coughlin’s place in history, though it will be amusing next season when people are calling for the old coach’s head when they sit at 4-5. As you noted earlier, they were a Tony Romo completion away from basically being eliminated from playoff contention. They probably shouldn’t have even been in this position. But they deserve all the credit in the world for the fact that when they do get in this position, they’ve pulled it out twice, both times in classic fashion.
I like that Raymond Berry was rocking a modified pageboy haircut, too. Bold move at that age, especially since it may or may not have been a toupee.
And, again, that’s two years in a row that the eventual champ was one fluke play from missing the postseason. (Green Bay needed that last-second punt return by the Eagles to win a tiebreaker.)
Did you catch the Bill Belichick press conference? Yikes. As I said on Twitter, it was the football version of Rasheed Wallace’s “both teams played hard” bit. By the way, I’ll take that over Allen Iverson’s “practice” rant. Totally underrated.
But I admit finding it difficult to analyze Belichick. At times like that, those tight lips make him seem like a sore loser. Except I think that’s the media man in me talking. In some strange way, I sort of admire how almost destructively competitive he is. America would probably be more evolved in 2012 if more people had his focus and desire. Of course, there would probably be some cons, too. Standup comedy would probably be cease to exit in Belichick’s America.
I’ve completely changed my view on Belichick. It’s happened gradually but now I love the guy, though I’ll never be unhappy with a Boston team losing a big game. I just read David Halberstam’s book on Belichick, The Education of a Coach. Great read by the late author, who provided insight into Belichick’s past. He was breaking down tape for his dad when he was like eight years old. And the NFL Network’s documentary on him showed him behind the scenes, cracking jokes, busting chops and occasionally, unless my TV was deceiving me, smiling. His press conferences remain a joke, but I suppose at this point it’s simply who he is, to show a different side would mean altering his entire public personality. I guess his legacy has perhaps taken a few blows with these two Super Bowl losses, but if you could take any coach in NFL history, who would you rather have? He has the Super Bowl titles but he’s also kept the Patriots as a dominant team in the free agency era, something Lombardi, Walsh and Noll never had to deal with.
Speaking of legacies, tonight’s game probably won’t do much to hurt the NFL’s, will it? I think this past decade of Super Bowls – when you’ve seen classics such as Giants-Pats (twice), Steelers-Cards, Patriots-Panthers and a host of other down-to-the wire games – simply adds to the insanity around the league. In the 1980s, when the NFC was seemingly beating up on the AFC entrant by 25 points every year, the NFL, believe it or not, wasn’t the most popular league in the country. That’s the era when SI routinely called the league boring. A host of factors have made the NFL what it is today, but I have to believe these entertaining, tightly contested Super Bowls play a role. A few months ago people actually wondered if the lockout would hurt the league’s popularity. Those fears probably disappeared the moment players reported to camp. And now, after another classic final game, we’ll read story after story about King Football and in a few days we’ll start reading about the combine and the draft. And can you believe preseason is only six months away!
People can’t get enough of the NFL. And, really, when you get games like this and a playoffs like we just saw, you can’t blame them.
To me, the real genius of the NFL – and maybe I’m giving them too much credit here – is that they have crafted a league and a system that seems to encourage and/or enable thrilling finals and improbable runs. Think about how much goes into something like that. Astonishing. Even the scripted WWE must be jealous of these outcomes and storylines.
If only they could apply that perfect formula to the Super Bowl halftime show …