Wednesday, January 30, 2008



Patience have been exercised, restraint as well. Deep breaths and steps back have been taken. Moments to reflect have elapsed. Perspective has been sought, found and kept. Powder has been kept dry. This silence, at first, was the result of shock; something akin to the catatonic state a victim of extreme emotional overload may lapse into. Once the pseudo-catatonia subsided, the silence was a form of pride. It was the highroad taken; it would have been so much easier to gloat. Most would have. We didn’t.

Each contest leading towards the Conference Championship was an underdogs struggle to disprove common knowledge. For the faithful, every one of those games was an experience in daring to hope, not just for a victory but, ultimately for exorcism. Too many ghosts roamed the arena; too many memories haunted those who had rooted for this particular team, this once storied franchise, this often hapless squad of no-names and a handful of big names who simply couldn’t deliver.

How many times had certain victory somehow, clumsily, often stupidly, eluded this team during the last few seasons? How many times was the “player who will take us to the next level” wheeled off the field on a little John Deere cart only to disappear into the tunnel beneath the stadium never to return to fulfill that promise, his dreams,and our hopes?

Then there were all the betrayals. Money became the only force that inspired loyalty. Free agency sucked away potential headliners and coaches followed their own greed under the auspices of taking on “new challenges” only to demonstrate success while pacing on an opposing sideline. Still, there was the faithful. Despite it all, there are those whose loyalty is pure, loyalty steeped in family and personal history, loyalty that is generational, passed on and down.

Finally, something happened. It was the result of cumulative factors both tangible and intangible, as much individual as collective. On Sunday January 20, 2008, the planets and other celestial bodies aligned, for four frozen hours the elements were rendered irrelevant, Mother Nature herself was knocked out of the way because there was business to be done and, by God, these men were going to do it.

Sports, particularly football, have long been utilized metaphorically to illustrate aspects of life: the values of teamwork and collective purpose, discipline, dedication as well as characteristics of competitors that represent the best in us physically and mentally. Football lends itself to metaphor and analogy; from the comic to the overblown, football is not a microcosm of life. It is a unique game and, at the professional level played by some of the most superior athletes on the planet. It is exciting and emotional and many other things but it is, essentially, a game.

Fans can read into it or take out of it whatever they chose. Cities with professional football franchises either embrace and support or vilify the home team: that is their prerogative. But, don’t think anyone from another place could utter derogatory sentiments about the home team. I can discipline and criticize my kid but don’t you dare say an ill word about her or your ass will be kicked. It’s a family thing; just like the home team comes to be part of the extended family for the faithful, the diehards, certainly not the fair weather types.

The New York Giants are in the Super Bowl. That is a fact. How they arrived there while 30 other teams failed to reach that goal, is a story of a season when a team grew up. Watching that maturity, for those attuned to its presence was rewarding and made up for many disappointments. Perhaps that is the other universal use of football as metaphor; there is always that inherent element, the chance, no matter how remote, for redemption. Individuals redeem themselves on the field as do entire teams. Redemption. Maybe that is too religious sounding a word to use here; perhaps it is hyperbolic and blasphemous. What the hell! The New York Giants are in the Super Bowl.

NOTE: Since Lou is a valued contributor, long time friend, and true blue Giants fan, we allowed him this philosophical post. It may never happen again. Beware - if the Giants win...? Who knows?

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