The Giants first Super Bowl victory came when I was thirteen and still riding high from the New York Mets World Championship the previous fall. I remember the details so clearly. I remember sitting in the living room of my sisters house during the first half and being nervous about how the game was going. I remember playful trash talking with my sister and brother, who were rooting for the Broncos, but I don’t remember it during the second half. I remember my brothers Pegasus toy from the movie “Clash of the Titans” being stripped of its wings so that it would look more like a Bronco…and then being abused. Eventually, it would find it’s way to my other brothers room, covered in shaving cream. I remember turning on WPLJ a few minutes after the game ended, just in time to hear “We Are the Champions” being played. My brother and I stayed up late that night throwing around a small football in the room we shared. The next morning brought snow and a school delay that we spent listening to the DJ’s talk excitedly and playing a home grown song, “The Giants are Number One…We went to Pasadena and had some fun” (or something like that), played over and over. Such sharp memories.
I was a senior in High School when war broke out in the Gulf. I remember the NFC Championship game far more than I remember the Super Bowl, and even then, the memories aren’t as sharp. Playing football in the shadow of war seemed to take the sharpness of my memory for a game away a bit. The Super Bowl was spent at my friends house with his two brothers (the three of them were among the biggest Giants fans I have ever known in my life) and my best friend, a Jets fan. I nervously paced the back of their den as the Bills made their final drive. I don’t remember actually seeing Norwood’s kick miss, I just remember getting into an ’86 Mets pile with my friends as we celebrated the Giants victory.
I lost a bet with my old coworker and roommate in Baltimore with the Giants third Super Bowl that I have yet to fullfil my obligations. The thing I remember most was watching all three of my favorite teams finish as the runners up in their respective leagues in a nine month period (Mets, Giants and Devils) that year and feeling pretty bitter.
The 1986 Mets changed my life. The Giants first two Super Bowl victories inspired me. The Devils first Stanley Cup picked me up at a point in my life when I really needed it. But the 2007 Giants…words cannot describe. I get tears in my eyes and chills up my spine just thinking about that team. My insides turn like a boy falling in love for the first time. I was a relatively new father, I had a two year old and nine month old son. The Mets failure in the 2006 NLCS and historic collapse of 2007 still seemed to burn away at my soul. I had started a new job just three weeks before. It’s not to say it was a dark point in my life, far from it…just a murky one in need of a distraction.
When the last second ticked off the clock on that Sunday night, Benjamin sat half in my lap, half between my feet, delirious with exhaustion. Like a wild man, I picked him up and pulled him so tight against me that I thought he might pop. I told him that the Giants had won the Super Bowl, and he had no idea. I then hugged my dad and my brother and I don’t think the smile left my face for a week. I still smile when I think of that game (after I make sure nobody can see the tears in my eyes).
Lets face it, there are a million things more important than your football team winning a championship, and sometimes I feel guilty for spending so much of my time thinking about it. And maybe that’s why they feel so important, because, in the scheme of things, they aren’t…they provide needed distractions from work and money and the economy and war and all the other things that can turn days long and murky. And not just championships…any game, win or lose, provides a respite from the things that really do matter and can make those burdens feel lighter (although they can feel heavier when you do lose).
Half my family roots for the Jets and a few of my lifelong friends are Jets fans (I’ve actually been to far more Jets games than Giants games), and every year, I hope that if the Giants aren’t going to win the Super Bowl, that the Jets do. It’s not hope born of pity, but of knowing what it will mean for them. There are few things in this world like having your team win the Super Bowl, and I hope they can one day know that feeling and have those memories forever burned into your mind.
And now for the daddy part of the story that justifies this post being on this site.
Back in August, I wrote a blog post about the struggles of living deep in Eagles territory, two miles from their training camp. I talked about my fear that I wouldn’t be able to combat that influence with my sons and that one day, they might root for that team, which was seemingly putting together the “Dream Team”, destined for the position that the Giants now find themselves in. In it, I wrote how “nothing creates a fan faster than winning”. Yes, I doubted my beloved Giants (but never gave up on them), however, because of this magical run, I may not have to worry about my offspring becoming Eagles fans. It is the Giants, not the Eagles, proving my premise correct.
All season I tried to get Benjamin and Matthew to watch football with me, but they refused. However, for the Falcons game, I bribed them with some pigs-in-the-blanket and snacks in front of the TV. They started asking questions and laughed at their old man every time he cheered. By halftime, though, they had disappeared to watch Tom and Jerry in another room, and I thought I lost them. However, each time I cheered, they came running and asked me the score. Ben started giving me high-fives and Matthew kept asking who had more points.
The Packers game brought more of the same, more high fives and brought on more questions, including when the next game was. There are a number of different ways that I can drive Matthew to daycare, including one that brings us past the train tracks and a house that usually has a seven-foot inflatable Giant’s player on the front porch. On the Monday morning after the Packers game, I asked Matt if he wanted to see if any trains around and he said, “No, I want to see the Giants guy!” My heart melted…the kid LOVES trains.
During the rest of that week before the Niners game, they both kept asking me when the next game was in the same way that they ask when Christmas. They also asked me to play football with them, with the small Giants football I have.
Last week, as I was tossing that small football back and forth with them, I was suddenly struck by the memory of tossing a Giants ball back and forth with my brother in the middle of the night in the room we shared after Super Bowl 21, because we couldn’t sleep. I was moved by it.
I don’t know what Sunday will bring, but as I have said since the Giants beat the Cowboys, anything else is just icing on the cake. With each win, the icing just gets sweeter. I feel truly blessed for witnessing the magic of 2007/2008 and it feels selfish to wish for anything more this season (but I can live with it). It has been so nice to share this with my children, that win or lose, I think the memories the Giants have given me this postseason will last just as long as the Giants previous three championships.
That said, GO BIG BLUE!