Monday, February 6, 2012

Deja Blue

That's not mine . . . I read it somewhere and I liked it; so kudos to whoever came up with it (though I am pretty sure it wasn't this guy).

In the two weeks leading up to Superbowl 46 (I am not doing the Roman numeral thing), I was pretty content with the distinct possibility that the Giants would lose to the Patriots this time round. The 2011 Pats were a very good team. Don't listen to people who say otherwise; bad teams don't go 13-3. The New England defense had improved drastically in the second half of the season (though, admittedly, it could only go in one direction) and Tom Brady is one of the best quarterbacks in the history of football. Throw in some intangibles like some cockiness out of the Giants, the supposed emotional heft to this game for the Pats because of the death of Mrs. Kraft, the revenge factor, the Brady-played-shitty-against-the-Ravens-and-now-he's-pissed factor, and it all seemed to point to a Patriots' win. In fact, Open Bar and I were out before the game and I confided in him that, gun to my head, I would pick the Pats to win the game. (To his credit, he picked the Giants).

I was really not bothered by the idea of losing, though, because the win in Superbowl 42 was so amazing, so exciting, so gut-wrenching, and so unbelievable, that I didn't think anything could ever come close to that again - not even another win. Nothing could take that last one away. And even if the Patriots' won and gave their fans a chance to say that 42 was a fluke, I just didn't care. That night in February of 2008 was just so much fun and so perfect that I figured there was no possible way to recapture it.

But I think that maybe last night did recapture it - or at least came closer than I thought was possible. They did it all over again. This group of Giants (football players all!) -- nearly a quarter of them veterans of what was probably the most unlikely Superbowl win of all time -- somehow managed to rip our stomachs out through our throats again and reward us with a win that was every bit as exciting, improbable and impossible as the last one. If the David Tyree "Helmet Catch" was one of the most exciting plays in the history of the Superbowl, the Manning-to-Manningham throw and catch might have been one of the best.

And while that play tops the list of similarities between 46 and 42, it was hardly the only one. This game was practically a repeat of the last win. The fumbles that didn't go the Patriots' way, the halftime lead for New England, that creeping, sinking feeling in the second half that maybe the impossible run was going to come up one game short, the late scoring drive, the devastating sack of Brady on the final drive, and a hail mary that came up short for the Pats.

For all of us, too, the setting was uncannily similar. Just a few blocks north of the apartment we watched the last one in, we got to do it all over again. Same crowd, same too many beers, same chili (sofuckinggood, dude), same post-game celebration on the Upper West Side (hat tip to New York's finest for not writing us a ticket for open containers. Not making this up: we were drinking beers and high-fiving strangers on 110th and Amsterdam. OB was drinking right out of a champagne bottle. And, when a police car drove up, they stared us, we stared back sort of awkwardly, and one of the officers gets on the speaker and says "just take it inside, guys." So we did).

When the Giants won Superbowl 42, I wrote that "last night was one of the most exciting nights of my life, and one I really do not think I will ever forget. In fact, other than the night I got engaged, and the day I got married, it may have been the very best." Since then, I've welcomed two amazing kids into the world, so 42 has been notched down a peg or two on my list. But now it's got some company.

Deja vu.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Herm Edwards would like you to know that Tim Tebow is, in fact, a football player

This morning, in what I think is the first time ESPN has discussed Tim Tebow, Herm Edwards defended him against absolutely zero criticism whatsoever by saying this:

"You know what you respect? Whether you think he's a great quarterback or not, this guy plays football. And I've played professional football. He's played professional football. [The other guy] plays professional football. You haven't yet, but let me tell you something. This guy, Tim Tebow, he's a football player, and that's what you respect about the guy. Whether he's a great quarterback in the future, I don't know, but one thing about this guy: When he lines up, you know you're playing against a football player."
A big thank-you to YouTuber MrsGuerrasMole for posting that clip because it is maybe the best example yet of that line you sometimes hear during NFL commentary, that so-and-so is a football player (emphasis always added by speaker), as though that were some kind of, I dunno, point. Herm openly admitted he had no idea if Tebow was any good, but he was dead certain that Tebow plays football. That means something. It has meaning. It is a thing that MEANS SOMETHING.

I also love how Herm felt the need to point out to nerdy-nerd host Mike Greenberg that three people at the desk, Herm included, did at one time play professional football while, he, Greenberg, did not. Presumably, that experience makes Herm unusually insightful when it comes to, say, evaluating football players. Herm's actual insight, however, boils down to repeating Tebow's profession, only with emphasis, because that adds special meaning that Herm is sure you'd understand if only you had played in the NFL instead of being such a nerd, you nerd.

Now, this particular stupid football euphemism isn't Herm-specific; usually it's Dan Dierdorf spouting this nonsense, and plenty of other commentators are guilty of it. But man, oh, man, was this one good. It distills it to its essence and, through the magic of repetition, makes it sound sillier and arroganter and Hermier than ever.

I'm not sure if "he's a football player" ranks higher on the stupid football euphemisms list than when someone points out that Team A will probably try to "outscore" Team B, but they're probably 1 and 2. Sort of like how the best rock bands ever are definitely Led Zeppelin and The Beatles -- the order you want to put them in doesn't really matter, as long as you have them in the top two spots.

(And as long as you have Zeppelin at number 1, obviously.)