Wednesday, February 6, 2008

They look like Giants

I have a confession to make. I’m not a real big fan of football. I don’t know team statistics, who is the best defensive lineman, or how many yards it took to complete the last quarterback sneak. I do, however, know the loyalty many fans have for their favorite teams, so I have learned to tread lightly when it comes to voicing opinions.

Being leased to a New Jersey-based carrier, I was in for the weekend with time to kill and a designated driver at the wheel. It was with just a bit of trepidation that I chose to go to my favorite watering hole on Super Bowl Sunday and watch the game. And with all of the media hype about the New England Patriots having it sewn up, many thought that it would be like a walk in the park against the underdogs, the New York Giants.

I like the underdogs, because I am one. I also love it when the little guys get a shot at greatness and prove themselves worthy. I went into the pub wearing a red and blue shirt quite by accident and found myself welcomed as one of the many hometown fans. The old pub was decorated with all the team colors and banners and big screen TVs with the volume cranked up. The place was packed with excited Giants fans, but they made room for me at the bar in front. It’s a Jersey neighborhood thing and you have to experience it to understand. I felt at home.

As football games go, it was a darn good one. Defense upon defense, each team met their match and they worked hard to gain yardage and points scored. You could feel the hopes and dreams of the hardcore fans soar and wane as the scores tallied upward. But they never lost hope, instead, stomping their feet and slamming the table tops in unison, singing “Let’s Go Giants” in cadence. It was a thing of beauty.

And nearing the end of the fourth quarter, with 35 seconds left and the Giants behind by 4 points, Eli Manning made his great escape and threw that 32-yard pass to David Tyree. Catching the touchdown pass at the back of his helmet and holding on for more than dear life, Tyree made Super Bowl history and helped change the world of football. The crowd around me exploded with high fives, screaming and tears of joy.

The underdogs became top dogs. They are truly Giants and it was my privilege to be among the faithful fans and be part of the experience. I may not know football, but I know a good game when I see one and that was one of the best.