As the credits rolled and I filed out of the movie theater, I was still surprised at how off I was. The movie did have Will Smith and bad guy monsters, but that’s about it. The movie was a lot less Independence Day and a lot more Castaway, with Smith asked to carry long stretches of the movie on his back because he’s seemingly the last person alive. I don’t think I would have been disappointed if the movie was exactly how I envisioned, but I do know I enjoyed it much more because it was so radically different from my expectations.
And that brings us to last Sunday, when the wife and I headed over to our buddy’s house for the annual Super Bowl party to see the New England Patriots take on the New York Giants. Again, I had a pretty good idea of how things would play out with Bill Belichick, Tom Brady and friends steamrolling through Eli Manning’s crew for the second time this season en route to the most impressive season in the history of American sports. Admittedly, I didn’t want to see this happen, but the pessimist in me wouldn’t let me believe for a moment the Giants had a chance to win.
Maybe it’s because I covered them twice this year, but the Giants just didn’t seem like a Super Bowl caliber team to me. Their Week 3 win on the road against the Washington Redskins seemed much more like a case of the ‘Skins snatching defeat from the jaws of victory in the second half than the Giants doing anything to warrant their first win of the season. Fast forward to Week 15, when the Redskins came to New York and in the swirling winds of the Meadowlands, made Eli Manning look like a knuckleball pitcher, not a Super Bowl MVP. Manning finished 18 of 52 for 184 yards in an ugly loss. He missed more passes (34) than Todd Collins attempted (25) that night. Go back and watch that footage and tell me this Giants team was capable of greatness.
But again, as the credits rolled, I found myself extremely surprised and satisfied at the show I had just witnessed. The brash and mighty Patriots, who had trademarked “19-0” early in the week, suddenly were coming to grips with mortality. The big bully had been knocked on his ass by the autistic kid. For the first time, Eli Manning got the chick and Tom Brady’s ego took the hit.
That when I paused for a moment and wondered, “Why am I enjoying this moment so much?” I’m not a Giants fan. What do I care if they win? But it wasn’t so much about them winning as it was the Patriots losing. From top to bottom that entire organization and their fanbase had become insufferable.
Let’s go back to Spygate, when the Pats got caught with their hand in the cookie jar filming the New York Jets hand signals. Instead of showing remorse or apologizing, the hooded wonder at head coach remained defiant. Look, we know everyone cheats. But if you get caught, you’re gonna get punished (well … unless you’re a drunk-driving celebrity). If Belichick would have said “sorry” and sounded halfway sincere, people would view him entirely different. But all we know about him is he was banging a married chick when he was in the Giants organization and now he’s been caught cheating again on a much bigger scale.
The next guy on the food chain is the handsome signal caller, Tom Brady. I learned everything I needed to know about him when word got back that Giants receiver Plexico Burress had predicted a New York 23-17 victory for the Super Bowl. Already battling a bum ankle, Brady nearly fell out of his chair laughing at the preposterous notion a rival player might think his team has a chance to win. “We’re only going to score 17 points?” Brady mockingly asked with an over-the-top laugh. “Is Plexico going to play defense?”
Hey Tom, I couldn’t help but notice the final score – 17-14. If anything, I guess Burress gave you too much credit. He must not have known that you were going to get planted on your royal ass 18 times and sacked five more times during the formality of the big game. So on behalf of Plexico Burress, let me formally apologize to you. I’m sorry he gave your offense too much credit.
Fittingly, the game’s biggest play came when Eli Manning completed a monumental pass to seldom used receiver David Tyree on Rodney Harrison, who was suspended for … you guessed it … cheating. The NFL suspended Harrison four games because he admitted to investigators that he obtained human growth hormone. If ever you needed proof that karma does exist, this play was it. It was enough to send Belichick home early (oops … did I just say that?)
And finally, the last piece to this puzzle was Tiki Barber. Man, oh man … I couldn’t help but smile when I realized that the Giants won the Super Bowl without their self proclaimed “best player.” The clubhouse cancer retired last year and now spends his days with Matt Lauer on the Today show, and yet the Giants were somehow able to overcome the “loss.” Without Barber and Jeremy Shockey around to pat themselves on the back while telling everyone how great they are, the Giants played their best football in recent memory. I just hope that one day they can make a movie about this Super Bowl. Now, if they could just come up with a catchy name …
Brian Murphy is an award-winning sportswriter, and still doesn’t know what the hell he’s talking about. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.