This will be the only football post I will ever write in my life.
I’m not a football fan. I don’t live and die by a college or NFL team’s fortunes. The most exposure I get is from sports talk shows and the occasional segment of SportsCenter, which gives me enough idea what’s going on to talk with a friend who does live and breathe it.
My sport of choice is baseball. Baseball is a game; football is war. Baseball is played in ballparks like Wrigley Field and Fenway Park; football is played in stadiums like Soldier Field and War Memorial Stadium. George Carlin describes the differences so much better and funnier.
I wasn’t going to watch the game. Not even for the commercials. But my friend (who will remain nameless for obvious reasons) called me 30 minutes before the coin toss and said, “You have to watch it.” He is a Patriots fan who lives in Tennessee (go figure). Optimistic could not describe the confidence he held in his team; without a doubt, he knew they would win. There was no question. 42-10, he told me. “And I’m being generous giving them 10 points,” he added. He also knew the eventual MVP would be either Rodney Harrison or Randy Moss. “You should watch it,” he said again.
So I did. I sat on my couch with a bag of Fritos and a can of Mountain Dew and I rooted for the Giants.
I’ve always like the underdog, no matter what sport or aspect of life. We all do. The media wrote off Eli Manning and company and prepared for The Perfect Season to be fulfilled. My loyalty wasn’t without doubt either. Though shaky in three or four games, the Patriots were a good team (my friend told me so) and would beat the Giants. Tom Brady may not have the best game, but watch for Harrison and Moss. 42-10, he said.
During three-fourths of The Game, Brady was like groceries: sacked. I’ve never seen a quarterback with less protection from his defense than I did last night. But they did hold New York to a field goal for most of the game. It wasn’t until the fourth quarter that Brady eased into somewhat of a groove, snapped off a few throws, and got what looked to be a clincher touchdown with less than five minutes to play.
But Eli, always known as Peyton’s kid brother, finally walked out from behind his shadow and into the spotlight and Super Bowl history. It was truly great to watch: three Patriot defenders had him sacked, but Lil’ E somehow managed to get out from under them and made an incredible throw for a first down. When they scored to make it 17-14 with under a minute to do, I knew it was over.
What was to be a history-making Super Bowl actually was; for the Giants, not the Patriots. David triumphed over Goliath. The underdog won. I thought about calling my friend, but I guess it would’ve been cruel. 42-10 was not meant to be.
I actually enjoyed the game and I cheered just as much as I did when the Cardinals won the World Series two years earlier. Wow, this is a new experience for me! Maybe I’ve found a football team to pull for. Imagine that: a Tennessee boy rooting for a New York team. Go figure.
Shameless plug: My latest book is Hurst’s Wurst: Colonel Fielding Hurst and the Sixth Tennessee Cavalry U.S.A. If you’re interested in the Civil War, it makes a great Valentine’s Day gift! 🙂