In America, we like to think that Christmas and Thanksgiving are our biggest holidays. They aren’t. For us, the Super Bowl is our high holy day, and that holy day is this Sunday. At the end of this week, life as we know it in America will collectively shut down as we turn our eyes toward a game that almost none of us have any personal interest in but we watch because everyone else is watching and the commercials look expensive. And then at some point some football is played and we all get to re-learn our roman numerals before we quickly forget them again.
This year we have the New England Patriots taking on the New York Giants – two teams that no one other than their respective fans thinks actually deserve to be playing in the Super Bowl. The game will be a rematch of sorts, as the Pats and the Giants faced-off in Super Bowl XLII in 2008, with the Giants pulling out a spectacular down-to-the-wire victory.
In the lead up to the Big Game, I’m going to be chronicling the journeys the Pats and the Giants have taken to reach this point.
Today, we begin with the New York Giants.
The quarterback is the leader of the team. He’s the general. On the field, the quarterback should be god; he should exude a confidence so potent that all fear the wrath he will hath wrought after he has wrought the wrath. When you look in to a quarterback’s eyes as he squares his hips and scans the defensive alignment, searching for weaknesses, everyone watching should be filled with the ominous sense that nothing they do will be able to stop this man from achieving greatness.
Eli Manning looks like he knows he’s about to be killed by everyone. When he plants his feet and calls his signals, he has the same look on his face as a child that just threw up and is being told to take the stage and deliver his lines during the school play. He looks like he’s worried about soiling his protective girdle when he gets hit. His eyes have that look that suggests he’s currently giving some series consideration to calling his mom and telling her that the big boys are picking on him and knocking him on the ground.
To say that Eli Manning exudes confidence is to say that I was raised by unicorns and, as a result, I have four magical penises and when I orgasm that’s your cue to close your eyes and make a wish, for it may come true!
The Giant’s season began well enough, as they won 4 of their first 6 games, leading up to their bye week. At this point, everyone thought the Giants were a shoe in for Super Bowl contention and Eli’s name was once again brought up in discussions about the NFL’s elite quarterbacks, even though putting his name alongside the likes of Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers even now sounds very similar to saying this: “Salami, brie, prosciutto, ciabatta bread, Lunchables snack pack.”
And then week 10 happened, which coincidentally, was followed by weeks 11, 12, and 13 — four losses in a row. In the first half of the season the Giants were the kid on the playground that isn’t showy or loud, but is quietly better than everyone…but then he sneezes and a giant snot bubble pulsates out of his nose with every whimpering breath. Everyone looks away because it’s just way too painful to watch someone you thought was cool reveal themselves as a snot bubble enthusiast. It was a real “Christ, man! Have some dignity! Pull up your pants, you’re embarrassing us!” kind of moment.
Yet somehow, the Giants are in the Super Bowl. Sure, you can argue that Eli’s arm got them there. You can even argue that head coach Tom Coughlin finally took control of the team and whipped them in to championship shape. But you’d be wrong on both counts. It was because of Victor Cruz.
Victor Cruz is a Giant’s wide-receiver that wouldn’t be able to catch a ball thrown at him from 5 feet away by an asthmatic child, but if you launch that same ball 40 yards, tell him to wait three seconds and then run after it with two defenders on him, he’ll catch it like there was never going to be any other outcome. Victor Cruz is like far-sightedness – logically, it doesn’t make sense. How can I see shit that’s way over there, but I can’t see shit that’s right f*cking here.
Cruz became well known in the 2011-2012 season for performing a little celebratory salsa dance after every touchdown catch, which ultimately will act as great advertizing for the salsa lessons he’ll have to give after he he retires at the age most young people are just starting their lives.
After their horrific four-game stretch, the Giants regained composure and asked a gypsy to curse their upcoming opponents. The gypsy agreed, but only if coach Coughlin agreed to continue looking like a mannequin’s head that’s been laminated. Coach Coughlin agreed, the Giants’ opponents were cursed, and they’ve won their last five games played, the most recent being their victory over the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC championship game.
Depending on which chunk of the 2011-2012 season you look at, the Giants we either a foregone conclusion for Super Bowl contention or you were planning on hiring them to entertain children at your son’s NFL-themed bar mitzvah, thinking they’d have a lots of free time this post season.
The Giants now face the New England Patriots, a team they narrowly defeated earlier in the season. The Patriots aren’t the team they used to be, but they’re still a threat, especially offensively. Luckily for the Giants, Tom Coughlin’s head is still shiny and plastic-y, so maybe the gypsy hasn’t yet pulled one of those “I got you here, but now you must win all on your own!” moments. If so, they’re screwed.