Super Bowl: Living among giants: confessions of a New England turncoat

When I was a kid the Pats were hardly the dynasty they are today, in fact they didn't even have their own stadium.

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February 5, 2008 05:15
3 minute read.

 
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I keep having to explain to people why I, a New England-bred diehard Red Sox fan and Boston sports fan in general, vociferously rooted for the New York Giants to win Sunday night's Super Bowl against hometown favorites The New England Patriots. When I was a kid the Pats were hardly the dynasty they are today, in fact they didn't even have their own stadium, traveling like vagabonds to play in Fenway Park, or in Boston College's field. Because they rarely sold out their home games, the TV broadcasts were often blacked out in New England. And what did they show us instead? The Giants and their colorful passing/receiving combo of Fran Tarkenton and Homer Jones. I was quickly hooked, as something about the Giants' character was much more Boston than New York. You could never rest easy thinking they had won a game, because they could always come up with a novel way to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. But like staunch Red Sox fans, Giants fans learned to suffer along with the team. The Pats, on the other hand, were never even good enough to warrant sitting on edge during their games. However, their turnaround in the Tom Brady era has transformed them into something that Boston sport hasn't witnessed since the 60s heyday of the Celtics and the Bruins - a dynasty, perhaps the greatest one in football history. It just doesn't sit well with the underdog New England sports mentality. Sunday's Super Bowl was a classic sporting event, one of the few NFL finals that truly lived up to its billing. For my money, number 42 was the most exciting ever, and not just because the Giants won. It simply had all the right elements for real drama. You had a perfect football team, and I mean perfect. Besides the little fact that they had no losses and were on the verge of becoming only the second team in NFL history to go through a season undefeated, they had Mr. Brady and his perfect passing, his perfect face and his perfect girlfriend. The Pats ran up scores all year, although later in the season some of the varnish began to wear off and they seemed almost mortal. The Giants, on the other hand, weren't even supposed to be there. A lackluster regular season left quarterback Eli Manning as a whipping post for disgruntled fans, and they made it into the playoffs by a thread. Since then, it was one astounding upset after another, culminating in Sunday's matchup - the scrappy underdogs against the undefeated gods. And once again, the Giants defied all odds, making an honest man out of receiver Plaxico Burress, who earlier in the week tempted fate by predicting a 23-17 Giants victory. But like all Giants games, it was heart in mouth the whole time. It was only a matter of time, I thought, until the Patriots' offensive juggernaut fell into place and they began trampling the heroic but battered Giants defense. But it didn't happen! And on the Giants' final scoring drive, with Manning's game-saving alley oop pass to David Tyree, and TD pass to Burress, there was suddenly a sense of disbelief turning into reality - the Giants were going to win! Still, I'm sure I wasn't the only Giants fan who was filled with dread as the Pats took possession with 25 seconds left in the game and three timeouts remaining. It seemed like an eternity, enabling the Brady bunch to march into field goal territory, which would tie up the game, which would send it into overtime, and would? Oh my. Luckily, my heart didn't have to withstand that scenario as the Giants' defense, which had spent most of the game sitting on Brady's lap, rose to the occasion one last time. That the Giants could sneak into the playoffs, find ways to beat the best of the NFL, and eventually topple the big Goliath Patriots was as improbable as the Red Sox winning two out of the last four World Series. And just as delicious.

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