Super Bowl XLII: The Game That Saved Sports

GAVIN HADDENContributor IMarch 4, 2008

Spygate, roidgate, doggate, whatever the gate may be, sports have been under quite the microscope of late, and for all the wrong reasons.
 
Could it be that Super Bowl XLII saved sports? Is this the game you want to buy on DVD to show your kids over and over? Was this a true tale of “that’s why they play the game?”

 

I firmly believe all signs point to yes.

Let’s look back shall we…

 

WEEK 17: GIANTS VS PATS: Sit ‘em or play ‘em.

With Tom Coughlin’s head on the chopping block, he chooses to play his starters against one of the most impressive teams in pro sports history. He not only lets his boys play, but Coughlin and the vets motivate the Gmen to push the mighty Pats to the brink. They force the NFL Network to simul-cast the game on three competing networks, as what will go down as the day the fans beat the league. This game was decided by two plays, Moss for six, and Eli pick. None the less, Eli became a man on this evening in December.

 Well, “that’s why they play the game.”

 

WILD CARD WEEKEND: GIANTS AT BUCS

Tampa Bay’s defense is too good for shaky Eli to handle. The warm weather and ferocious rush will leave the fairytale Giants licking their wounds and wishing Tiki was still in the backfield.

This game can best be described in one line: Best dressed Amani Toomer has gotten his groove back.

Well, “that’s why they play the game.”

 

DIVISIONAL PLAYOFFS: GIANTS AT DALLAS

Tony Romo and the big Dallas D are bringing back America’s team.

Eli will stumble and Romo will flourish. Giants secondary cannot handle T.O. and the high powered Boy’s O. Well, the only thing that nauseating Troy Aikman didn’t mention, and what may have been the most revealing and critical part about this game, is that in the second quarter it took the Cowboys 20 plays and nearly 11 minutes to score a touchdown.

On a drive that Aikman and Joe Buck drooled over, they failed to mention the fact that the Giants got to look at the entire Cowboys' playbook, and did it right before the half.

They saw exactly what they would call on 2nd and short, as well as 3rd and long. During this drive, the Giants put all their collective offensive heads together and created a series of plays that would lead them to the same result of the Cowboys' 11 minute drive: 7 PTS.

Proving that Eli became a man, in the huddle before their 47 second drive to change the landscape of the Divisional Playoff, Eli gets in the huddle and with confidence tells his O, “We are going to get six.”

It would be one thing if he just said it, but he actually did it.

A swarming D in the 2nd half put more heat on Romo than he got on his first date with Jessica.

 And, well, “that’s why they play the game.”

 

NFC CHAMPIONSHIP: GIANTS AT PACKERS

Frozen Lambeau, Brett Favre in the playoffs, it is his year. There is no way the Giants can handle the YAC of Green Bay’s receivers. Eli doesn’t play well in cold weather, never mind 25 below.

After a first half of flawless Eli ball and a running game that sent chills down the already frozen spines of the Packer’s D, the Giants found themselves in control of the biggest game of their last 20 yrs.

Wide left, wide left, and a lost toss.

I know all Giants fans had already begun rehearsing the, “we had a great season either way,” line in their head, when much maligned Corey Webster stepped in front of the great one, Favre’s pass, in overtime giving Laurence Tynes a chance to resurrect his career and keep his children from being home schooled.

If you told me that Brett Favre would have the ball at Lambeau Field, in the NFC Championship game, down by three with the temperature diving towards state of emergency status, with the Super Bowl on the line, I would have bet my house and unborn child’s life that he would come through setting up a Brady-Favre showdown for history.

Well, “that’s why they play the game.”

 

SUPER BOWL XLII: GIANTS VS PATRIOTS

New England at 18-0 and 12 point favorites will have the game wrapped up by halftime, maybe even the 2nd quarter. Belicheat is too smart, Brady too good, and history is inevitable.

To kick off the 1st quarter, Eli drives the lowly Giants straight down the field, mixing passes and runs as casually as Johnny U. They settle for three, but put a stamp on this game that will never be erased. Over the next 4 quarters Tom Brady found himself on his back looking up at the University of Phoenix roof 23 times.

Hit after hit, followed by a blurring secondary of coverage, Mr. Brady was the one who needed flowers, not Gisele.

While the Giants D made Belicheat pout like a spoiled 10-year-old who was just told he has to eat the crust on his grilled cheese, Easy Eli and his band of brothers systematically moved the ball up and down the field.

Every single Giant played a role in this victory.

From Toomer’s tight rope balancing act in the 2nd quarter, to Ahmad Bradshaw’s crucial 3rd down scampers, to Kevin Boss’ 45 yard welcome to the NFL catch. These Giants played like a team while Hollywood Brady and cocky Belicheat were trying to remember what it was that made them so successful in the past.

So again, from Brandon Jacobs on 4th and one, to Tyree’s TD to, “THE CATCH”, to a perfectly read and delivered six from Eli to Burress, we saw a team play like a team. Alford scissoring Brady like a car hitting a telephone pole at 85 mph perfectly sealed the unlikely victory.

Giants World Champs, ‘72 Dolphins popping their bubbly while Mercury Morris folds up his lawn chair and puts away the welcome neighbor sign. Eli Manning MVP.

Well, “that’s why they play the game.”

This game epitomized everything that is right about sports.

The Giants' victory makes a better story than if the Pats went 19-0. The sports world gained the moderate fan for life and added a few that never would have thought of turning on the game until they saw Easy Eli lead his brothers to the cave and slay the evil dragon.

Sports are the only reality TV we really have.

It is unscripted and uncontrollable. Sometimes the victor can be called and sometimes things go as planned. But when they don’t, and when all that is supposed to happen doesn’t, when you have a troubled coach, a media tortured QB, and a fan base screaming for a chance to cheer, then you have the perfect formula for an upset.

An upset for the ages. Quite possibly the greatest game in sports history. A game that had a day after of everyone from the secretary to the house mom to the bus driver to the CEO saying, “What a game!”

This is why we play sports, this is why we watch sports, and this is why we feel that on any given day we can be heroes.

Well, it can be most simply put, “That’s why they play the game.”

That’s why we wake up every morning.

Because each day we have a chance at redemption like Eli and Coughlin or getting our dues like Toomer and Strahan, or simply going from average to great like Tyree. It teaches us that the only destiny that is for sure is the destiny that we control. It is pretty impressive when the biggest day in sports, on the biggest stage in sports, produces the best moment in sports.

So go buy the DVD, TiVo the NFL Film's greatest games special and sit down with your kid and show them that even the most unlikely of things can happen when you believe and take history into your own hands.

We all knew history was going to be made on Super Sunday, we just didn’t expect it to be by the Giants.