As a recently- graduated college philosophy minor, I have spent ample amounts of time studying different ways to analyze the world. While many would argue that I had selected a poor minor for someone who wishes to pursue a career in sports journalism, I would beg to differ.
Therefore, in order to demonstrate how philosophical teachings can apply to the sports world, I will now assess the New York Giants’ offense in relation to several key existentialist principles, in hopes of gaining a greater insight into the potential of the attacking side of the ball for the G-Men.
Principle One: There is no future and no fate. Absolutely nothing exists other than your conscious present. Existence precedes essence.
According to this basic existentialist principle, you only exist in the very second of time that you are currently in. Contrary to more theological or wishfully optimistic beliefs, there are no good luck charms, and no one is controlling what will happen next for you other than you.
So, how does this apply to the New York Giants?
Simply stated, the New York Giants are a team that needs to play in the present. Due to the Giant’s lack of depth at the wide receiver position this year, many fans and analysts alike are left saying that the Giants will have better chances in a year or two once their new young receivers develop.
However, in order to be successful in 2009, the Giants’ offense must not take that approach. Even in spite of their overall inexperience, Eli Manning, Brandon Jacobs, and even Hakeem Nicks must remember that only they have the power to control their own destiny. If they want it bad enough, that destiny may be a Super Bowl victory in 2009.
Principle Two: Doubt everything that you can doubt. In the end, the only things in life that you can’t doubt are real.
This somewhat pessimistic principle of existentialist philosophy comes from the great Descartes’ meditations. In his theory, Descartes states that one should approach the world doubting everything that they cannot determine without absolutely certainty.
After doing that, only the few things that absolutely cannot be doubted are the only things you should believe.
So, what can we doubt about the New York Giants’ offense in 2009? We can doubt Eli Manning’s ability to play at a pro bowl level without a true number one receiver, as Eli struggled at the end of last season without the assistance of Plaxico Burress.
Furthermore, we can doubt the productivity of a wide receiving core that is centered on a natural slot receiver in Steve Smith and two unproven rookies in Hakeem Nicks and Ramses Barden.
Ok, so what can we not doubt?
The only things that we cannot doubt about the Giants’ offense are that the offensive line are going to maul up opposing defensive lines, and Brandon Jacobs will trample over defenders throughout the season.
Therefore, according to basic existentialist philosophy, these are the only truths which we may state in speculation of what will take place for the Giants in 2009. Any other claims about the G-Men offense, regardless of how well researched or thought out they are, are simply arbitrary claims that hold no more validity than the flip of a coin.
Principle Three: You only become self-aware when you encounter another.
This existentialist principle may be the most important to the New York Giants’ offense in terms of assessing their true chances for success. According to basic existentialism, a human mind can only become aware of its self when it encounters another human mind. So, why does this principle apply to the Giants’ offense?
It applies because, once the season begins, the G-Men will have to come face to face with the Philadelphia Eagles, Dallas Cowboys, and Washington Redskins in what should come out to be the toughest division in the National Football League.
It is not until the Giants’ young receivers step onto the gridiron and look at the likes of DeMarcus Ware and Albert Haynesworth face to face that they can become aware of just what they will be capable of in 2009.
If Hakeem Nicks sees his opposition in his first NFL game and becomes aware that he is fearful or not ready, the Giants’ offense will be bound for disappointment. However, if Eli Manning can league his young offense and allow them to step on the field with confidence and sureness of their ability, the big blue offense will be ready to do big things in 2009.
So, what can we take away from this general existentialist assessment of the New York Giants’ offense? Well, through the incorporation of these three existentialist principles into our examination of the team, we can formulate more realistic and intellectually valid expectations for the team in the upcoming season.
While existentialism will not assist us in making any bold predictions about the team’s future success or lack thereof, it does allow us to cross out and disregard many of the unfounded and often biased claims that general fans of any given team tend to make.
For example, would it really be fair to predict that Hakeem Nicks will have a pro bowl season before he even steps a foot onto the gridiron and faces an actual NFL team? Yea, I didn’t think so.
So, it may not be the most conventional method by which to analyze an NFL offense, but it works. After all, who needs John Madden when you can have Socrates?