There is always great joy about cheering for the underdog for me. I suppose that’s why I hate USC and Ohio State. I suppose that’s why I despise the Patriots in this decade and the Cowboys in the last. I suppose that’s why every time I see Michael Irvin or Troy Aikman on TV I cringe.
So naturally I would be a New York Giant’s fan. They were disgusting to watch in the mid-nineties.
It all started in 1995 when I finally sat down with my dad in front of the couch on a Sunday to watch Big Blue take the field. It was October 8th, week 6. The Giants were 1-4 and the announcers were babbling about just how bad they were, particularly their starting quarterback Dave Brown.
Brown, however, led his team to a win in overtime over the Cardinals. A fan was born.
Dan Reeves liked Dave Brown a lot giving him the starting quarterback job over Kent Graham after the forced “retirement” of Phil Simms. In Brown’s first year he almost led the Giants to the play-offs but in 1995 his deficiencies were illuminated. He did not have a strong or accurate arm. He would do the “truffle shuffle” (cue Goonies reference) in the pocket and usually throw a ball behind his receiver.
Brown, however, was in incapable of wrong in the mind of this 8 year old. Chris Calloway was the only decent receiver and even he wasn’t that good. His offensive line looked like Swiss cheese. Maybe that’s why he became so good at the “truffle shuffle”.
I would ask my dad, “how come all the red (or green, or white, or purple) jerseys always chase our quarterback a lot quicker than ours guys?”
He usually didn’t have an answer besides some expletive that he yelped at our small Sony TV.
The truth is Dave Brown wasn’t that good. The three hours that I first fell in love with him, he played against one of the worst teams in the NFL over the next ten years. But, my misguided love for Dave Brown did have some truth because almost everything about that team was awful.
Brown’s Johnny Damon-like arm didn’t stop me from demanding a number 17 jersey and then sticking those same numbers on my plastic Giants locker (don’t lie you all have them too).
So, on that day in 1995, Dave Brown became my favorite player and the Giants my team.
The next eleven years would be full of heartbreak in the form of the Viking’s 20-point comeback in 1997, or the manhandling in Super Bowl XXXV, and of course the “Terrell Owens Game” in 2002. But in 2008 while in London at 4am on a Monday in February, all of my misguided fandom paid off thanks to one magical moment by number 10, which happens to be the current number on that plastic Giants locker