Super Bowl XLII: History Derailed
There are big games and there are enormous games.
And then, there was Super Bowl XLII.
To begin, congratulations on the Giants' epic, monumental victory over the New England Patriots. They did something that, admit it, NO ONE thought they'd do, and they did it in brazen, balls-to-the-wall fashion.
They deserve all the kudos in the world, even Super Bowl-MVP Eli Manning, even though saying that combination of words still doesn't feel right. It's like saying the sun is cold or Paris Hilton is a productive member of society.
Justin Tuck, who could have been MVP, and Tom Coughlin also deserve praise, and finally, kudos go to a defense that held the best statistical offense in the NFL history to just seven points going into the fourth quarter.
This was a Giants team that started off 0-2, a team with a laughingstock quarterback, a holdout superstar and a coach that many considered already fired. Now they stand atop the NFL mountain as champions, a flag of blue and white triumphantly planted in the conquered carcass of the once-perfect Patriots.
It's a great story, no doubt. And I'm willing to accept they won. I'm not a fan of either of these teams. I'm a Chargers and Falcons man myself, so I watched this Super Bowl as not a fan of the Patriots or Giants, but as a fan of history. And that's why it gets me so frustrated when I hear people, people who have maybe watched one game of football in their life, say that they rooted for the underdog.
Ignore the fact that that's one of the biggest clichés in sports. Forget the fact that unless you're a legitimate fan of the underdog team, cheering for the underdog is just a win-win situation for the fan with no allegiances. If they win, you get to say you were cheering for them the entire time, and if they lose, you say they weren't supposed to win anyway.
Now, don't get me wrong, there's not much better than a good underdog story.
When the Edmonton Oilers made their Cinderella run to the 2005 Stanley Cup Finals, I learned it first-hand. And there's nothing more satisfying than a dogged, overachieving effort for a team to win, typifying that pervasive philosophy in sports that yes, anything CAN happen.
But I watched this Super Bowl so that I could see something I could tell my kids about. To be able to tell them that I saw sports perfection, an undefeated team, the sort of team that comes almost once-in-a-lifetime. And when they came up against the Giants, I, along with everyone else, assumed this would be a coronation.
For supporters of the underdog: you could've cheered for an underdog in any other game, in any other sport, on any other date. But when you cheered against the Patriots, you were irrationally cheering against history.
I'll never be able to say I saw perfection. I can only say I saw 18-1.
I'm not saying that those who cheered for the Giants didn't deserve it, nor that the Giants didn't. The Patriots' O-line was absolutely overwhelmed by the Giants' aggressive blitzing and their inexperienced, but effective secondary shut down Randy Moss.
New York's pass-rushing delivered constant pressure, headlined by Tuck's MVP performance and by Michael Strahan, the charismatic face of this franchise for 15 years, who deserves this championship more than perhaps anyone.
Belichick was simply out-coached. Fourth-and-13 in field goal range? The vastly-underrated Jeff Feagles punted the Patriots into impossible field position consistently. The Patriots began the game with little energy, their boredom translating to frustration. Eli Manning put together drives that made experts question which brother was behind center, and his improbable toss punctuated by David Tyree's surreal catch is going to define both of their careers and be on highlight reels for decades to come.
The Giants winning was a great story. But everyone who cheered for the Giants for the mere fact they were underdogs, so they could smugly tell everyone that it was great the underdog won, or they went the win-win route and rooted for the David in this battle against Goliath. There was a bigger story here that you could've supported.
You could've cheered for history. You could've cheered for perfection. When you have a chance to cheer for that, why cheer for anything else?
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