Update, 8:26 a.m. ET, 12/31: Nobody can really ever understand someone else’s passion unless it is theirs. We all have, need, and want diversions from everyday life and strife and this is one of mine. It has consistently annoyed people in my life for as long as it has been in my life -Forty-one years and counting now. To me, that is just a shame and it must be noted that, it will always be a part of me -psychologically – mentally – emotionally – and it is fun, unpredictable, horrible at times,( in loss) deep, joyous,(in victory) rebellious, strategically playful and it is the root of many conversations, memories, friends and more friends to come. So if anyone gets in the way of this “part of me” I would feel very sorry for you.
These are the dark times, the times that every fan knows they will always have to live through. As in “What goes up, must come down.” Like everything in life, you cannot be fooled by success, darkness lurks around every corner. This is perhaps nothing, I think, compared to the 1970’s and early eighties. With 4-10, 2-12, 6-10 seasons hitting you year after year, you become seasoned for disappoint.
When you are a ten year old boy that doesn’t understand how his heroes could fail him, then the tears that follow could only be the tip of the iceburg, the the said “berg” being ENDLESS bad calls, ENDLESS bad draft picks, ENDLESS horrible coaching, ENDLESS key injuries, ENDLESS doubt, lost pride, horrible play calling and ENDLESS head shaking at what might of been, what could have been and all too familiar “WAIT ‘TILL NEXT YEAR!”
Update, 1140 a.m. ET, 12/31 Nicks might not play due to a broken toe and that is key. He has been nothing short of sensational this year. The game has been moved back to a 4:00 PM start and the Bear vs Packer game is also for 4 PM. So it will be an ongoing scoreboard watching, field watching nerve-wracking adventure. This is much better than having the games start at separate times, I think, let’s just get it all over with at once.
It’s been so long since I’ve attended an away game, I can’t even remember but it was certainly in the BC era (Before Children) and the celebratory Not Married years of gambling, drinking and footballizing.
The drive begins Saturday afternoon. 229 miles. Overcast and drizzle we churn through the tolls, bridges and traffic. Over the Chesapeak Bay and past Bailtimore where we get a glimpse of The Ravens homefield where they will be playing on Sunday also.
The more I think about it, the more it realistic it can be; Giants win and Bears win. Simple? No. The problem is the Bears have absolutely nothing to play for.
Past Baltimore and into Maryland. We are now approaching enemy territory.
Update, 8:00 pm. ET, 1/1/2011: Where did this season go? 2011?? Where did this year go? Seems like yesterday I was on top of a snowpile with my airbags deployed sitting in my totaled car with my two boys. That was Christmas 2010. Then it was Spring. Then Summer was gone and now it another year. We are driving around the area after checking into the Holiday Inn. The rain intensifies and I wonder how we will stay dry at the game tomorrow if it doesn’t stop. I always thought bad weather was good for the Giants. Running game and defense is their ( apparently ) strengths. But all that goes out the window when you lead the league in turnovers.
Update, 2:30 p.m. ET, 1/2/2011: We just lost another option a “backdoor” into the playoffs. After a steak dinner, a college bowl game on Tv and a good nights sleep we watch the Saints get upset by the Bucaneers at New Orleans (a huge upset) and something FINALLY goes right for the Giants. BUT unfortunately we also need Carolina (probably the worse team in the NFC) to beat Atlanta (arguably the BEST team in the NFC. This didn’t even come close to happening. The Panthers lost 31-10.
So now as we prepare to head up to the stadium it is up to the Giants and Bears to win today. If that happens we “sneak” into the playoffs as the last seed.
Update, 2:30 p.m. ET, 1/2/2011: It is Harry, Joe and George hobbling behind them. Still raining. A little chilly. We are deep in enemy territory now except for Joe we are wearing our Giant blue. There seem to tons of Giants fans here but the burgandy and gold by far out numbers the visiting team Giants. Surprisingly there is no booing or taunting as we walk through the crowd. The Redskins season was miserable and ended a long time ago. It has been years since they made the playoffs. Every year a new hope a new hero (this year Donathan McNabb) and always a great start and then a big letdown.
We finally get to our seats and it just knocks me over. We are almost what seems to be (for me anyway) at field level and we are on the 50 yard line right behind the Giant bench! After sitting in the upper section for 35 plus years this a real treat.
Update, 4:15 p.m. ET, 1/2/2011: At game time it is still raining but we are covered by the second tier! I had to look at the face value of these tickets because I couldn’t believe how good they were. $99. Shit I’ll take that any day. These are probably $700. tickets in New York.
It’s a strange feeling to watch your team take the field in their away “whites” and have the people all around you booing and hissing. But in my new lower seats, the field looked smaller, the players looked bigger and things were more laid back here in Washington. You could “move around” the stadium without any real hassles from the ushers or security.
I never really felt the Giants would lose. They didn’t dominate but they were in control. In my many never forgotten memories of games and single plays, I witnessed one today. Right before my eyes, right in front of us and the Giants bench…..Manning to Manningham 92 yard catch and run. The longest of Eli’s career. In his seven years as Giants QB…he was NEVER known as the long ball guy so this was really sweet.
Four turnovers, two by Osi under a darkened moody sky kept things under control.
The game was on the field but the other game and perhaps the real game was being played in Chicago at the same time. “We” needed the Packers to lose or tie. The scoreboard was constantly flashing scores but for the odd reason that we could only understand, they did not show the Bears-Packers score.
Update, 6:01 p.m. ET, 1/2/2011: My cousin Jim Gill in Ohio finally broke the tension with a Bears 7-0 and they just had a goal line stand text message. We were in the right place. Both of the teams we needed to win were winning, if just barely but they were winning. But these were very seasoned football men here. In the NFL it is NEVER OVER until the final tick tocks.
They weren’t showing the score on purpose and it was because the Bears were giving it a good fight. It was very late into both games and … oh shit, wait a minuet, “Tie game in Chicago” So NOW they put up the score. And the crowd cheers. They even show the touchdown on the huge screens on both ends of the stadium to eveyones delight.
Here’s what I thought about FeDEx Field: It looked alot older than I thought it was, kinda rusty and cracked but it is after all over ten years old already. The fans were strong and loud and to me that was impressive considering that this was the last game of a VERY DISMAL and disappointing season. A season that had very high hopes with a new, previous successful head coach. The fans around us were really into the game, young and old and I love to see that kind of passion. The cheerleaders were amazing and then there is the world famous Redskins band. A real tradition and presence in the stadium. The Redskins theme song played after their two touchdowns really added to the celebration and EVERYONE knew the words and EVERYONE got up to sing them. Not only that but a couple of guys came out running with these really huge Redskin flags and ran all over the field. Compared to what the Giants do (NOTHING) this was pretty cool in my eyes. What’s wrong with a couple of bells and whistles at a football game? When the Giants score they play that really fucking stupid same song over and over-BIG FUCKING DEAL-“I’m back in the New York Blue” I don’t even know who sings it NOR DO I FUCKING CARE.
The bottom line is this, the two owners of the Giants, Mara and Tisch, disagree on the bells and whistles thing. Mara is an old school guy like his dad while Tisch is more on the line of putting some celeberties on the sidelines, some cheerleaders and who knows what else.
My thoughts: I WANT A BAND AND CHEERLEADERS!
And the funny thing is, I used to be proud that the Giants put more emphasis on the game then on the sideline activity.
The wise old men of the NFL
Update, 705 p.m. ET, 1/2/11
FINAL: GIANTS 17 Redskins14
But even before this, the big boards showed the game ending interception by the Packers to seal the Giants fate. We won, but we lost. We won but the Redskin fans let us know with chants and jeering that our season had ended today. I wasn’t hit too hard by this. It was a strange season. It was a disappointing season because at one time, after the Atlanta game, the media called us (once again) “The best team in the NFL” (always a curse) It seems to me, that much like the prized Super Bowl season only a few years ago, this team thrives on being the underdog. It thrives on flying in under the radar, the team that nobody cares about nor expects to win.
To add insult to injury, on my way out of the stadium I got distracted by a fight. A fight between two girls, both Redskin fans, of all things and as I was making a movie of it with my camera (YouTube “viral” dreams spinning in my head) another fan, a very drunk fan, and a young Giants fan, of all things, viscously bumped into me and I dropped my camera and it splattered on the concrete. It wasn’t worth screaming or getting angry. I actually hated that camera. I wanted to take a photograph of it lying on the cold concrete…broken and sad….but I couldn’t, my camera was broken.