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Super Bowl Thoughts and THE XLII PICK

I rarely moan and groan, and when I choose to do so it is always about one thing. Access. Or my general lack thereof. Regrettably, being founder, editor, and sole writer of Ballgamespoints.com doesn’t qualify me for access to Super Bowl Week. There were approximately 5,000 media credentials issued for Media Day XLII, going to everyone ranging from a 9-year-old kid probably skipping a test on the times-tables to a striking Mexican TV reporter sporting a wedding gown and using the platform to propose to Tom Brady. And every other conceivable character in between. Nothing for me though. Bollocks. So here I am again, digesting the buildup to the big game from my cove in Brooklyn. But don’t stop reading; I’m not about to unleash a thousand fuming words illustrating my displeasure. I’ll spare you the tirade awash in vitriol and sulk. Just know it’s in there, festering. That makes me feel better.

What I will use this column as is a way of figuring out what exactly I’m going to do for the game, which I haven’t yet decided. The field has been narrowed to two choices. I can either A) go to Boston, watch the Pats with my Boston friends on a 62-incher, and pour into the streets of Beantown after the rebirth of a dynasty, or B) go to Staten Island, watch the game on a TV of comparable girth with my New York crew, and run the risk of being maimed. True, the answer seems obvious enough, but don’t jump to premature conclusions. There are pros and cons that go with each scenario.

Boston first. No doubt, being in Boston for a championship is wicked awesome. I was there for the Patriots’ second Super Bowl triumph. The venue was my buddy’s apartment at BU. After Vinatieri kicked the game-winner, we joined a couple thousand BU kids in a march down Comm Ave toward Kenmore Square, the de facto centre of celebration post-Boston championships. When we got there we were met by tens of thousands more, who we joined forces with to turn the gateway of Fenway into a massive rave of champions. Small fires produced pockets of primitive light, surrounded by boozed-up Bostonians and college kids. Lamp posts were climbed and conquered by the boldest; these revelers relished their moment above the masses by firing up cigars and belting out unintelligible cries of victory. Chants of “Let’s Go Red Sox” echoed from North Station to Copley Square. But the real party raged in the shadows of the edifice that had left Boston feeling hollow every autumn for 86 years. With the Red Sox (at the time…) continuing to tear the hearts out of their faithful, watching the Patriots had become a therapeutic practice for all us starving New England sports fans. They helped us channel our passion and anguish. In the almost-four months subsequent to the Grady Little-Pedro-Game 7 debacle, the Patriots didn’t lose once. Hence the culmination in Kenmore.

So how can I possibly find a “con” in that scenario? For better or worse, the sports fervor in Boston undoubtedly boils over when a team wins a title. And the night I’m referencing pretty much started that trend. By the time the waves of SWAT personnel occupied the bridge over the Massachusetts Turnpike (which separates Fenway from Kenmore), it was clear that dispersing the masses of people in the square, all full of bravado and cheap beer, would be a challenge. The cops, clad in their riot control gear, stood at attention. The masses continued to taunt the law until our collective sinuses informed us that a huge cloud of pepper spray (or some irritant of the kind) was hanging overhead. Then the SWAT line started its advance. Move or be moved. Most moved. Some were moved. I woke up the next day feeling exhilarated and relieved. Exhilarated that my Patriots were again world champs; relieved that I wasn’t one of the few hundred to spend a bruised-up night in the clink. Wild times. Times that I relived the next year when the Sox finally won the World Series. So you see? I’ve been there, done that, and at the time had that cloak of invincibility better known as college student-status.

Now I’m knee deep in the “real world”, attempting to make it in the field of sportswriting. And I’ll tell you something. The only thing better than having been in Boston for those two defining moments was being in New York for the 2004 ALCS (Games 4-7 that is). I gained an immense amount of perspective into the psyches of the sports fans in this city, because for once, they revealed something other than obtuse superiority (yes, I’m speaking to you, Yankee fans). Even better is the fact that with multiple teams in each sport, cross-sport affiliations aren’t set in stone. I have one buddy who is a Yankees/Giants fan; another who supports the Mets/Jets combo; another yet who bleeds Mets and Giants; and rounding out the bunch, one guy who has undying love for the Yankees and whichever team Michael Vick will be on come Madden 2010. An eccentric bunch, these New Yorkers.

Which brings us full circle, back to “Super Bowl Scenario B”. All of the previously mentioned characters will be at Cotter’s (aka Mr. Mets/Giants) domicile on Staten Island, where a fully stocked bar and an assortment of Chinese appetizers are promised. Not to mention a sporting experience that will clearly shape the near future. If the Giants win, I will never, ever, ehhhhhhhhver hear the end of it, so I might as well be there for the beginning. And if the Patriots win, after dusting off the shards from the plate glass window I get jettisoned through, I’ll have to find a way to exit good ole S.I. without incurring further damage. Either way, it’s a story waiting to be written. And while the story of taking in a title in Boston will never get old, I’ve already lived it twice, and have just written about it. So I think the debate is resolved. For XLII, it will be the Island of Staten. As for the game itself…

THE XLII PICK

For the record, I’m 7-3 this postseason. More importantly, I’m 4-1 in games which involved the Patriots and Giants, with my first “L” coming after I picked Green Bay in the NFC Championship. (As for that someone who’s 5-0, please make yourself known; I’ll give you your own paragraph.) Because I live in New York and love the Patriots, I can count on one hand the number of combined Giants/Patriots games I’ve missed this year. Which is to say I know these teams, know them better than any two teams in the NFL. I will allow that before Week 17 I made a gross misstep in my assertion that Tom Coughlin would be crazy to risk injury to his starters by playing them against the Patriots in a meaningless game. While they did lose three key guys in the loss, that game unequivocally lifted the team to a higher place, beginning first and foremost with Eli Manning. There is simply no other way to explain and/or justify winning three road games and dethroning three NFC division champions in the playoffs. That is the G-Men’s claim to fame summed up. They almost beat the Patriots, used the loss as a watershed moment in which potential was realized, and have steamrolled the competition ever since. They are prepared, focused and confident. They have walked the walk.

Unfortunately for the Giants, in Super Bowl XLII they will not be facing the 2006 Colts or the 2003 Patriots or even the 2000 Ravens (who dismantled the last Giants outfit to make the Super Bowl). Those are three of the great championship teams of the last decade. Three title-winning teams that may have seen their own destinies altered if they ran into these ’07 Giants. No, they’re not playing one of those teams. They’re playing the 2007 Patriots, the first group of professional football players to sit at 18-0; the first squad to be both undefeated and slighted; the only team that could claim to be on a mission that trumps the mission of these G-Men. In its NFL standings section this year, the New York Post stuck an asterisk next to the Patriots name every week, which correlated to a phrase at the bottom of the page: caught cheating. The Patriots are determined to maintain that asterisk forever, except with a different phrase to interpret it: only 19-0 team in football history. Damned if the Colts, Eagles, Ravens, Jaguars or Chargers were going to thwart them. Same for the Giants a month ago. Like those before and after them, the Giants smelled blood, Patriots blood, but couldn’t seal the deal.

There’s only one way the Giants can hope to put themselves back in that position: get to Brady. Get to him early and often. Get to him in the huddle, before the snap, after the whistle. Get to him in his sleep Saturday night. If the Giants want to stand a chance, they better understand that anything short of a total incursion on Tom Brady will lead to their downfall. But let’s face it. That won’t happen. The Patriots have come too far. They’ve had a vendetta to settle since their collapse in the AFC Championship last year in Indy, since Eric Mangini blew the whistle on CameraGate in Week 2. Each victory has gotten tougher, but so too has their resolve. When other teams have sniffed blood, the Patriots have sniffed immortality, yet refused to let it faze or distract them. They are out to prove Mangini is a traitorous rat. They are itching to huff and puff and blow down the neighborhood of Mercury Morris and the rest of those loony ’72 Dolphins. They have played 18 one-game seasons to get here. Football may be a business, but winning football games has become the business of the New England Patriots. That job ends Sunday night.

Patriots 30 Giants 24

5 Comments Post a comment
  1. el rif #

    the super bowl is going to be played on relatively clear conditions, on a fast track. no cold, no wind. hence this will be patriots weather. the kind of weather where the pats dominated the nfl for the first 9 weeks of the season.
    –> Patriots 34, Giants 24

    February 1, 2008
  2. tommy menino #

    tha city of bahston has 3 bowls of steaming hot chowdah and a coupla maine lobstahs riding on your predictions ballgame.

    February 1, 2008
  3. el rif's brother #

    Pats 34, Giants 13

    February 1, 2008
  4. el rif's brother #

    Patriots 34, Giants 13
    The Pats will force Eli to win the game himself by stopping the running game. Eli will go back to Eli of weeks 1-15. The O-line will protect Brady like they have been doing all year and he will find an open Randy Moss for big gains. You can’t hold Randy down for that long without him finally breaking loose. The Dynasty continues.

    February 1, 2008
  5. ty #

    this victory is like how that kid on video clip entitled “mission impossible” via youporn.com must have felt when he finished.
    thanks for that by the way.

    great game, but gmen = champs
    thats the only record that matters now.

    February 4, 2008

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