At first glance the New York Football Giants share very little with the fictional team in Dillon, Texas. However, after rewatching the first season this past week, it dawned on me that this year's Giants team is shockingly similar to the Dillon Panthers/Lions. Allow me to recast Friday Night Lights with the players on the Giants:
Eli Manning as Matt Saracen
The goofy facial expressions, the "aw shucks" expressions, the easy-going personality, Matt Saracen is Eli Manning! Eli Manning is Matt Saracen! Both have led their team to a championship when everyone has counted them out. Both have married their school sweethearts. Eli met Abbey at Ole Miss while Matt met Julie Taylor at Dillon High. In a perfect world Eli would have married Coach Coughlin's daughter, but we'll deal with that later.
Tom Coughlin as Coach Taylor
If there's ever been a coach who has been fired in the public eye more than Coach Coughlin, it's Coach Eric Taylor. Year after year the people of Dillon/New York have called for the team to fire their head coach and year after year their coach proves the doubters wrong. Both coaches have been known to give a rousing pregame speech or two and demand nothing less than 100% from their players. They might not win each year, but they manage to get the very best out of their players especially when facing the firing squad of the media and the fans.
Tom Coughlin's daughter as Julie Taylor
I honestly didn't even know Coughlin's daughter's name (it's Kate). All I know is she is married to Chris Snee, a guard for the Giants, and is a perfect fit for this analogy! They met in school just like Julie and Matt! Even though Snee isn't the quarterback he has the important task of blocking monsters like the Patriots defensive tackle Vince Wilfork from getting to the Manning. In that regard he's a very important member of the Giants and been selected to three Pro Bowls.
Laurence Tynes as Laundry Clarke
As a Giants fan I can honestly say I hated Tynes earlier in the year. I even emailed my friends that I have no faith in him making a game-winning kick going into San Francisco two Sundays ago. And then he kicks the Giants into the Super Bowl for the second time in four years! I was dead wrong about Tynes, much like I was dead wrong about hating Landry after he killed a drunk in Season 2. Landry bounced back from that second season weirdness to be one of my favorite Friday Night Lights characters, much like Tynes is creeping up my list of favorite Giants. Although, I doubt I'll ever like him more than Steve Weatherford.
Osi Umenyiora as Tim Riggins
Okay, so Osi doesn't look as good as Riggins with his shirt off, but Osi summoned the spirit of Tim Riggins in training camp this year. He had a contract dispute with the Giants and demanded a trade, but it never happened. Riggins was a womanizer and a a borderline alcoholic. He frequently missed practice and was at odds with Coach Taylor, but as time went on he got on board with the team spirit and helped his team to a championship. The only other parallel between Osi and Riggins is that Osi used to date a Victoria Secret model, according to his Wikipedia page. Much like Riggins, the future of Uminyeru and the Giants is uncertain.
Michael Strahan as Billy Riggins
Strahan is a Giants future Hall of Famer and loves to remind anyone he's in contact with that he loves the Giants organization and won a Super Bowl with them. He frequently wears his Super Bowl ring on the Fox pregame show. Billy loves to remind his brother of his Panthers championship memories and wears his ring to prove it. Hopefully Strahan won't set up a chop shop anytime in the near future.
Ann Mara as Tammi Taylor
When it comes to strong minded and passionate women it's hard to find anyone tougher than Tammi or Ann Mara, the mother of the Giants owner John Mara. Just take a look at her pick a fight with Terry Bradshaw in the Giants locker room after their dramatic win over the 49ers! She's as feisty as they come and will be in attendance in Indy for the Super Bowl even after she broke her shoulder in church last week. Mrs. Mara is a gamer!
Jason Pierre-Paul as Vince Howard
Vince came out of nowhere to save the East Dillon Lions just like JPP has saved the Giants from the brink of elimination. The Giants took JPP in the first round of the 2010 draft. There was a lot of speculation surrounding him because he didn't start playing football until his junior year in college. Vince didn't play football until he joined the East Dillon Lions in season four and few believed he was capable of leading his team to victory. Yet, he did just that in the season 5 finale.
Mike Francesa as Buddy Garrity
Buddy has a radio show in the later seasons of FNL and is constantly taking jabs at the cross town rival Panthers just like Francesa does with the New York Jets on WFAN. Francesa has everyone from Coach Coughlin to the owner of the Giants on his show much like Buddy has Coach Taylor's ear.
Tom Brady as J.D. McCoy
Every storyline needs a villain, and just like FNL made J.D. the villain, the Patriots golden boy Tom Brady is a villain in the same fashion. Both McCoy and Brady are tall, handsome quarterbacks who also have a mean father/coach. J.D. had his father and of course Brady has Bill Belichick. Belichick left the field before the Super Bowl was even over four years ago! You simply can't write a better villain if you tried.
"All in!" as "Clear eyes. Full hearts. Can't lose!"
The Giants credo was born in the locker room much like Coach Taylor's credo. Both serve as a rallying cry for their teams and I would argue both are better than the Giants' "Stomp you out!" credo in 2004. Although, nothing tops "Clear eyes. Full hearts. Can't lose!" Ever.
It would be fitting to hear the Friday Night Lights theme song as the Giants take the field in Indianapolis on Sunday. Actually NBC, who is broadcasting the Super Bowl this year, should really do that since they own Friday Night Lights and it's possibly the coolest sports music ever. The Dillon Panthers and later the East Dillon Lions (my fantasy team name for life) overcame incredible odds to become champions just like the New York Football Giants have overcome devastating injuries and poor performances on the field to make a run to the Super Bowl. Will they leave as champions? Much like any season finale of Friday Night Lights it could go either way. Do they have a shot? Absolutely. Clear eyes, full hearts, etc.