Before last night's big catch, I had a small white dog named Tiki
Barber. We picked his name three years ago, partly due to our love of
the then-Giant's player, but more so because we enjoyed the irony that
a rodent-like canine would bare the same name as a strapping athlete.
However, after yesterday's Super Bowl victory and Tiki's mid-season
defection, we've officially changing the dog's name to Plaxico
Let me back up a bit for a moment.
I am not a football fan. Basketball, yes (barely). But football?
Nope. Can't do it. My husband -- and as a result, my children -- are
football fans, specifically Giants fans. And genuine Giants fans (NOT
fair-weather fans) who've been devoted since their dismal 0-2 start at
the beginning of the season. When this underdog of all underdog teams
made it to the Super Bowl, my family felt it was time for an
intervention: They would make me a football fan no matter what.
Old methods of patiently translating plays into laymen's terms and
offering up stats hadn't worked in the past. So they resorted to what
they hoped would get me -- a good, juicy, story. My husband sat me
down on Saturday and I listened, spellbound, as he spun a tale that
was nothing short of Greek tragedy or a daytime soap opera at the very
least. He started with the dismal season the giants had slogged
through and the continuing momentum gathered by the stalwart Patriots.
He told me about Tiki Barber's mid-season defection (shame on him),
about his bad mouthing of the team, the coach and then some. He told
me about the death of not one, but two of the team owners, the
Patriarchs Tisch and Mara. He gave me Eli Manning's bio, that he was
like "the little quarterback who could" (my words) who lived in the
shadow of his brother, Super Bowl winner and MVP Peyton, and this was
his big chance to overcome his own doubts about his ability to lead
the team to victory. The added bonus was the multi-generational piece
that the Manning boys were spawned by NFL player Archie, although he
had never made it to a play off game himself. He then threw in more
details about early season rumors about the coach getting fired, his
insulting one-year contract and other tidbits that burned the story
into my memory, especially the fact that the season, to some, had been
relegated to the "Eli-error" from the "Eli-era."
I have to admit, I wanted to say afterwards, "You had me at, 'Tiki
announced his retirement,'" but he was enjoying telling the story too
Then he filled me in on the Patriots: about Tom Brady (who of course I
knew, but only as Giselle's Adonis boyfriend), and about their
undefeated season record. If they won, it would be history in the
making, and if they lost, their victorious season would ostensibly be
stricken from NFL memory.
"So it's not how you play the game?" I asked naively.
"Are you kidding?" he said. "This is professional sports. Not third grade."
So on game day I dutifully spray-painted my kids hair red, white and
blue, I baked chocolate chip cookies complete with team color
sprinkles and I wore a Giants hat, which was the best I could do in
terms of my own uniform. Much of the first half I spent only half
watching the game, half chatting with my girlfriends. But during the
second half of the game I was transformed from passive observer to 110
percent committed fan. All the family history and team drama came
rushing forth and heightened the plays on the field, which for most
fans were already sensational enough. I had my daughter on my lap, my
husband and son next to me, and a gaggle of friends and fans all
around me. I am hoarse today from the involuntary screams and cheers I
found myself emitting, as what I witnessed what my husband kept saying
was "impossible" happening before our very eyes. I felt that rush of
adrenaline that all sports fans must feel regularly and the
indescribable connection to something that seemed, well, silly to me
in the past.
When Eli Manning threw the winning pass that lead the Giants to their
17-14 victory, it wasn't a quarterback I saw throwing the ball. It
was a son carrying out a legacy, a brother coming out of the shadow;
it was a boy, like my boy, who loved a game and played it well.
I cheered with my husband, who was teary-eyed and beside himself with
joy and frankly, despite his undying devotion to the team, disbelief.
"The Giants won the Super Bowl! The Giants won the Super Bowl!" he
chanted over and over, perhaps to convince himself it was really true.
I stood beside him, but despite my newfound fan status, I could feel
his disappointment that he wasn't among super fans like himself (they
were at the game) and that we couldn't ,despite our best efforts, feel
what he was feeling as intensely as he was feeling it himself.
Post game day has been filled with replays, highlights and newspaper
articles being bandied about. We ordered our Super Bowl champ
sweatshirts first thing and I must confess to being disappointed that
the game went too late for the NY Post to print a Post-worthy headline
I will never care about stats and probably never understand the
difference between offensive and defensive pass interference. But I
know enough to change my dog's name from a traitorous tailback back to
a clutch receiver.
Follow Romi Lassally on Twitter: www.twitter.com/@tmcromi