And One, what beautiful words, and one. Let those two words wash over you for a minute. That is some satisfying shit right there. Two words and my faith in the football gods has been restored. Two words and I have had a huge smile on my face since about 10pm last night. Two words and all my masshole coworkers can come up with are stuttering excuses and what was the Raider’s record retorts.
For 18 weeks I was subjected to endless hyperbole of how this Pats team was the greatest of all time, and I had no counterargument. This was the best football team that I could remember seeing. They were doing things that no other team in the salary cap era had accomplished. As a football team they were truly remarkable. Unfortunately the Pats fan base is so hard to stomach it took away from my ability to watch the football equivalent of a Picasso being created.
Most days I ride too and from work with a Pats fan. He endlessly would regale me with his theories on the Pats motivation, the Pats strategy, the Pats Perfection. He and the other Pats fans at work would joyfully expound on the Pats exploits for hours. The best I could come up with was that the season wasn’t over yet and if they didn’t win the Super bowl than all would be for naught.
Every week I would pin my hopes on one overmatched team after another. Looking for some way that David could hit Goliath with that fateful stone. Every week Goliath laughed.
Until all was left was Eli. I had to pin my hopes on Eli. Sure he had had the best game of his young career against the Pats. Sure his team matched up as well as any other David had all season. Punishing pass rush, punishing run game, the two factors that gave this Goliath fits. But week after week tough defenses and run games wilted under the Onslaught of Goliaths execution.
Here I was, pinning my hopes on Eli, a guy whom up to this point had his picture next to wilting in the dictionary. Impossible expectations had been heaped upon the lesser Manning since college. He was expected to be his brother, but seemingly would never measure up. How could this mere mortal be expected to come through on the biggest stage in American sports?
The game went much the way I expected. It was a tough physical game. The Giants as a team matched up well. Then in the 4th quarter the Pats offense put together a drive that seemingly put a dagger in the hearts of the football world. Eli came out onto the field and looked shaky as the Pats D applied their most consistent pressure of the game. It looked as if yet another team would falter in the waning moments to Goliath’s onslaught.
Then something miraculous happened. On 3rd down the pressure was all over Eli. The game was seemingly over. The Pats had Eli surrounded. Somehow, someway David hurled his stone and found a receiver. A collective holy shit went up from football fans everywhere. One of the greatest plays in Super Bowl, nay, Football history happened on the biggest stage at the most critical junction of the game. Goliath had been hit between the eyes. The game wasn’t over, but the monster was staggered.
The rest of the game was a blur. I was on the edge of my seat. Hoping that this hope wasn’t snatched away as it had been so many times before where this Pats team was involved. All of the sudden, Eli was no longer Fredo Manning, Eli was the chosen one, a couple plays later and the writing was on the wall. Eli had not wilted, he had done his part and succeeded where so many others had failed.
Goliath was reeling. The offense now took the field and looked panicked. A team that calmly had marched down the field in the past when time was short now swung wildly looking for a knockout shot. The poise that had been there in Super Bowls past and all season was gone. A couple long bombs later the game was over.
A Giant had felled Goliath.
Everyone in my living room jumped up. Cheering and clapping as if we were actually at the game. Never in my life had I celebrated a win that didn’t involve the Raiders in this manner. There was not one Giant fan in the room, but we had all come together to support the underdog, the most American of all rooting interests. We had shared our food and drink and now our joy. As we started to disperse it didn’t feel like hyperbole to call this the greatest game we had ever seen. We were all witness to the impossible occurring in some far off stadium.
My wife wanted me to call my parents, both Pats fans, to rub it in. But I declined they were surely heartbroken enough. They hadn’t called me to apply salt when the Raiders fell to the Bucs, they were the 1st Pats fans to admit to me that the Raiders had been jobbed in the Snow Bowl. This wasn’t the time to call them.
Besides, they weren’t the Pats fans who had taken joy in rubbing my and my coworker’s noses in our teams collective failings all year long. I had a simple enough retort for those who had delighted in pointing out the shortcomings of others all year long.
Once I arrived at work this morning the whiteboard in the conference room received a simple message.
Nothing more needed to be said. As the Pats fans trickled in the expected tired retort came my way. “Well at least we made the Super Bowl, where did the Raiders finish?” To which I replied, “The same place as the Pats, without a ring”.
Then, as I expected, someone erased the message on the whiteboard before our Monday morning meeting, so that those who aren’t in the office wouldn’t know that this is a haven of N.E. supporters. The same board that once counted down the Red Sox magic number and wins needed to clinch a World Series ring, suddenly was to important to be relegated to sports info. The morning meeting came and went, with the local Steeler fans talking about the great game last night, and a strange silence from the out of town Pats fans. The board stayed blank, despite needing to be cleared for important business.
I sat quietly knowing that it may have taken 5 months, but all was right in my football world again. Little to no mention of football dominance will be made by the collective bandwagon for a while.
Soon the euphoria will fade and the realization that no meaningful football will be played for 7 months will sink in. But until then I can reflect on a great game and those two words… and one.