A Big Blue Win Would Erase My Bad Blue Memory
I stopped having favorite teams years ago, but I really hope the Giants win on Super Sunday. As in the previous three wins dating back to ’87, it would help me forget what I endured for them in the dim, distant past before the Super Bowl even had Roman numerals.
It was a cold, gray, grim December 10, 1967. The Giants are a shadow of the group that battled in the Ice Bowl, the Fearsome Foursome had begun to disintegrate through retirements and trades. Their main attraction was Pete Gogolak, who popularized soccer-style place kicking in the pros and had drifted over from the Buffalo Bills (the Giants taking talent from the AFL!) to supplant the woeful Bob Timberlake.
My sainted Uncle John, who prayed to a statue of Wellington Mara daily, took me to my first pro game that year. We rode in the style and comfort of a bus and subway train to a battle between the Giants and the Detroit Lions.
The Giants played in the old Yankee Stadium. The temperature stood somewhere around 10 Fahrenheit, but the East River wind whipping through at about 80 miles an hour made it feel like about 40 below. The seats were hard and wooden, sporting decades of enamel paint. Not that it mattered, everyone stood for the entire game.
We arrived early, so that by game time my face, hands and feet were all Big Blue, just like the Giants. From my vantage point behind a pillar that supported the upper deck, I could see nothing much…only a magnificent running back in cadet blue and silver named Mel Farr, chuckling his way past the Giants’ valiant defense. Scrappy little Fran Tarkenton spent much of the his time underneath the Lions’ ferocious defensive line. At least he was keeping warm.
By halftime, I’m practically crying from the cold. “Wait!,” cried my sainted Uncle John, “they’re gonna come back!” Off I go to buy a hot chocolate. By the time I return to our seats, I’m chipping a layer of ice off the top of it.
The second half was just like the first, except that creaky old Earl Morrall replaced scrappy little Fran Tarkenton underneath the Lions. Finally, the two-minute warning. “Wait!” cried my sainted Uncle John for the fortieth time that day, “It ain’t over!”
Oh, but it was. The score was Lions 30, Giants 7, which proved to be of little comfort later that night as I huddled against a radiator back at the house.
Fast-forward to 1976. I’m now taking my own nephew to his first Giants game. It’s the first year in their beautiful new home in the Meadowlands. Their main attraction is Larry Csonka, a free agent from Miami (the Giants taking talent from the AFC!). It rained cats and dogs all day. You may remember, the old stadium had little in the way of roofing. My nephew, drenched, was nearly crying by halftime, while I, his sainted uncle, kept yelling, “Wait! It ain’t over!”
Oh, but again, it surely was. Big Blue took a beating that day, too, one of 11 they endured that year against three victories. I can’t even remember the opponents or the final score. I had forgotten it all by the time I finished squeegee-ing the inside of my car from all the rain we took home with us in our clothes.
So, this Sunday, while the Giants’ D harangues Tom Brady to distraction and Eli and Cruuuuuuuuz play catch as though no one else is on the field, it’ll be great fun for me to watch – on TV, warm and dry.