A Rare Chance To Be A Fan Again

Giants QB Eli Manning. AP photo

Cheering for the N.Y. Giants is a family tradition. When I was quite young, my dad always took a day off in August to take my brothers and me to the Giants training camp.

We’d leave at first light to drive to Fairfield University and get there in time for the morning practice. When that ended, we would walk with the players to the locker rooms about a quarter mile away and get autographs. Then we’d get the picnic my mother packed and eat lunch, followed by more of the afternoon practice. We would usually fall asleep in the car on the way home. When the season started we watched the road games on TV; home games back then were blocked out so we listened on radio. Game tickets were out of reach for our young family, but you couldn’t find more ardent fans. The big plays were dissected over dinner.

Once in the sports business, I gave up being a fan, except for the New York Giants. Unlike UH, where I get to know coaches and players in the process of covering them, I have no inside knowledge of the Giants, just what’s in the newspapers and on the tube. It is my guilty pleasure.

So now, on the brink of Super Bowl XLVI, I’m preparing to watch the game. I am turning down all Super Bowl party invitations. I need to be able to watch and vent or rant as appropriate.

My wife has offered to make whatever snacks we can think of, and my sons Max (8) and Finn (6) are all in, albeit for different reasons. Max has started to figure out the game and asks good questions. Finn has never met a snack he didn’t like; he is the Dale Carnegie of edible treats. They don’t yet understand how rare and beautiful it is to have your team in the Super Bowl. I remember each Giants Super Bowl so well. In 1986 the beatdown of John Elway and the Broncos, with a blackout in Hawaii that lasted a good part of the game; the 1990 win over Buffalo when poor Scott Norwood missed the field goal, the 2000 game when Baltimore and Ray Lewis blew the Giants out, and of course the 2007 win over the undefeated Patriots with David Tyree making the greatest catch (possibly) of all time.

And now it’s the Patriots again, and the Giants an underdog. Perfect!

When my wife wanted to know if we should invite anyone, I told her only friends close enough that they won’t be shocked by my raw and occasionally rude behavior. Even my kids are beginning to understand the gravity of the day. Max is already working up a comparison of Manning and Brady. Finn wants spicy wings, steamed shrimp and turkey chili. And I’m thrilled that I’m getting to keep a family tradition alive.

Go Giants!