Approach to the Game – New York Giants at Detroit Lions, December 22, 2013: With the season already over, I will use next week’s game preview to focus on burning roster questions moving forward. But I’d like to use this game preview as an opportunity to look back.
For over a thousand years Roman conquerors returning from the wars enjoyed the honor of triumph, a tumultuous parade. In the procession came trumpeteers, musicians and strange animals from conquered territories, together with carts laden with treasure and captured armaments. The conquerors rode in a triumphal chariot, the dazed prisoners walking in chains before him. Sometimes his children robed in white stood with him in the chariot or rode the trace horses. A slave stood behind the conqueror holding a golden crown and whispering in his ear a warning: That all glory is fleeting. – General George C. Patton
The New York Giants have won eight NFL titles. The only teams that have won more are the Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears. In terms of Super Bowls, only three teams have won more than the Giants’ four Lombardi trophies: Pittsburgh Steelers, San Francisco 49ers, and Dallas Cowboys. What fans should take away from this is the NFL Championship is a rare and special commodity. Some fans never live to enjoy one, let alone two (if you are a young fan of the Giants), four (if you are older), or more (if you are really old – sorry guys and gals).
For a championship season to take place, there has to be talent, coaching, incredible execution, chemistry, health, and indeed some luck. Each NFL season is fragile and easily broken. So much can – and usually will – go wrong. That’s why it is so special when your team does win it all.
In two magical post-season runs in 2007 and 2011, the New York Giants went 8-0, each time defeating the NFC’s #1 and #2 seeds on the road, and then defeating the AFC’s #1 seed in the Super Bowl. The Dallas Cowboys were supposed to crush the Giants in 2007. The Green Bay Packers were supposed to do likewise in 2007 and 2011. The Giants were supposed to be an asterisk in Patriots’ perfect season as the greatest team ever in football. And Bill Belichick and Tom Brady were expected by many to get their revenge in the Super Bowl four years later.
So many memories. So much glory. R.W. McQuarters picking off Tony Romo…the look on Jerry Jones’ face…Eli Manning out-dueling Brett Favre at Lambeau…Corey Webster with the pick….Lawrence Tynes with the kick…Justin Tuck & Company knocking the snot out of Tom Brady in Super Bowl XLII…Manning’s two fourth-quarter touchdown drives…Manning to Tyree and then Burress…Manning out-dueling Aaron Rodgers…the war of attrition in San Francisco ending in OT…the re-match in Super Bowl XLVI…Manning to Manningham…Brady’s last desperate heave falling harmlessly to the ground.
Two of the Giants eight NFL Championships and half of their Super Bowl victories have come with Tom Coughlin the head coach; Kevin Gilbride the offensive coordinator; Eli Manning the quarterback; Justin Tuck, Chris Snee, and David Diehl on the lines; and Corey Webster and Aaron Ross in the secondary. Others were only there for the second go-around, but were equally instrumental in that magical and unexpected run.
These men deserve our gratitude. More importantly, they deserve our respect. For if it were not for them, the Giants would still be stuck at six NFL Championships, and we’d be approaching a quarter of a century since the Championship run in 1990. If you can’t thank and root for the men, who were you rooting for? Just the blue uniform? Just the “ny” trademark on the side of the helmet?
Charlie Conerly, Frank Gifford, Kyle Rote, Andy Robustelli, Sam Huff, Em Tunnell, and others became New York Giant legends for what they accomplished in 1956.
Bill Parcells, Phil Simms, Joe Morris, Mark Bavaro, Leonard Marshall, Lawrence Taylor, Harry Carson, and others became New York Giant legends for what they accomplished in 1986.
Tom Coughlin, Eli Manning, Brandon Jacobs, Ahmad Bradshaw, Plaxico Burress, Amani Toomer, Victor Cruz, Hakeem Nicks, Michael Strahan, Osi Umenyiora, Justin Tuck, Antonio Pierce, and others will become New York Giant legends for what they accomplished in 2007 and/or 2011.
Keep that in mind during this dark time. Don’t tarnish past glory. Glory is indeed fleeting. It does not last. But the memory of it can live forever.
Whatever happens during the course of the next few months, I personally would like to thank Coach Coughlin, Coach Gilbride, Eli Manning, Justin Tuck, and the others for every cherished memory. You’ve made my life happier for what you did on the playing fields. Thank you.