I am afraid. Very afraid.
I am afraid the Patriots will win Sunday at Gillette Stadium. I am afraid that the Giants will win Sunday in San Francisco. Do you know what that means? A Patriots-Giants Super Bowl.
I still haven’t got over the last one.
If you are Irish and you are a New England sports fan, you always expect the worst. I know I do. It is the wise thing to do after Rich Gedman (not Bill Buckner) sunk the Red Sox in New York, too many men on the ice in Montreal killed the Bruins, and Rajon Rondo couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn in Los Angeles, letting the Celtics down. In New England, we are used to sports misery. (I think we like it.)
But of all of our collected tragedies, you can’t top David (expletive) Tyree catching that ball against his helmet, of all places. You will remember Super Bowl XLII. How could you forget? Our beloved Patriots were leading 14-10 with only 59 seconds left. The pain. Eli (Hillbilly) Manning, the Giants quarterback, was about to be crushed by the Patriots pass rush and the Patriots were about to win another Super Bowl.
Somehow, Manning escaped and he threw a lousy pass to a lousy receiver, one David Tyree. Tyree, covered by Rodney Harrison, somehow caught the 32-yard pass and fell to the turf with the football stuck to his helmet. First down. It kept the winning drive alive as Manning then threw the winning touchdown to a wide open Plaxico Burress, who was to gain even more fame later when he managed to shoot himself in a New York bar.
Of course we hate all New York teams, including the Yankees and the Jets, even those Knickerbockers. That is a given. But the Giants ruined what would have been a perfect season for Tom Brady and the Patriots. That is unforgivable.
The Giants were the first NFL team on television. Some weak-minded New Englanders, such as Jimmy Brannan, fell for their siren call. But I could never take their whiny announcer Chris Shenkel. He was a “homer” who deified every move of Sam Huff, Andy Robustelli and the others, until I ended up rooting for whatever team the Giants played. I loved it when Y. A. Tittle, the Giants overrated quarterback, ended up bloodied on the turf. Chicago, I think.
When the Patriots finally were established in Boston (not Foxborough) we dutifully followed them from stadiums at Boston University and Harvard, even Fenway Park a few times. God, they were terrible teams but they were ours, all ours. But they got better and better and I was in attendance when the Patriots finally beat the Giants in Foxborough. All right it was a preseason exhibition game, but it was still a golden moment for me.
Now, a lot of New England fans want revenge. They want the Patriots to beat the Ravens on Sunday, and then have the Giants beat the San Francisco 49ers, to have rematch of Super Bowl XLII. Not me. Of course I will be screaming for the Patriots on Sunday. But I will be rooting even harder for the 49ers to beat the damn Giants, so we don’t have to.
Nobody is playing better than the Giants right now. I am afraid that they will pound Brady in the Super Bowl, like they did the last time.
I am afraid. Very afraid.