Wow. What a sensory overload. After 14 years in New York, Hernandez graciously invited me to my first New York Giants game.
No question, I’m a fair-weather, newborn fan. The kind of fan that would get his ass cracked in the bathroom if they knew I wasn’t the real deal. Which, come to think of it, they should’ve realized when they saw the St. Louis Cardinals cap.
Doesn’t matter. New York Giants fans are ecstatic, excited, friendly, and unified. After pulling off the most thrilling Super Bowl upset of all time, the Giants are largely considered the best team in the NFL. They’re fired up for games, playing well at both ends, playing for their coach who was controversial a year ago.
That’s all logical guessing. Truth is, I was gettin fucked up in a Meadowlands parking garage with Hernandez. I’d like to plug the sandwich place he picked up our pre-gametime sandwiches at, but I forget the name. I’d like to plug the beer that got me drunk but it was Coors Light, and chugging six of anything will make you lightheaded. (Hear that, brady bunch?)
Hernandez has been a lifetime Giants fan and regaled me with tales of three generations of Giants fans pissing on the same concrete wall in the same parking garage we tailgated in. We had a spirited conversation about the best fan jersey he’d seen, and I can’t believe I remember this (I have a shitty memory) but he told me an amazing Ron Dayne jersey story. Ron Dayne ran for the Giants in a decade past. Uh, come to think of it, could you tell the story again Hernandez?
The game was incredible. *Incredible*. The energy spouting from the field consumes the fans. I know NFL football as a game that lasts 3 hours plus but only features 15 minutes of action, and figured there’d be a lot of standing around. Not at all.
The main distraction is the fans. I’ve been to hundreds of sporting events, and there are always true fanatics, fueled by allegiance and community and history, and probably a fair amount of $8 Natural Lights. But the people around us were legitimately thrilled. A guy standing behind me with his 10-year old son gave commentary that was always earnest, always well-informed, almost always on target, and usually hilarious — better than any commentator working on Fox or CBS this year.
Further than that was the Giants themselves. For the random game that Hernandez invited me to, the Giants proved they are the best team in the NFL. This is not some economic thing where the Giants are the Yankees and can buy the best team money can buy–they are the same team they were last year. Only worse. They’ve lost Strahan and Umenyiora, the anchors of their pass rush. They’ve lost media beast Jeremy Shockey, who was a hard-ass blocker and receiver and was able to deflect a lot of media coverage off Eli.
No matter anymore. Strahan is gone. Umenyiora has been out all season. Jeremy Shockey is a Saint (and injured). And Eli is not the quarterback he’s ever been in New Jersey. He’s confident. He makes mistakes, he makes passes, but foremost the Giants fans believe in him.
And the Giants are the best team in the NFL. I got to see them.