My hopes for a return of my Giants to the Super Bowl this year were dashed in a Joe Pisarcik-like collapse delivered at the hands and feet of Eagle Quarterback Michael Vick and followed the week later by the precision passing of Packer Quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Now, the New Yorker in me, along with most of my Big Apple friends, says I should be pulling for the J-E-T-S to bluster their way to the Lombardi Trophy. More on Gang Green shortly. So, what are my rooting choices as the remaining four teams wind their way to Dallas and the February 6th showdown?
Let’s start with my oldest dislike. Pittsburgh. Now, I know it’s another sport but the memory of Bill Mazeroski’s walk off homer in the 1960 World Series is still raw. I know I’m supposed to get over it by now, but I was in my formative years. And, as they say, childhood memories last a lifetime. Besides, it’s the fiftieth anniversary of his Ballentine blast. Tapes of the game, recently discovered in Bing Crosby’s wine cellar, were unfortunately broadcast quality. Talk about pouring salt onto old wounds. So, the Steelers are not an option.
Next up chronologically is the Green Bay Packers. In the NFL Championship games of 1961 and 1962, the Lombardi led Packers won back to back titles over my Giants led by Sam Huff and his defensive stalwarts. The fact that the Packers bounced the Giants from the playoffs this year has nothing to do with my dislike of the occupants of Lambeau Field. I wouldn’t have been rooting for them anyway.
And, then there are Da Bears. Who can forget my Giants being manhandled by the monsters of the midway on that bone-chilling day at Wrigley Field in the 1963 NFL Championship Game? Certainly, I can’t. George Halas’ Bears won 14-10 over my Giants and hobbled Quarterback Y.A. Tittle. Let’s not even go down the slippery slope of “The Fridge” and the 1985 season ending playoffs for the G-men. Bears 21-0. Remember Sean Landeta’s whiff punt that was returned 5 yards for a touchdown? It makes DeSean Jackson’s 65-yard game-ending punt return to cap the Eagle’s comeback this year seem like child play.
So, that brings me back to the Rex Ryan coached Jets. Now, I have nothing against Joe Namath besides my dislike of the AFL and expansion teams…. I don’t have much need for the Nets, Islanders, or Mets either. But, more to the point, there’s something about the Ryan name that sticks in my throat like Chicago bratwurst or Philadelphia cheese steak. Maybe it’s that his father Buddy Ryan was Defensive Coordinator of the ’85 Bears and later coached the Philadelphia Eagles. He had earlier been the Jets linebacker coach on their ’69 Super Bowl winning team. (The only one of the remaining four teams he wasn’t a part of was the Packers whom he probably liked anyway.) Should the sins of the father be visited on the son? I’ve still got some soul searching to do on that one. But, in the short run, (and, probably a longer run, too) it disqualifies them for me.
So, I’m down to three thoughts. Should I be part of the 26% who tell us in the latest Marist Poll they watch the Super Bowl more for the commercials than the game? I think not. I like football too much to buy into that one. Second, maybe I can solve my Super Bowl dilemma by wishing that the best team wins. That’s probably the only charitable thing I’ve written so far. But, it doesn’t allow me to scream at the TV full throttle while the game is on like I do each Sunday for the Giants. Finally, deep down inside I’m thinking maybe things aren’t really too bad. It’s only slightly more than a month until pitchers and catchers. Go Yanks! But, I bet you could already tell I’m one of those Yankee fans who the rest of the sports world loves to hate.