I feel I have let down an entire franchise, their fans and their players. My friend Phil squanders at least one set of tickets every Giants football season on me and my wife. At first I thought he enjoyed my company. But when I was extremely annoying game after game, season after season, and he still invited me, I grew suspicious. Then I realized it was my record. I am lucky like a rabbit’s foot (a rabbit’s foot is luckier for humans than for rabbits). Dating back to the 1986 championship season, I estimated that the Giants’ won/loss record for games I attended was 26 and one. Every once in awhile I am called upon to save the Giants’ season at a critical time, and this was one of those moments.
Things were going well, and the Giants had engineered a seemingly safe comeback in the late stages of the game. But a last minute scoring drive by the opposition left me with my jaw hanging lifelessly like an empty windsock. My wife looked at me like I had just tracked in dog-do. I glanced over at Phil and he had a look of disgust on his face like I just dropped a cigar butt into his Cheerios. Even his 8-year-old kid looked at me like I had just stolen his Halloween candy. I looked around the stadium and everyone was looking at me like I had just run over their cats, and the ones who hated cats looked at me like I had failed to run over their cats.
I myself was stunned, and I immediately looked to blame others. For instance, how come the Giants have no cheerleaders? How do we know when to cheer? There are specific rules about it. You are supposed to cheer very loudly when the home team is on defense, so the opposing quarterback can’t hear his cellphone ringing. While the Giants are on offense, you are supposed to cheer in a kind of whisper, and clap so that your hands stop when they are an inch or so apart. Even that is too loud and Eli Manning flaps his arms, telling the crowd to “Hey- hold it down over there.” He flapped his arms so fast that he actually lifted four feet off the ground, and flew around the backfield. The crowd that witnessed this was amazed, because they figured the Giants would just go for the field goal. Then Eli landed flawlessly behind center in just enough time to get a delay-of-game penalty.
I wanted to watch it on instant replay, but they don’t replay things instantly in live football. Luckily, since the Giants have so many penalties, they replay each down at least twice, so I am MORE than satisfied. They do have a huge Jumbotron on each side of the stadium. If the Giants make a spectacular play, you can look up afterward on the big screen and see a replay of a Geico commercial. At the stadium in Dallas they have a Jumbotron so big that runs the length of a football field. I happen to know this because there is a football field right underneath it.
In Seattle, the crowd does a thing called “The Wave.” It is a cheerleading phenomenon whereby everyone in the stadium, in succession, rises from their seat and waves their arms. From far away it looks like a big tidal wave. I was at the beach and thought I saw the same thing, but it was just an actual wave. At Giants Stadium they do not have the wave- any spontaneous acts of cheering that don’t involve the words, “You DICK!” are frowned upon. But New York fans have their own version of the wave where somebody finally has to get up to pee, and everyone gets up in succession to let them out, throwing up their arms at the same time because their foot has been stepped on.
Once you get to the Men’s Room you run the risk of standing behind a slow pee-er. I always look for a guy who looks like either a Mormon, a recovering alcoholic, or somebody who has been out all day in the sun and is dehydrated. But I always end up behind a human fire hose directly connected to the water table. The worst is getting behind a guy who has a kid, because then he stands there and teaches him how to pee. And god forbid the kid is hard of hearing, and has to turn around to hear what his dad is saying.
And all this is if you even get into the stadium. It takes so long to park because if you are a TRUE BLUE Giants Fan you must arrive two or three meals before the game and “tailgate.” This is a ritual that involves a barbecue, a cooler of beer, an underinflated football, and the parking space that I WAS GOING TO TAKE. Ironically cars don’t have tailgates anymore, so most people “hatchback.” Tailgating has become so high-tech and overblown, it’s hard to believe anyone would ever leave ribs and a barcolounger to go watch the game in those uncomfortable seats…. People even had these giant blue Giant blow-up dolls. The people who blew them up were also blue in color.
Incidentally, legend has it that Wellington Mara purchased the team in 1925 for $500. It came in a big box with a lot of instructions, and he had to put it together himself with some help from his big brother. It was either buy the NFL franchise or buy France, and I think he made the right decision.
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