The play clock hung at :01 second as if to taunt Patriot Nation for the 21 straight weeks of boasting it had done about its undefeated season. The outcome was unavoidable and just as quickly as I turned the television on right as I woke up, I reached for that remote, head down and shut the celebration off.
I couldn’t bring myself to make that concession call to my NY Giant friends. I almost felt like Al Gore after the 2000 Presidential election, except in this instance, I wasn’t afforded a recount.
I drove my little brother home in silence, no radio, no conversation, just my thoughts. I had initially invited him over to muster up any remaining good karma that I could get out of him. Shameless right?
The day replayed over in my head as I crept down low in my seat as if to avoid any hecklers at the intersections. While not completely embarrassed of the Asante Samuel jersey that I had worn religiously throughout the playoffs, I was indeed uncomfortable. I immediately began to wonder if I had done all of my Sunday rituals (and sorry God, I do not mean church).
- Grey NE Undershirt
- Asante Samuel Jersey
- Red, White and Blue AFC Championship blanket
- Call BJ for Pre-game analysis and predictions
- Call family to find out where they are watching the game for situational awareness
- Roundtable Pizza (must be different order from previous week)
- Text nasty comment about Bruschi missing tackles before halftime to Luke
- Pick up little brother for good luck and keep him happy
Ok I was being superstitious. But didn't I have a right to be? Were the Patriots not 18-0 and on the brink of capping off the most cherished season in NFL history? I wasn’t used to the feeling of anger, disappointment and regret. My thoughts shifted to the players of the Patriots and veterans like Randy Moss and Junior Seau who had contributed so much and came up shy of tasting the fruits of their labors.
It wasn’t supposed to end like that. Not after all that we had been through (the critics, spygate, flirting with perfection). I mean I wish I could have said that I was as calm under pressure as Tom Brady appeared even with :10 seconds left. The truth was that I was restless. I broke character (Coach Belichick would have been disappointed); I behaved like a Tiger held captive in a zoo and released into the wild. I was out of my element and panicking. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t a caveman. I had seen Mr. Brady manufacturer comebacks over the years, but just not of this magnitude. As the last pass on 4th of 20 hit the ground, so too did my knees. I looked back at my little brother in silence as if to say that I had let him down. I was speechless (yes, me, the Patriot fan!) I realized for once that we were not going to have the last words on the podium, or the Championship parade. I wasn’t going to see Tom’s handsome face look into the camera and say “I’m going to Disney World.” Instead, I got up and turned off the celebration. My little brother knew it was time to go home. He followed me out the door.
I’ve never liked being at the top. I’d much rather be the comeback kid rising from adversity. I prefer David over Goliath and the underdog versus the favorite any day. Perhaps that is why a piece of me while resentful, almost feels happy for the Giants. They had been the physical manifestation of everything that I believed in. I know the Manning family is proud at this moment. And while I haven’t been able to bring myself to turn the TV back on to see whether or not Eli won the MVP, I know he probably deserved it.
Contriving this last line here has taken a considerable amount of my time. In a sense, I almost don’t want to stop this post as it will symbolize the end for me and an acceptance of defeat. How do I wrap up a season that was so enjoyable to watch up until the last second without feeling like a loser? I guess I’ll end it by extending congratulations to NY Giants fans and an acknowledgment of how imperfect the end can be.