The fourth quarter waned like the moon in late May. The game stood still at a crisp 14-10 in the favor of the New England Patriots. How I hated the evil grimace that Bill Belichick somehow turns into a smile. 3rd and 5 with 1:15 remaining on the game clock. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers were long gone. Now, it was just the beautiful game of football.
Eli Manning took the snap in shotgun formation, hoping to connect with a receiver down the field. Patriots’ defensive end Jarvis Green found an opening in the line and seized the fabric of Manning’s #10 jersey. Manning teetered before haphazardly flinging the football in the direction of the end zone. Wide receiver David Tyree ran toward the 25-yard line seeing the football flounder in the air. He extended both arms and made contact with the football, only to have it knocked out of balance by Patriots’ strong safety Rodney Harrison. In the span of a second, Tyree pressed the ball against his helmet and came down with possession of the football.
It was a catch … New York Giants 1st and 10.
The rest of the game was history.
The New York Giants became the Super Bowl XLII champions. At the time, I was 5 years old.
After the game concluded, the rain uniformly splattered onto a San Francisco pier in the cold February chill. The only thing sheltering my baby hairs was a royal blue knit beanie with Giants insignia that I wore with pride. This day is genuinely one of the only memories I can coherently recall from my youth.
I look back on my childhood quite often when I am alone at college. I reminisce on the shelter that the leather brown couch in the living room provided me, and the numerous New York Giants games that shaped my youth.
I reminisce on the shelter that the leather brown couch in the living room provided me, and the numerous New York Giants games that shaped my youth.
My birthday falls on Jan. 3. Coincidentally, so does franchise quarterback Eli Manning’s. Back in those days, every single time early January rolled around, I would pull out an oversized Manning jersey to accompany me as I blew out candles on various Carvel ice cream cakes.
Before turning 10, I developed a character that I would embody for every single Giants game. “Super G! Here to save Eli Manning from interception-land!” I would drape a fuzzy blue and red blanket over my shoulders as a cape, and proceed to use washable black ink to draw thick stripes under my eyes. During some instances, I would even tuck a small washcloth into my waistband to mimic a quarterback’s warming pouch.
I was given my first cellphone at some point during my middle school years — rose gold plating with color-coded apps my best friend insisted on organizing. I spent hours shopping online for a case to adorn this new technological lifeline to the world. I eventually settled on a clear case with a graphic of Odell Beckham Jr. palming the apple logo, just like he did in his famous catch against the Dallas Cowboys.
I felt so close to the game as a child that I even began to refer to players as if they sat beside me during family dinners.
“You know Wilson, if there’s an elusive play to make, he’ll make it.”
“Ah, that’s the thing about Garoppolo, he’s not a franchise player.”
If these pointed opinions are offending any NFC West fans out there, I promise we’ve taken our fair share of bullying in the East!
There is something so calming about the chaotic nature of the game. Mad scrambles to the line of scrimmage as the clock ticks down before the half. Desperate fights to gain a yard of enemy territory. Every game promised intertwining tales of people fighting for an oddly shaped silver trophy to hoist above their heads in late February. Sports provide comfort in the ever changing narrative of each of our individual lives.
Every game promised intertwining tales of people fighting for an oddly shaped silver trophy to hoist above their heads in late February. Sports provide comfort in the ever changing narrative of each of our individual lives.
I very recently reconnected with my love of the game. Some may say this is because the New York Giants are off to an incomprehensibly wonderful start to the season, but while there is certainly truth to this sentiment, I like to believe that football came back and knocked at my door during an incredibly tumultuous time in my life.
The first semester of my sophomore year ushered me into an era of complexities. Whether it was standing in excessively long CVS pharmacy lines for prescriptions I couldn’t pay for or cutting out of meetings early to show up late to others, I lost control of every aspect of stability I craved so desperately in life. After the first New York Giants win this season, I saw a place I could revisit to immediately cultivate a sense of home. Football immediately adopted an entirely new meaning for me. It was no longer a game that was solely enjoyed on large brown leather couches, it was a stabilizer amid turbulence. It reminded me that regardless of rain or shine, life proceeded in the metric of completions, interceptions, and everything in between.
These Giants are not the ones I grew up idolizing as heroes on that rainy February day. These are the Giants that will get me through my next Midterm Exam on Monday. As I grow older, the days spent in the cocoon of my alternate persona, Super G, have ceased to exist. Real responsibilities weigh over my insecure 19-year-old self, but at least I can find a tether back to the comforting way of the past through a fanfare of clashing helmets and cleats.
Home is a unique four-letter word, and I am so thankful for mine to be located in East Rutherford’s MetLife Stadium.