The New York Giants are one of the worst franchises in America, but you're not allowed to be mad
Last night, the Giants lost to the Eagles, which is bad under normal circumstances but especially bad after holding a late, double-digit lead. Worse, it was on Thursday Night Football, which is the Akron, OH of football spectacles. The Giants moved to 1-6 with the loss, and at this point we can pretty safely say that they are a bad-to-rotten franchise. Their record over the last four seasons is 13-42, they haven't won a playoff game in a decade, and there doesn't seem to be a solid plan for changing any of it. The great hope for the franchise is Daniel Jones, and Daniel Jones comes from Duke. I spent four years watching Duke attempt to play football, and let me tell you, Saturdays at Wallace Wade are the Thursday Night Football of the NCAA. I don't care how competent he seems at times; he came from Duke, and it will end badly. (I think I'm making sense, and if not, it's because the situation is too dismal to be coherent.)
But here's the thing: None of it matters. You know the unwritten fan code that says you can't get mad for a year or two after your team wins a championship? The whole "playing with house money" concept that Bill Simmons popularized? Well, may I remind you that the Giants beat the Brady/Belichick Patriots not once, but twice, in Super Bowls? And that one of them ruined a perfect season? And that when Belichick has nightmares, he sees the dopey grinning face of Eli Manning? And that the whole franchise is like a thorn in the side of the Patriot juggernaut, haunting their memories?
If a normal Super Bowl victory earns a franchise one to two years of grace from the fans, then my contention is that the first Patriots win earned the Giants approximately 17 years, and the second one tacked on another 13. Which means the first grace period hasn't even expired yet, and Giants fans aren't allowed to get mad at their team being a sack of fetid trash until 2037 at the earliest.
I still remember 2007. I watched that game in a room full of Patriots fans, and it was the best, most hilarious, most triumphant sports experience of my life. Whenever I feel bad, I close my eyes and remember their faces . . . the smugness turning to denial turning to sad. I wish I had collected their tears. It also happened to coincide with the peak of my Giants fandom, and I lived and died with every close playoff game that month. After the Super Bowl, I downloaded the game on a torrent website and—I'm not exaggerating here—watched the final drive every day, complete with Tyree and the Plaxico TD, for at least a month. I knew in 2007 and I still know today that even if I live to be 150 years old, I'll never see a game as perfect and satisfying as that Super Bowl . . . right down to Belichick stomping off because he was too much of a baby to shake hands with Tom Coughlin. (And some of the stuff I wrote around that time reflects my own personal hysteria.)
Then they did it again four years later, which was almost as good. You can never quite capture that original high, but this was almost as transporting. So tell me: what other fanbase gets to experience this kind of thing once, much less twice? This is "blowing up the death star" stuff. In the decade since that last victory, I've gradually moved away from the NFL, and maybe I'm not one to talk since I only loosely follow the Giants anymore. But frankly, they've already given me more pleasure than I could have reasonably expected in an entire lifetime. It's never going to get that good again. Quitting while you're head is the rational fan move, but even if you remain a diehard, you can't complain about the current state of futility. The Super Bowl tsunami hasn't crashed yet, and if you're dying to get mad at what is legitimately a garbage team, well . . . 2037 is coming.