Four years ago, I sat in front of my television before Super Bowl 42. Finally it was time for both teams to enter University of Phoenix Stadium. The Giants, the ‘away’ team, wearing their white jerseys, ran out of the tunnel first. But what struck me was the song that played in the background while they did; Kanye West’s epic anthem to never giving up, “Stronger”.
In my mind, this song defined the Giants’ season. They started 0-2 and were counted out by almost every analyst. But they came roaring back and eventually secured themselves a wild-card berth to the playoffs. Then came the post-season, where they won 3 games in a row, on the road, including one in frigid temperatures at Lambeau Field to send them to the Super Bowl. They were smacked around and beaten near death, but they never died, and what didn’t kill them only made them stronger. The Patriots’ song was, in short, forgettable. In that moment, I felt something that I hadn’t up until then, a little flicker of belief that the lowly Giants could take down the machine that was the undefeated Patriots.
About 4 hours later, I sat on the floor of my family room, in tears, as Eli Manning hoisted the Lombardi Trophy for the first time.
That night seems like a long time ago. Almost everything in my life is different. But that memory remains pristine. It’s a shining light of happiness, an almost perfect culmination of events, a frozen moment in time.
I think that’s why, yesterday, I felt horrendously ill as the clock ticked closer to 6:30 p.m. The situation was eerily similar and I was terrified that my flawless memory would be tarnished forever. Then, it came time for the teams to enter Lucas Oil Stadium. The Giants, again in their white away uniforms, entered first. This time, the song was “Written in the Stars” by British rapper Tinie Tempah featuring Eric Turner.
The opening lyrics? Oh, Written in the stars ~ A million miles away ~ A message to the main ~ Seasons come and go, But I will never change and I’m on my way…
The Patriots song, another oldie clunker: Crazy Train by Ozzy Osborne.
I think it was then that I started to laugh. Could the Giants’ song be any more fitting? All week, members of the Giants organization were saying that this team was a team of destiny. Even though NFL seasons come and go, that night 4 years ago will never change, and once again, Eli Manning and Co. are on their way. Also, it seems that throughout their entire career’s, Tom Coughlin and Manning have been constant in their hard work and preparation. They have been unmovable rocks in the tornado that is the New York media. And now, well, it seems they are on their way to Canton and the Hall of Fame.
But back to the game. Yes, it was happening again. The game where the Giants start surprisingly strong (a safety?), have the Patriots on their heels, but, these are the Patriots and Tom freaking Brady, and they’re never out of it. The Giants enter halftime down, but not by much. The second half starts and the Patriots execute a near perfect drive that ends in an embarrassingly easy touchdown. But the Giants fight back, keeping it close with a couple of field goals, the lead never out of reach. But again, its the Patriots and Bill freaking Belichick, and once again they’re driving down the field, about to put the nail in the Giants’ coffin. But then, something weird happens, the defense wakes up and after dropping Brady for a savage sack, he becomes a little less sharp. A brutal drop by the usually solid gold Wes Welker ends the Patriots momentum with 3:36 left on the clock and the ball goes to Eli Manning. Oh Eli, the kid brother, the dork, the dope, the quiet giant, with one more chance to win the game in the 4th quarter. Was there really any doubt? It was, if you will, written in the stars…