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There are some around the campfire that is this newsroom who believe me to be a fair-weather fan, one who roots for teams only when their fortunes turn for the better. Of course, in my opinion, nothing can be further from the truth, something I tried to put on display last weekend during Super Bowl XXXV.
As most of you may know, I live and die with the New York Jets. They are my team, my love and my life. That fact, however, has not nor has it ever precluded me from rooting for the New York Giants, something I do with a fervent passion just short of my allegiance to Gang Green.
With my Jets home icing their wounds from a promising season turned bad, I turned my full attention to Big Blue, a team that raced through the regular season to a 12-4 record and the No. 1 seed in the National Football Conference. Of course, I didnt really turn my attention away from the Jets, for I have been watching the Giants every week for the past 20 years or so.
But some in my office, namely reporter Adam Kramer, continually felt the need to throw jibes in my direction about my newfound interest in a team from New York that had found itself in the playoffs.
I tried my best to shake it off, which isnt easy. To me, you see, jokes of such a nature go right to the heart of a persons being. Being accused of being a fair-weather fan is tantamount to being accused of being a Communist back in 1950s Hollywood. Of course, Adams 6-foot-8 frame allows him certain leeway with me, and most of the rest of bipedal hominids, sans those skulking about the Pacific Northwest and leaving large footprints.
Maybe it was because of the pointed barbs of Adam and several other of my friends in the recent weeks that had me intensify my loyalty to the Giants, despite the fact that I knew deep in my heart of hearts that they were not going to win the Super Bowl.
I made it a point to get that on the record too, with Adam and my exiled brother living in San Antonio (who seemed more worried about possible tornadoes Sunday than the likelihood of a Giants defeat). I predicted the Giants would fall 16-6, despite my longing for the contrary.
But as it turned out, I was being way too generous to my hometown team.
After the 41 points the team put up against the Minnesota Vikings, I thought the offense could at least produce six against the Baltimore Ravens, a team with the best defense I have seen at least since the 46 defense employed by Buddy Ryan and the Chicago Bears of 1985.
Truth be told, the Ravens defense is probably better. After all, the team set a record for the fewest points allowed during a 16-game season, a record previously held by those Bears. But the Bears were a better all-around team, which can certainly skew ones perspective.
Contrarily, the Ravens have a less-than-spectacular offense, led by a quarterback, Trent Dilfer, who was run out of Tampa Bay a year ago, and running back Jamal Lewis. But I thought the Giants would neutralize Lewis and Dilfer would not be a factor.
I was of the mind that special teams and field position would make the game. Baltimore was by far the superior team on special teams during the season, which leads to an advantage in field position. But this too was not the deciding factor in the game.
What happened, as most of you know, was that the Giants offense could not do anything against the Ravens defense and the Baltimore offense did just enough. Giants quarterback Kerry Collins was intercepted four times, once while New York was knocking on the door near the end of the first half when they trailed only 10-0, and the Ravens capitalized to perfection.
Watching the game at my friends house on Long Island, I tried my best to quell the fears of my compatriots who seemed downright suicidal at points when the Giants fell behind. I was pulling for the Giants too, but I tried to be realistic about it; a comeback was still possible, though highly unlikely.
In the second half, Baltimore went up 17-0 on an interception return for a touchdown. And then, a ray of hope.
Ron Dixon returned the ensuing kickoff for a touchdown, pulling the Giants back within 10 with still a quarter and a half to play.
And then it was over. Jermaine Lewis returned the following kickoff for a touchdown, putting the Ravens back up by 17. Everything seemed to just go out on the Giants at that point.
Still, I did not give up hope. I saw the Jets climb out of a bigger deficit earlier in the year and knew the Giants had it in them to come back. And maybe they did, just not against the Ravens.
Another touchdown and a field goal closed the door on any hopes in the fourth quarter. The Giants had lost.
As if to prove my loyalty I tried in vain to point out the good in the situation to my friends as we drove west on the Long Island Expressway, heading back to Queens. It was a great season, I said. They have a lot to be proud of.
Small consolation, but true.
And its small consolation to me that I will not hear any more of Adams verbal assaults, which I surely would have had the Giants pulled the upset. Still, I would have put up with it for a win.
Reach Sports Editor Anthony Bosco by e-mail at TimesLedgr@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 130.
©2001 Community Newspaper Group
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