My name is Smitty, and I am a Giants fan. Sports change, but only that is constant. I celebrated the Yankee series win in 1996, only to turn traitor and root for the Red Sox the following year. I abandoned the Knicks for the Nets after the 98 season, when the most watchable guy on the Knicks was a spastic, 5 foot 4 white guy with a bald scalp and the heart of a warrior. (The Jeff Van Gundy Era.) But never, until this Sundays game did it even CROSS my mind to give up on my beloved Giants.
I grew up in a golden era for Giants football, and watched them roll to two superbowl victories, in 86 and I grew up with these guys; LT, The Phils (McConkey and Simms), Odessa Turner, Rodney Hampton, Bavaro, Bard The Greatest Offensive Lineman of all-time Oates, plus Jeff Hostettler AND his moustache. To put this into perspective, I would say that, in the Pantheon of Smitty's Personal Feats, meeting an older heavier Otis Anderson would be placed right in between #3 Being yelled at by Hey Dude's David Lascher for trashing his house, and #5 Seeing Shannon Tweeds ample bosom for the first time (Electra, Cinemax, February 1994)
One downside to all the sucsess I had come to expect was that it did not prepare me for the football wasteland that was the Giants seasons between 1993-1999. Phil Simms inexplicably turned into Boomer Esiason, Hostettler left the Giants for the sunny beaches of Oakland, where he would later become a successful gay porn star. In the most astounding turn of events Bard Oates left football to become a LAYWER Somewhat less surprising was the fact that LT and Otis Anderson would team up to consume more drugs than the 1986 AND 2002 Mets combined.
On its own, this would be considered disastrous. But once you add in the failure to cultivate new talent (The Mara Hypothesis) it becomes a straight on clusterf*ck. Lets break this down. We lost the greatest tight end of all time, and replaced him with Jerrod Freaking Bunch. We lost two Hall of Very Good Quarterbacks and replaced them with Danny Kannell and Dave Brown, both of whom, like Giovanni Carmazzi, have inexplicably managed to stay in the league for several years, despite their complete lack of talent. In the 1995 draft, despite having Pro Bowler Rodney Hampton on the roster, the Giants took Tyrone Wheatley in the first round, hoping hed be the next big thing. Needless to say Wheatley pulled a Tony Clark, stayed with the Giants for 2 years, fumbling roughly 800 times, before becoming revitalized in the Oakland Raiders offense for a year or so. Then, in a move that could only be classified by three letters (WTF) The Giants get rid of a young wide receiver by the name of Ed McCaffrey. (Thats ok though right? I mean, its not like McCaffrey has been a consistent top 10 reciever for the past 8 years) The kicker of this was, the Giants werent terrible. Just Mediocre. A consistent 5-7 win team, fans always thought they were just one player away from the playoffs. Unfortunately, that one player was not to never came.
I was going to devote a paragraph to the 1998 season, but its still too painful. When that onside kick bounced off Chris Calloways shoulder pads . . .well . . .a part of me died that day.
In 2000, the Giants started to click. With Kerry Collins (who is, without a doubt, my favorite Giants Quarterback with a drinking problem AND thinly veiled hatred for African American lineman) The Giants rolled to the Superbowl, only to be humiliated by the Ravens and Prisoner 67409810928 (One of the dominant middle linebackers in the history of the game)
In the second half of 2002 everything seemed to be coming together. The defense was playing with intensity, Collins and Toomer were hooking up more often than drunk girls at a sorority mixer, but most importantly, we had our guy. Jeremy Shockey. An idiot? yes. A loudmouth? Defenitley. Our guy? dominant TE who captured the media and Giants fans by storm? Indeed. Shockey may have been an idiot, but he was OURS. He didnt care about touchdowns, he wanted to hit somebody. He was the guy that this team needed to get behind, like Bavaro had been before him. But then amazingly, after the Giants had defeated the Eagles to reach the playoffs, the rest of the season was cancelled, meaning that the Giants 49ers showdown never happened. Pity.
Seriously, we all know what happened, so I wont even bother to recap the story. All Ill say is this: after the game, nobody says a word. I mean nothing. Even my girlfriend, who knows little about football, just knew. There were no words that could ease this gut wrenching loss. I sat there, just staring my now-flat Heineken, closer to tears than I sports had ever brought me. Then, my buddy Tom, whose family eats sleeps and breaths Giants football looks at me,with a straight face, and says I cant go home. . . . My dad . . . . I . . . I cant go home. Scary thing was, I knew exactly what he meant. Its times like this, you thank the Lord above for inventing Dixie Cups and Ping Pong Balls.
Which brings us to this season. All the key players are back, Hilliards healthy, and you have two stud rookies in Visanthe Shiancoe and William Joseph. Sounds like the recipe for a winning season no? apparently not. Tiki Barber, still scarred from his horrific playoff performances, leads all NFL backs in fumbles lost. Shockeys being triple teamed, but Collins, who is off the wagon again, is doing his best Jake Plummer imitation. Keith Hamilton hung out with Tony Tarasco too much in the offseason, and the defense is awful. Just when things were clicking for the Giants (two road wins in a row) but Collins and Barber combined for 4 turnovers as they lose to the 1-7 Falcons this afternoon. Now, with the Cowboys playing well beyond their talent, the Giants are going to have to win some games against a tough schedule if they want to think about the playoffs. Give up on my Giants? Not yet. But if theres anything I learned from Jeff Hostettler, its this; if at first you dont succeed, grow a moustache. It helps.
On a personal note Im going to next weeks game in Philly, and will be wearing my Shockey jersey proudly. This might be the last week on the site. Ill let you know.