Monday, December 28, 2009

The Grinch Who Stole Christmas

So yesterday was the worst Sunday I've had, in regards to football, in recent years. For starters, Week 16 is the final week for many (including my) Fantasy leagues. I had already been eliminated two weeks prior, but nonetheless I was still upset that my team "Go Raw Or Go Home" wasn't playing for a shot at the trophy (and $). I got over that anger when I learned Saturday that I would be going to the Giants game on Sunday vs. the Panthers with my friend Tim, in what was to be the Giants last game ever at their old stadium. We left for the Meadowlands at 9, and by 10:45 I was three beers, and two burgers deep. The tailgate was a huge success. More food and beer then I could ever consume, great music, footballs being thrown around, ice luges and funnels all in the mist of an endless sea of blue jersey's. The weather was surprisingly nice, and I just had the feeling that this was a day that I would talk to my son about in 20 years. "See that parking lot over there boy? Well that's where the Giants used to play, I remember being there for the last game..."
On my way into the game I successfully snuck in three beers (2 of which were bottles). My ability to sneak alcohol into sporting events has always been one of my greatest skills. This time I used a 3-spot combo in which I placed one can in the hood of my sweatshirt, a bottle securely tucked in my belt-line against my stomach, and another bottle in the left sleeve of my sweatshirt. As I approached the security guard I calmly lifted both arms (holding tightly the beer with my left hand through my sweatshirt) and sure enough made it in smoothly. We took the escalators up to the top tier where our seats were and got ready for the Giants to kick some ass and put some pressure on Dallas in their night game.
That's when the anal rape happened.
Seriously it was like the Giants had had it with their stadium, and wanted to to do everything in their power to disrespect their home, the fans and the organization in general. Carolina, who played without their #1 QB or RB, dominated New York in all aspects of the game. Stewart torched us for a team record 206 yards on the ground, and some guy named Moore threw 3 td's on our pathetic excuse for a defense. I say some guy because I honestly have no idea what his first name is, or where he came from , but either way he outplayed Eli (2 picks, 3 fumbles 1 of which was lost) and looked like a stud.
By the end of the third quarter the stadium looked like a ghost town and we booked it, sitting in an hour's worth of traffic to leave the stadium. Which not going to lie, was more enjoyable then watching team heartless get thrown around like rag dolls on the field.
I slept for the most of the car ride and was somewhat hungover when I arrived home at 6. I didn't feel like doing anything productive so I decided to do what I do best; lay down and watch more football. The Jets were playing the undefeated Colts, in a must win game to keep their playoff hopes alive, while the Colts (14-0) played in pursuit of an undefeated season. It was the third quarter when I turned it on and the Colts were up 15-10. This pleased me because A) it looked like the Jets were going to loose and B) I've always been a huge advocate for perfection in sports. In 2007 when the Patriots were chasing 19-0, I became a bandwagon fan, not because I liked the team, but because I liked the idea of a team in the modern age completely dominating every opponent and going through a season perfect. I rooted for the Patriots every game during that season up until the Super Bowl when my beloved Giants forever ruined their place as immortals in football history.
However this year had all the makings of perfection. Sure the Saints were the sexy pick to go undefeated, but deep down everyone knew that it was Peyton's Colts who had the best chance at winning out and re-writing the record books. We learned early on in the season that the Colts were never out of any game, and that no matter the time or scenario, as long as the ball was in Peyton's hands they would find a way to win the game. And what did Jim Caldwell do? He took the ball out of Peyton's hands, and by doing that, threw away a chance at perfection. Even as the Jets started to come back, and led 21-15 early on in the fourth, no one doubted that if Caldwell would just put the starters back in they would score in no time and cruise to 15-0. But nooo, Caldwell stuck with his decision to not play the best available players and inevitably went on to loose 29-15 to a completely under matched Jets team. Keeping the Jets undeserved playoff hopes alive, while simultaneously breaking my heart, as well as any true football fan out there.
What Caldwell did was not fair to anyone. It wasn't fair to the fans who payed money to see the teams stars play and mostly it wasn't fair to Peyton Manning's legacy. Sure he defended his coach by saying "Until any player in here is the head coach, you follow orders and you follow them with all of your heart," but do you think he really meant it? The man is the best quarterback to ever play the game, has won MVP's and a championship and has been a class act throughout his career. The only thing he didn't have, and now still won't have, is perfection.
Yes, in years past during the Tony Dungy regime players were benched in order to rest for the playoffs. They put regular season goals on hiatus, and focused on staying healthy for the playoffs but that was then, and this is now. Caldwell is a rookie coach who started out his career 14-0 before "forfeiting" a game to the Jets. Jim had a chance to write his own legacy, and he really dropped the ball. Bill Simmons tweeted earlier that if Caldwell only wanted his starters to play one half, why not play them in the second half? A reasonable question that I would love to know the answer to. Sure I'm probably slightly overreacting, and if the Colts go on to win the championship I'll eat my own words, but for now Jim Caldwell is the Grinch and I feel like Cindy Loo-Hoo.

Somewhere out there, Mercury Morris and the rest of those guys from that undefeated Dolphins team are poppin bottles and banging strippers like its 1972 again.


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