Monday, February 04, 2008

We Might Be Giants

Sometime about 10:30 p.m. EST, The New York Giants astonished the undefeated New England Patriots by crushing their hopes for a perfect season, outplaying them in their 17-14 victory to become the Superbowl Champions in what was, for me, the most riveting football game I have ever seen. I watched dumb-founded as Eli Manning, endangered by an eminent sack by the entire defensive line, emerge unscathed and launch a rocket to David Tyree whose acrobatic leap and catch saved the Giant's quest for a perfect playoff season as he held onto the ball wedged against his helmet and crashed to the ground, slammed down violently by the defense. Moments later, the ball was sailing in a graceful, beautiful arch into the hands of Plaxico Burress for the winning touchdown with 35 seconds remaining. The play was so vivid that it seemed to occur in slow motion and silence, suspended in the awesome realization that once again the team had bounced back from certain defeat. Like Mercury Morris, a tear came to my eye as I literally wept for the sheer beauty of a Big Blue victory in the desert, a kind of aesthetic peak experience.

More than half a continent away, Manhattan was rocking with cheers from the streets, terraces and balconies throughout the city. Horns were blaring. Sirens were screaming. The Empire State Building was bathed in blue. The streets, restaurants, subways, and bars were filled with people suddenly united by the culmination of a passionate quest, strangers hugging each other like long lost friends.

Suddenly it was after midnight and I had work the next day, but I was too excited to sleep. I tossed and turned and listened to the comments and callers on WFAN.

Around 3 a.m. my son appeared by the bed and said "Dad, let me have a hug." He had just returned from a Super Bowl Party. The last time I had seen him so excited over sports was when the Rangers won the Stanley Cup and we went to the ticker tape parade together. At that time he was a goalie on a travel team. Now in the midst of the Giant's culmination of a most improbable season, we hugged each other in a genuine understanding that something special had just transpired that was more meaningful than just a game. There was connection at many levels, with many years of sharing and working through disappointments, defeats, and victories.

Few had given the Giants a chance to win any of the playoff games. They just were not good enough. And yet, the Giants maintained that they believed in themselves and their teammates, and that was all that was needed to win. They not only believed they could win, despite all odds against them, but that they would win. In a way the entire season for the Giants was a metaphor for believing and persevering through adversity. They began by losing their first two games and having the worst record in football. Then as they played their third game, they began to turn the tide, but each achievement was also followed by mistakes and defeats. The coach was highly criticized and there were calls for his dismissal. The young quarterback was denounced as lacking any talent and simply did not have the right stuff to lead any team to victory, a hopeless draft mistake that had ruined the franchise.

Yet, the Giants refused to listen to the negative energy all around them, and simply replied, "It doesn't matter. We believe." I think the meaning for all of us inspired by their persevering through adversity is that we share the journey of this team to greatness: Never stop believing in yourself. Never, never give up, no matter what. Never believe the deliberately destructive negative noise directed at you.

They Might Be Giants was the name of a 1971 Broadway play and film written by James Goldman starring George C. Scott and Joanne Woodward. The title comes from Don Quixote, and Justin Playfair, who has retreated into fantasy after the death of his wife, imagines himself to be Sherlock Holmes, speculates about Quixote's madness in tilting at windmills that he believes are giants:
Of course, he carried it a bit too far. He thought that every windmill was a giant. That's insane. But, thinking that they might be... Well, all the best minds used to think the world was flat. But, what if it isn't? It might be round. And bread mold might be medicine. If we never looked at things and thought of what they might be, why, we'd all still be out there in the tall grass with the apes.
Sunday night, February 3, 2008, the New York Giants extended their metaphor to us and invited us to share their journey. They emerge as giants... and now We might be giants, We can be giants, if we know to believe in ourselves, the power of our destiny and what we might become.

1 comment:

Palmerius said...

And there's the prog. band: