Sunday, December 9, 2012

Football Week 14: Role Models.

        I was a Giants fan growing up and I have become a Saints fan in my adulthood.  Today those two teams face off about 12 miles from my house.  I saw the Saints and Giants play in New Orleans last season but I am not going to East Rutherford to see them this year.  Why would I go 1300 miles to see the Saints play and not 12?  Because it is December in New Jersey and it is friggin' cold and worse, rainy.  I am not going to pay $300 to Stubhub or a scalper to freeze my ass off.  Instead, I am gonna sit here in my flannel pajamas and enjoy the hell out of this match up from my very comfortable (and warm) couch.

       The Saints have a mathematical chance to make the playoffs, but slim and none is a generous assessment of their situation.  The Giants play up and down to their competition so much, it is hard to gauge their true talent.  Since I hate the other three teams in their division so very much, I am rooting for the Giants in this one, if only to keep Dallas and Washington out of the playoffs (and all the wonderful misfortune that has befallen the Eagles makes my heart soar like, well, an eagle). 

So also when I was growing up, I chose some very interesting characters to be my favorite players.  In baseball, I liked Dwight Gooden and Darryl Strawberry.  I thought Mike Tyson was a bad mutherfucker.  I liked all the goons in hockey (remember hockey?). And in football, I worshiped Lawrence Taylor.  It is a small wonder I didn't end up in prison.

I prefer to focus on Lawrence Taylor the football player, since as a football player, he is second to none.  Very few players have redefined their positions the way he did.  He was a monster. 
The real problem with LT is that he was/is a monster off the field as well.  He's not a murderer like OJ or Ray Lewis or anything, but as a human being, he is very hard to root for.
I own a #56 Giants jersey, and it sits in the back of my closet, no doubt never to be worn again, because while overlooking someone's flaws can be divine, when someone refuses to even address their flaws, like LT does, you have to question whether that person is worth rooting for.  I can look past all the drug issues, because I understand that disease, but when you pay for a 16 year old prostitute, get busted for it, and then see nothing wrong with what you did.  Yeah, well, yeah.  Thanks, but no thanks, Lawrence. 
Like a lot of players, I prefer to remember LT on the field - the ultimate disruptive force lining up all over the place and making quarterbacks tremble with fear. 

Luckily, the next Giants linebacker I deemed my favorite was a little better citizen, Jessie Armstead.
I watched Armstead, as an unknown rookie, pull off the jump into the endzone and throw the ball back to the 1 yard line move on a punt.  I had seen a lot of players try to do it, but he was the first one I saw do it perfectly.  I instantly always kept an eye on #98, who was an 8th round draft pick.  He showed hustle all the time and worked himself into a Pro Bowl player.  I have his jersey in my closet too and I am much more likely to wear that one again than the Taylor.

Also on my list of players I liked was Phil Simms.
People remember how good Simms was, but they forget that early in his career, he was benched for Scott Brunner(!).  I am not sure who should be more ashamed of that fact, him or Bill Parcells.  Anyway, Simms won one Super Bowl and won 10 games on another Super Bowl winner.  I also have met him a couple times because his son Chris went to the same high school as my cousin.  Phil would go to all the football games to watch his kid and he was a pretty down to earth guy.  Also nice was the fact that most people didn't hassle him when he was there.  I actually met him by accident the first time, bumping into him by the ladies selling baked goods in the parking lot.  His kid also had his head screwed on right and didn't seem to have much diva in him.  Chris Simms deserved a better fate in his NFL career, as injuries and bad teams derailed it. 

And just for kicks, here is a page of random Giants inserts:
At one point during the 1990 NFC Championship game, I believe I promised to name my first born son after Matt Bahr if he made the game winning kick.  While the situation hasn't come up yet, and I doubt it will, it will be difficult to explain to the mother why we have to name our child Matt Bahr.  Does anyone know the statute of limitations on such promises?


This evening is the first night of Hanukkah, so a chag sameach to my chosen readers - enjoy your dreidel and latkes.  I am not Jewish myself, but I do have a small tradition for the first night: I watch the Hebrew Hammer.  If you have never seen this film, it is amateurish and insulting and brilliant and hilarious.  I suggest it highly to everyone. 

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