Backing Up the Truck

Feb. 2, 2012

My cousin Bobby may never forgive me.  He was the one who gave me a Giants’ season ticket in 1986 and took me to watch every game of that Superbowl season up close.  He was the one who ignited my passion in American football and made me a lifelong dyed in blue New York Giants fan.  And he was the one who said you don’t have to bet on them, but don’t ever bet against them.  Which is why my cousin Bobby might never forgive me.  Because for the first time in my entire life, I’m preparing to back up the truck and unload against the New York Giants. 

I subscribe to the gambling philosophy of Bernie the Shvitz, which states that, “All people are idiots.”  And clever people, Bernie maintains, are the biggest idiots of them all.  Find someone that’s betting on something because it sounds smart, and it’s time to unload the truck against them.  And I’ve never before heard so many clever people who have suddenly decided it’s smart to bet on the Giants in the Superbowl.  It’s like a new religion. 

Everybody knows that the public is on the favourite in the Superbowl, it always is.  But oh my, this year is different.  The Giants’ bandwagon has been climbed on, jumped on, beaten down, and celebrated with flags.  There has never, ever, been a Superbowl where public opinion has sided so overwhelmingly with the underdog.  The betting line in this game should be New England -5, and everybody knows it should be New England -5.  But public opinion has moved it like a maelstrom.  The line was opened at -3.5, crashed to -3, and now flirts with -2.5.  For a football line to move through the number three is like putting your finger through a concrete wall.  When you see it, you blink your eyes twice.

It’s silly to compare this Superbowl to the one in 2008, although it features the same two teams and the same two quarterbacks.  That line had New England -12.  And it’s unfair to compare this game to the one the same two teams played only this past November, which had New England -9.5.  But it’s also hard not to.  Because the main difference between those two times and now, at least where the public is concerned, is in their perception of the two quarterbacks.  In a very short time, Eli Manning has gone from average to incredible and Tom Brady has gone from hero to goat. 

Now the Giants’ Eli Manning is a great clutch quarterback.  He always has been.  He was four years ago and at every moment in between.  Eli Manning would go into a burning building, move a two ton beam off a wounded man, carry him out, and perform a tracheotomy on him using a straw from a McDonalds Happy Meal before the ambulances arrived.  But the Patriots’ Tom Brady is better.  He’d save the guy and three others without letting his hair get mussed.  He’s still that guy.  He’s still Tom Brady, who only a few years ago was called perhaps the greatest quarterback who’s ever lived.  People just forget.  Fast.

I’ve watched all of the Giants’ Superbowls, and all the ones in between.  Those 1986 Giants were among the greatest NFL teams of all time.  I still see games from that season in vivid detail, and hearken long phone conversations quizzing my friend Bob on the players’ numbered jerseys.  Bob’s phone number, unforgettable, as it was simply Mark Bavaro - Sean Landeta - Lawrence Taylor - Pepper Johnson. 

I was old enough to bet by the Giants’ next Superbowl trip in 1991, and even though the bet wasn’t big, it was everything I had.  It was a parlay on the Giants and the under that all hinged on the Bills wasting eight minutes on a fourth quarter drive down the field, and then missing a field goal to boot.  Which they did, and we spilled out to celebrate in the New Orleans’ night.  2001 was a Superbowl I’d like to forget, but can’t.  The Giants barely scraped there.  Even the coffee shop waitress serving our bacon and eggs knew that the Ravens would whoop their ass. But we marched down and bet them dutifully, because to not bet would have been a lack of faith and the Giants needed all the help they could get.  And then we collapsed on the floor of our Vegas suite and drank heavy to dull the pain.  Then there was the miracle of 2008, when we backed the Giants mid-season and only had to hedge slowly the rest of the way to watch Eli Manning make his destiny, the Giants win another Superbowl trophy, and the helmet catch etch itself into NFL lore.

But 2012 is different.  Everybody believes in the Giants, and for no reason at all.  Four weeks ago they believed in the Saints, three weeks ago they believed in the Packers, and two weeks ago they believed in the Patriots.  And now all the clever people are on the Giants getting just 3 points.  Something is wrong, something is rotten, and as much as I’d love to see them win the Superbowl, good money can’t follow.  So cousin Bobby, l won’t ask for your forgiveness.  I know I don’t deserve it.  But at -2.5 points, I think I’m getting ready to back up the truck and unload against the boys in blue. 


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4 Comments about Backing Up the Truck

mark atkinson says:

2nd of February 2012

i am also a long time giants fan, almost 30 years (now i feel old) i was lucky enough to go to superbowl 21 and seen the big blue win in pasadena, along trip from northern england!! i really do hope they can live up to the hype, too many people have jumped 'onboard' the rolling giants bus! as we say in cumbria Gan on Giants

Paul spillane says:

2nd of February 2012

I'm a clever idiot and I'm on the Pats. Hope that helps.

Messyjay says:

3rd of February 2012

It's easy to outhink yourself on this. What is the sound of one man betting?

Buck Naked says:

27th of February 2012

The main difference wasn't just the quarterbacks, it was the Giants defense. Don't ever bet against the home team. How did the Super Bowl turn out? I eagerly await you writing a follow up blog post!

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