Category Archives: Sport

Eli Manning Won’t Back Down

strahan_manning_080203_ia

Giants defensive end Michael Strahan thanks his quarterback Eli Manning after New York’s dramatic Super Bowl victory on Sunday.

They say New Yorkers love an underdog, so they must have really enjoyed Super Bowl XLII. The New York Giants’ wholly unexpected 17-14 victory over the New England Patriots in Ariziona on Sunday was certainly one of the greatest upsets in the history of U.S. sports. As has been well documented, the Pats were looking to achieve an unprecedented 19-0 winning season. Only one team — the Miami Dolphins in 1972 — has gone an entire season unbeaten, but back then there were only 16 games. The ’72 Dolphins had their own celebration party on Sunday night when the Giants kept that long-standing record intact, for at least another season.

Super Bowl Football

Opposing quarterbacks Tom Brady and Eli Manning exchange pleasantries before Super Bowl XLII.

The disparity between this year’s two conference-champions was refelcted best in their two wildly differing quarterbacks. New England’s Tom Brady is a ready-made all-American sports-star in the Namath/Montana mould. He has graced the cover of GQ, is dating Brazilian supermodel Gisele Bündchen and lives in the West Village. The Giants’ Eli Manning — the slightly dorky younger brother of Super Bowl-winning Colts QB Peyton Manning — is the antithesis of Brady. A traded draft-pick who had never quite convinced New York’s discerning and critical fans, Manning led the Giants to unlikely play-off victories in Dallas and Green Bay and ultimately to Glendale, AZ, where the streak was expected to end.

op85-2019

Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers rocked the halftime show with their classics hits “American Girl”, “I Won’t Back Down”, “Free Fallin'” and “Runnin’ Down A Dream”.

But as Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers reminded fans during the halftime show, “I Won’t Back Down” is a neat anthem for the American antihero. Manning must have taken note, as deep into the final quarter he created one of the most memorable plays in Super Bowl history. 14-10 down with 1:15 on the clock, Manning somehow wriggling out of a string of repeated sacks to fly a 23-yard pass to David Tyree, who completed a leaping catch by pinning the ball to his helmet. Manning then found wide receiver Plaxico Burress in the endzone for the winning touchdown with just 35 seconds remaining.

From my East Village apartment I could hear chants of “EE-LI! EE-LI!” in the street. Shortly after the game, Manning was elected MVP: Eli had finally arrived.

Advertisements

No Place Like Home

This weekend I experienced my first trip outside New York (not counting New Jersey, briefly), as I went to stay with Hillary’s family in Morgantown, West Virginia. I flew from JFK to Pittsburgh, where Hillary was waiting for me. There are three things I associate with Pittsburgh: Heinz Ketchup, the Steelers, and the movie Groundhog Day. What a thrill then to step off the plane and see a life-sized statue of ’70s Steeler Franco Harris, and a giant Heinz billboard. Hillary drove me around town, showed me her old house, visited the café where she used to work, before we eventually sat down to lunch at former Steeler Jerome Bettis’ Grille 36, in view of Heinz Field. I’d never seen such devotion to one team in a city before (perhaps Barcelona). Everyone was wearing black and gold, and as we walked the streets we heard the Steelers’ Superbowl anthem blasting from radios.

We were both amused by the new slogan which appears on a giant roadsign as we crossed the state line into WV: “WEST VIRGINIA: Open For Business.” This seems to have replaced the more fun-sounding “Wild and Wonderful” which still appears on the state license plates.

It was a strange feeling to be in an American family home. This felt like America — the country. New York doesn’t really feel like America, it feels like… New York. Morgantown is a very pretty town, and I spent the next few days enjoying the warm weather, drinking coffee at The Blue Moose Café, eating pancakes at Eat’n’Park, and marveling at the spectacular scenery of the Mountain State. On Saturday night we drove to Salem for an Applebutter Festival, possibly the most authentic experience there is to be had in West Virginia. I tasted funnel cake for the first time and admired the novelty license plates and belt buckles.

Last night I arrived back at JFK, where I was struck by the oddest sensation yet. I was now going home to New York, when just three weeks ago the very idea of going to New York at all would have thrilled me with excitement. Now West Virginia was a special occasion and New York was just… normal.