“I want you to get on your feet, I want you to make some noise, I want you to get ready to stomp somebody out and welcome the New York Giants, Super Bowl Champions.”

 –Michael Strahan

I. Preliminary Thoughts on The Game

You have to be somewhere between pleased and very pleased with Thursday’s game. 

Yes, the offense went into the tank during the second half.  As is often the case, we left ourselves vulnerable to a comeback, which the Redskins, with their West Coast Offense not yet fully installed, happened not to be capable of making.

And for all the good things Eli did, he still did a bunch of bad things that showed he hasn’t turned into Peyton during the off-season.

As they always have, the Giants won ugly on Thursday, a trait that being Super Bowl champions will not change.

But the game provided an encouraging early answer to the biggest question mark going into this year.  Our pass rush was just fine without Osi and Strahan.  If the Tuck/Kiwanuka/McDougle combo is not a significant downgrade from the Osi/Strahan/Tuck combo, we should, at absolute worst, be almost as good as we were last year.

And if we improve in the other ways that all of us are expecting – Eli making The Leap, a healthy and potentially dominant Plax, a much better secondary, a better command of Spags’ defense – we should be significantly better, barring injuries.

More specifics on the game will follow as I pour over the game-tape.  In the meantime, here are some miscellaneous thoughts.

 

II. Strahan’s Pre-Game Thing:

How awesome was that?  And what would I have given to be at the Meadowlands?

A lot has been said about Strahan since he retired, so I’ll only add this:

While his outsized, eccentric personality is somewhat un-Giantlike in the traditional sense, winning the ‘Bowl has made him one of the most beloved G-men of all time.  Good for him.  His big ego and gaudy sack totals – both on display in the record-breaking Favre-sack in 2001 – masked his completeness as a defensive end and as a balls-out, team-oriented player.

(I should note that it was originally reported that he made $75,000 for his appearance, but both Strahan and the Giants denied this.)

In New York, for better or worse, you almost have to win a title to validate your career.  If the G-Men had been knocked out last year against Dallas, I think there’s a chance that Strahan might have lived the rest of his life as an underappreciated all-time great.  Fair or not, immortality almost comes only with the ring.  And now Strahan has it.  Could this have been predicted during his holdout last year?

 

II. Some More Thoughts on the Pre-game Intro:

–Spike Lee needs to stop getting credit as “the quintessential New York sports fan.”  He isn’t.  I’ll give him credit on the Knicks – it’s clear he loves them – but that’s it.  As far as football and baseball, he’s been documented to have worn the jerseys of the Giants, Jets, Mets, and Yankees.

The first rule of being a New York sports fan is rejecting the fallacy that it’s possible to be a “New York fan.”  It isn’t.  Being a sports fan is a monogamous relationship – if you don’t love one team and one team only, you don’t love any team.

–For those of you wondering, the Giants of Super Bowl years past who took part in the pre-game ceremony were: Harry Carson, Stacy Robinson, Karl Nelson, Brad Benson, Billy Ard, Howard Cross, Rodney Hampton, O.J. Anderson, Carl Banks, and Mark Bavaro.  Great job by those guys.

But no L.T.?  No Simms?  Kind of a bad job.

 

III. Giants Fans

Strahan referred to Giants fans as being “by far the best fans in all of sports.”  Frankly, I disagree.

When I was growing up in the ‘80s and ‘90s, it seemed like the Meadowlands was an intimidating place to play.  There were the winds, the tough D, and supportive fans who intimidated other teams with their deep-throated, thunderous New York passion.

But for a while now, and especially during the Coughlin era (pre-Patriots regular season finale last year), it seems Giants fans have become an easily-quieted, early-to-leave, and an overall counterproductive bunch.  Before the December 29th of last year, the fans took a distant, judging, and antagonistic attitude towards the team. 

And the team realized this.  Let’s be clear: The whole Antonio Pierce-led “Nobody respects us mantra” isn’t directed at the national media, but much more the local media… and the fans.  The “Road Warriors” mentality was borne out of the G-Men feeling unloved in their own home.

Now, a lot of the scorn the Coughlin-era Giants received since the promise of early 2005 has been warranted.  The team had been maddeningly inconsistent, and until last December 29th, they always could be counted on to fade down the stretch.

Here’s hoping the upshot of last year’s run is a love-affair with this team, rather than an entitlement complex.