I haven't been a huge football fan since Roger Staubach retired to a real estate empire and major Republican donor status, but who couldn't love the Giants' upset win on the frozen tundra of Green Bay (to quote the late, great Art Rust, Jr. one more time)? Reeling from Merrill Lynch's $10 billion loss and the sure-fire disaster year for all of Wall Street, New York's looking into another economic abyss the size of the 1970s. So the Giants' trip to the Super Bowl is a much-needed elixir for this town, a spot of flaming rum punch against the drab winter afternoons. The game itself was one of those rare classics, set at minus-4 degrees with the cold smoke of a northern plains January shimmering from mouths and noses.
Watching from the comfort of my modest room, I worried for Tom Coughlin's skin, Archie Manning's fatherly pride, and kicker Lawrence Tynes' sanity. Yet they pulled it out, forcing me to record the first of the epic Jane Austen series on PBS, Northanger Abbey, on my handy PVR, for viewing at another time. Now, in two weeks, the Super Bowl, with the undefeated - but hideously-uniformed - Patriots versus our Giants (yes, I'm the bandwagon now). And with Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers at half-time, I can close my eyes, listen to the music, and pretend old Roger the Dodger will be lining up another Navy jump-pass against the Steel Curtain back in the late 70s.
Speaking of that formative decade, what wonderful news that Jim Wolcott has agreed to write a memoir of his days stage-side at CBGB and other sordid venues, and for none other than Gerry Howard, boarding as he put it, "a graffiti-choked IRT train into the untamed past."
For more on the Jints, take a ride into my untamed pass by reading the terrific Giants blog penned by my one-time sports editor Ernie Palladino of the Gannett Westchester papers. Back in the day when my prose was thin and my waistline thinner, Ernie was the gruff, elder statesman on a late-night sports desk in White Plains, tossing out baseball columns and wisdom about deadlines with both authenticity and profane humor. He must have been all of 30 at the time, but he reminded me of those black and white movie Marine sergeants played by Van Heflin cursing about those God-damned college boys.
I mentioned earlier that the New England uniforms are horrendous, especially given the quality of the team. Yesterday's Giants-Packers tilt at Lambeau showed what good sports design is all about, combining nostalgia and the record book with rock 'em, sock 'em action in high-def. For more on NFL style - and uniforms of all shapes and sizes - there is no more obsessive blog than UniWatch, the Project Runway of professional sports, presided over the Paul Lukas, who captured yesterday's living color tableau (another Rustian term) perfectly:
Could any true football fan of a certain age who watched the Packers/Giants game last night honestly say that their enjoyment wasn’t keenly heightened by the mere sight of those two iconic uniforms doing battle against the freezing backdrop of Lambeau Field? The way the colors and logos so vividly hearkened to championship games played by these same two teams in the NFL’s glory years lent an inescapable air of nostalgia to the contest and a powerful sense of the sport’s past being present, a feeling that all too often seems lacking in this day and age of the league’s generally wretched marketing aesthetic.