SUNDAY NIGHT SHOWDOWN at the BIG BLUE CORRAL
National Football League
N.F.C. EAST TITLE GAME
NEW YORK GIANTS
NEW YORK GIANTS FOOTBALL: Being Part of Big Blue's Family Means Always Carrying Around Our 86 Year History. And Sometimes, This Organization and It's History Makes Players Want to Do More.
Do you hear that? It's the sound of fear. If you heard nothing, that was precisely my point. There is nothing coming out of the mouths of the Dallas Cowboys this week. If you remember the last time these teams met, the Cowboys had a lot to say about the Giants. Among the things they said, they called Brandon Jacobs a bully. They wound up getting precisely that. With Ahmad Bradshaw still sidelined with his injury, Brandon Jacobs pounded out a 100-yard game against Dallas that for all intent and purpose, slapped them in the mouth. Today that mouth remains swollen shut.
Here we are again, about to play the biggest game of the season for each team. For one of these teams this game will be their last. And out of Dallas, I hear nothing. Tony Romo's hand/wrist is in questionable status, and I say so is Dallas' resolve. It struck me this morning. The Cowboys don't have the stomach for this game. Faced with a little adversity, I hear silence. After what Brandon Jacobs did to them last game, I hear silence. Going into Dallas' biggest game of the season, I hear silence. Justin Tuck launched the first and only salvo before this upcoming game in saying - "I hate the Cowboys!" - And I'm still waiting for a response. Did Dallas learn a lesson after last game? No. They just wreak of fear and despair.
The Dallas Cowboys are in a bind just as much as the Giants are with their Secondary. Terrance Newman and Mike Jenkins are as flaky as Aspen snow. Eli can, and should, have his way against them. But if Dallas cheats on coverage, and if Coach Gilbride has any kind of short term recollection, then The Bully should be let loose in his own school yard this time, and left to punk out all the little Cowboys again.
Dallas didn't want any part of Brandon Jacobs then, and they want no part of Brandon Jacobs now. Because they are soft. They are a coddled team. Jerry Jones babies them like ankles on a ballet dancer. The Giants are coached by Tom Coughlin, and so his players will be more calloused to adversity than the Cowboys aspire to be. Too many in the Media harp on Coach Coughlin's record over the last three seasons. Dallas' recent past is worse. And everyone knows it. And due to Tony Romo, Camp Dallas feels compromised. Bullies can sense that. And I hope Perry Fewell, and Coach Gilbride do as well.
This may very well be Brandon Jacobs' last regular season home game as a New York Giant. The one time Chipper-of-Helmets, and Wrecker of Safeties, is the Giants All-Time rushing touchdowns leader. He has more frolics into the end-zone than Frank Gifford; Joe Morris; Rodney Hampton; and the man he passed on his way to the top of the Giants' list, Tiki Barber. Brandon Jacobs isn't as beloved as he was in the days when he unseated Tiki as the team's featured back. He was truly a beast back then. But he has proven he can still run like an animal this season. And so I say let him. This game, for the NFC East Title, is set up to be one of the greatest swan songs the oft-loved, but now maligned football star can have. It's all set up for him. IF...! - Gilbride will let him.
The Cowboys need to show me they have the temerity to hang around today. I feel the Cowboys are ripe for a let-down. Once Tony Romo feels the pain in his wrist again, and Brandon Jacobs/Ahmad Bradshaw flatten their first victim, the crowd will get involved and Dallas will fold like a circus tent. By then, the head-game in a sense will be won. America's Team can then pack up and mosey on home to return their Star back to the Lone State.
This season finale is for the NFC East Division Title. - I tell you the other team is scared. The Giants are more scared of Tom Coughlin than they are of the Cowboys. To a man, Dallas' silence speaks volumes. The Cowboys' hollowness, and shallowness, is only outdone by the spaciousness of Jerry Jones Stadium. Over there, play on the field is second to the stadium, and of course Jerry Jones. He's the real star. That's why they will fail. The days spent living off the glory born from the trade of Herschel Walker to the Vikings have long passed the Cowboys by.
The Giants are an organization born before the days the NFL was ever formed. They bind generations together. They didn't buy their way into the spotlight like Jerry Jones. The Mara Family built this club from the ground up. Jerry Jones never met a microphone he didn't like. While John Mara only speaks when something needs to be said. His father was a ball boy for the original Giants Football Club. And everything I just said comes to the mind of every Giants player, coach, and trainer when ever John walks by, or his Mom is in the building, or when they pass a picture of The Duke on some wall in the stadium. There have been GIANT let downs before. And I don't know what the future holds because ya never know with sports; but there will be no let down today. Not if John is in the building. And if Mom, the matriarch of this whole thing is in the building? Fugheddaboudit! Mrs. Mara casts shadows upon Jerry Jones. And John? Well he's John Mara. Like his father and his grandfather before, this is his life. Jerry can't touch that.
That's what the Giants have going for them today! In times of trouble, when faced with adversity, the Giants always had the history of this organization, and the accomplishments of the Mara Family to ponder, and make so many players reach deeper inside themselves and give the uniform something more than which they though they could. You can't get that kind of thing from clip boards and game film. That sense of institution and commitment to it, permeates the air and rules the day in the Land of Giants.
The Giants have dominant and very secure personalities filling the most vital roles of this organization. John Mara is the supreme Alpha-Male of Big Blue. Having been raised in a Football Family, he is polished and perfectly suited for his role. Jerry Reese is a dominant General Manager in terms of his personality being stronger than that of any player's, or problems they present him with. Tom Coughlin is the ultimate Alpha-Coach. Nothing more need be said on that point outside of his players still wanting to respond and succeed for him. That in itself, is a testament to the overall organizational philosophy which starts at the top. Last time we met, Dallas played up to their home crowd with a lot of words. But this last week we've heard nary a word from any Dallas player. I take that as a sign of weakness and believe doubt has entered their mind. The Coach of the Giants thinks words are cheap and doesn't let his team doubt themselves. And thus, the Giants are a team moving forward while the Cowboys are a back-pedalling one.
Even to a man, Brandon Jacobs, an alpha-personality in his own right; - the man who is unruly at times; the man who every Giant Fan wanted to punk-out Rex Ryan and all his talk of this being a Jet Town; the man Giant fans booed and then he retaliated; and .....and so what? - Even that man has a mountain of respect for Tom Coughlin. Echoing words from last season's end, Coughlin always supported Brandon Jacobs. It was Coughlin who said at the conclusion of last season that the Giants needed to use Jacobs more.
After many years together through good times and bad, Coach and Brandon both have something to prove now.....as if. What does being a Super Bowl winning coach, and being the feature back in that title season, in addition to being the organizations all-time leader in rushing TD's get you these days? One is surely rushing towards the door after this season, and many in the Media are already pushing the other out too. So for both men this game is supremely set-up to slap-shut the mouths of a great many critic and critique. Both men can rise together like the Phoenix from a season nearly covered over and burried under rubble. In a place they haven't played particularly well in this season, both men can fix earlier season wrongs, and lead the Giants to an NFC East Title this Sunday night in front of their adoring Big Blue fans.
The future of this organization is not in question, for it will continue. I'm guilty as hell if I'm being charged with use of hyperbole and trying to put lipstick on a pig. After all, we're potentially talking about a 9-7 team here. The worse that can come of a loss are organizational questions, and organizational fixes. But because this is the last game of the regular season with the NFC East Title on the line, this game means everything to everybody today. For Tom Coughlin and for Brandon Jacobs in particular, tonight can be glorious, not to mention redeeming. And if in fact things turn out well for the Giants tonight, trust me, John Mara won't be seeking to spew bad breath into the nearest microphone like Jerry Jones no doubt will. He'll quietly go back to his office and say to himself, - Don't worry Pop, I gotcha. Then maybe even share a toast with his Mom when they get a chance.
At the 2007 Super Bowl parade, I was positioned in the front rows across Trinity Church. When the float she was on passed me with her positioned on my side of Broadway, I cheeringly singled her out and pointed, and mouthed "Thank You!" to her. She noticed me and shouted back, "No, Thank You!"
Yeah; It's just a game. But to be a Giants Fan means to think about all these things and how they all factor together to create GIANTS FOOTBALL. It's a big game that means a lot to many people all for different reasons. So, in the spirit of Giants Football and everything Big and Blue and good with this organization...
Let's Go Giants!