Being a typical middle-aged sports fan, I’ve watched all 46 Super Bowls and will be joyfully viewing No. 47 on Sunday night. Since the New York Giants aren’t playing, I don’t really care which Harbaugh brother wins, though I am rooting for a close game. (Blowouts like the San Francisco 49ers' 55-10 romp over the Denver Broncos at the Superdome 23 years ago are boring as hell.) I’ll be over at my best friend Tony’s house and we’ll be eating all kinds of terribly delicious food that will no doubt take years off our lives and that alone will make this one of the best Super Bowls ever.
Because for me, who I watch the game with has always been more important than who’s playing in it. To back up this claim, let me point out that the Giants won both the best and the worst Super Bowl games I’ve ever seen.
The worst was just last year, when the Giants beat the New England Patriots 21-17. I had invited a small group of friends to my Brooklyn apartment and each was going to bring a homemade dish. Unfortunately, one of those friends had just learned that her husband wanted to end their seven-year marriage, so in deference to that fumble, the party suddenly became even smaller — just her and me.
She cried from the opening kickoff, ruining the guacamole with her salty tears, and we both sat sadly on my couch as the Giants went up 9-0 in the first quarter (“He’s such a stupid jerk!”), only to fall behind 17-9 in the third quarter (“This has been a complete nightmare!”) and then miraculously come back when Ahmad Bradshaw scored the decisive touchdown (“I wonder if he ever really loved me”). I’m still not 100 percent positive that the Giants really won.
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The best Super Bowl I’ve ever seen was 22 years ago, Super Bowl XXV, the Giants vs. the Buffalo Bills in Tampa, Fla. Like last year, I had planned to watch it with a small group. But my wife, a new mother, was exhausted and went to bed, so the party became even smaller — just me and our son, Robbie, whom we had recently adopted.
We had just returned home from Joplin, Mo., where we had witnessed Rob’s birth and were still amazed and overwhelmed that this new baby boy was now in our house. It was the best thing that had ever happened to my wife and me (we would go on to win again two years later, when Zach was born) and I understandably had a good vibe about the game.
I held Rob in my arms from the opening kickoff and sat happily on my couch as the Giants traded field goals with the Bills in the first quarter (“I love you, little boy!), and then each team scored a touchdown in the second (“I think someone just went potty!”), only for the Giants to fall behind 19-17 in the fourth before regaining the lead 20-19 (“Dude, this really isn’t the best time for you to take a nap!”), setting up one of the most dramatic finishes in Super Bowl history.
With eight seconds left, the Bills placekicker Scott Norwood prepared for a 47-yard field goal attempt that would win the game. I remember standing up and carrying Rob over to the TV while shouting, “No way! No way! No way!” When the football sailed wide right and the Giants won, I shouted again and again, “You did it! You did it! You did it!” as I danced around our living room, holding Rob like a tiny football.
Until he started to cry. Which made me cry.
A moment later, my wife came into the room, saw us and we all cried together. She and I knew exactly who had won.