I underestimated New Yorkers. There has never been a doubt in my mind that New York City is a great sports town, but until I witnessed the New Yorkers’ celebrations of the Giants’ Super Bowl win, I hadn’t an idea of the degree to which they love their teams.
After the upset win on Sunday night, I quickly jetted out of my downtown Manhattan apartment with one of my roommates and subwayed (yes, New Yorkers have their very own verbs) up to Times Square, the heart of Manhattan.
Although Times Square is usually overrun by national and international tourists, on this night, New Yorkers rejoiced in the streets to chants of “18 and 1!”, “18 and 1!”, “Let’s Go Blue!”, and something that rhymes with “Muck the Pats!”. Despite the foul language, the dozens of cops on horseback, and the general bravado and machismo of a group of mostly 20-35 year old pumped-up – and probably liquored-up – males chanting and cheering at the top of their lungs, the “event” was a controlled chaos.
It was obvious that not only relief spread through the crowd. After all, you just know Giants fans were relieved that Strahan and Toomer finally got their rings. Relieved that Coughlin didn’t seem so insane after all. Most importantly, relieved that Eli Manning proved that the Giants will be stable at quarterback for a long time. It wasn’t just relief though, as much as it was pure joy. It was the kind of joy only sports fans who have celebrated championships, after unpredictable and tense games, can understand.
Super Bowl XLII wasn’t a blowout. Giants fans didn’t have all game to emotionally prepare for their inevitable victory. They won a hard fought, well-played battle that held a ridiculously high amount of suspense from start to finish. And once the game was over and the win started sinking in, Giants fans started experiencing the greatest emotions any sports fan can imagine: unadulterated happiness.
The following night, I was at the Knicks-Clippers game in Madison Square Garden. It was my first time at the “Mecca of basketball,” so I was excited to take in the history of the venue and buzz of the crowd. Unfortunately, the stink of the Knicks has developed into this indestructible odor that sucks the life and passion out of the Garden crowd.
However, between the third and fourth quarters, the scoreboard hovering above the court showed Sam Madison and R.W. McQuarters sitting courtside and the roof immediately blew off the top of the building.
I have been to many games at Dodger Stadium, a few at Staples Center, and a few more at many other arenas and stadiums, including Shea and Yankee Stadium. I had never experienced a crowd grow so loud, so quickly. It was obvious the Knicks didn’t matter, because the crowd was giving Madison and McQuarters a taste of how proud they were of their Giants.
The next morning, the Giants paraded through the Canyon of Heroes, a stretch of Broadway in lower Manhattan that took them up to City Hall. I only reached the end of the parade, but there must have been close to half a million people on a 15-block stretch of Broadway and its surrounding streets.
My first thought was “Man, think of all the money lost from these people playing hookey with their jobs.” But that was quickly followed by a thought that I think says it all. There are no guarantees the Giants will ever win another Super Bowl, so maybe Giants fans should take a couple extra days and let their collected tension release into the New York City air. Their team is the champion now, and a little piece of them are as well.