My Super Bowl Dilemma

This column was originally published on on Jan. 11, 2011.

I hate football. Not really, but the Giants are giving me no choice.

Two weeks ago, I asked for three things for Christmas. I asked for the Yankees to produce something that resembles a starting rotation that can compete in the AL East, the Giants to make the playoffs and for the Knicks to land Carmelo Anthony. The Giants were eliminated from the playoffs on Sunday, and the Yankees are thinking about bringing in Jeff Francis or Jeremy Bonderman to round out their rotation. Carmelo might as well just get traded to the Nets or Bulls now and put me out of my misery.

I wish I could have been in the locker room prior to the Giants-Packers game and delivered the pregame speech for the Giants. It wouldn’t have been like the speech in Rudy when Rudy gets up on the stool and starts with, “We’re gonna go inside, we’re gonna go outside, inside and outside.” It would have been more like the famous Bobby Knight halftime speech (which you can find on YouTube uncensored), highlighted by the line, “You will not put me in that position again!”

Well, the Giants put me in that position again. That position is being on the outside looking in on the NFL playoffs for the second straight year.

Tom Coughlin will return in 2011 in search of a three-peat of collapses to unseat the Mets as the worst late-season team in the city, but hopefully with him, Plaxico Burress will return. I’m not sure what Plaxico can bring at the age of 34 and having not caught a pass in the NFL since Nov. 16, 2008, but I do know that the Giants are 20-18, including their only playoff game, since he last appeared in a game for them.

While Brandon Jacobs was busy packing up his equipment in a trash bag and giving Bruce Boudreau a run for his money with F-bombs as he cursed out photographers, Giants fans are forced to watch the playoffs without a horse in the race … a race that includes the chance for many hated franchises of mine to win it all. I’m forced to sit and watch the NFL playoffs for the second year in a row as a spectator while my Jets fan friends and Patriots fan friends get to actually participate. Good thing there’s beer and point spreads.

Someone will win Super Bowl XLV, but it won’t be the Giants. The scary part is it will likely be a team that I don’t want to see win the Super Bowl. And because the Giants aren’t going to The Dance, I have to sit back and think of which team I would want to take to The Dance with me and which team I would rather leave at the front door waiting for me to pick them up for The Dance.

It wasn’t easy, but I was finally able to sort out the 12 playoff teams from which team I would most like to see win Super Bowl XLV to which team I don’t want to see win at all. Here it is:

1. Colts
I’m a Peyton Manning fan and a year ago I was certain that Peyton Manning was going to win his second Super Bowl and solidify his place as arguably the greatest quarterback ever. Then there was that Pierre Garcon drop, the onside kick and the pick six, and Peyton left Miami with as many rings as his brother.

Peyton is now 34. He isn’t retiring tomorrow, but he also isn’t getting younger and is running out of time in his prime when he will be as dangerous as he now. If he can’t win it this year, it’s just another year closer to retirement for him, and another year with just one Super Bowl to his name, and that will keep him out of the conversation as the greatest ever.

2. Chiefs
It would just be weird if the Chiefs won the Super Bowl, but hey, it’s better than a lot of other options.

A Super Bowl would bring Kansas City some sort of happiness since their baseball team hasn’t for a while and likely won’t for a while. It would be a nice story if Matt Cassel wins and will likely cause crazed sports radio callers in Boston to argue that the Patriots should have never gotten rid of Matt Cassel, no matter how insane that sounds. And if you think I’m kidding, you have never lived in Boston. Go Chiefs!

3. Seahawks
Who knows why Randy Edsall left UConn the way he did? But he’s a college coach and with college coaches, you can’t be surprised when they do sleazy things. Enter, Pete Carroll … the poster boy for sleaze.

Carroll had so many NCAA violations that the NCAA gave USC a two-year bowl ban and eliminated 30 football scholarships from the school. And when Carroll sensed the NCAA closing in to bring the bill, he said he had to go to the bathroom and left USC with the check. I don’t feel bad for USC, but what a stand-up guy Pete Carroll is!

Part of me wants the Seahawks to win it all because it will just be an absolute joke if a 7-9 team wins the Super Bowl. But the bigger part of me wants the Saints to beat them 67-3 to prove how much of a joke it is that a 7-9 team can make the playoffs. And I can’t help but think of Pete Carroll during his postgame press conference on Sunday night saying how proud he is of his team and sounding like Rex Ryan by being ecstatic over an accomplishment that isn’t worth celebrating.

All I know is in Week 9 when the Giants embarrassed the Seahawks in Seattle, I thought Charlie Whitehurst might never watch another football game for the rest of his life let alone play in one that would send the Seahawks to the playoffs. Now he might start a playoff game, and if he wins a playoff game, I think I’m done with football.

4. Falcons
I’m very protective of Eli Manning. I’m like the parent of the kid that all the other kids pick on. And truthfully, you shouldn’t feel that way about your franchise quarterback, but that’s life as a Giants fan.

Matt Ryan hasn’t won a playoff game, but he didn’t bring the Falcons to a 13-3 record this season, and the hype around him rivals the hype around Aaron Rodgers. And there isn’t a non-Giants fan that doesn’t think Ryan is better than Eli. That’s fine, but I hope the Falcons go down because of it.

5. Bears
I promised I wouldn’t say another bad word about Jay Cutler if he beat the Packers in Week 17. So what did he do? Oh, just throw a pick in the red zone and another to end the game. Nothing major.

Here I’m nervous that Lovie Smith might pull the plug on the game and not start Cutler or take him out early and ruin the Giants’ chances. I have never been so angry to not see Todd Collins in a game I needed to win because the way the Bears defense played, I think they would have won the game if anyone other than Cutler started.

When the Bears were 3-0 and the Giants embarrassed them in Week 4 and forced Cutler and Collins out of the game and Caleb Hanie had to take snaps, I thought, “That’s the end of the Bears.” But they somehow managed to win eight more games. But I can’t root for a team the Giants crushed and a team that let the Patriots come to Soldier Field and blow them out by 29 points.

6. Steelers
I have never liked the Steelers in the least bit, and that was before Ben Roethlisberger finally got caught for being such a good role model. There’s no way you can pull for Big Ben if you aren’t from Pittsburgh.

7. Ravens
I’m still not over Super Bowl XXXV. I’m still not over disliking Ray Lewis or Terrell Suggs or Joe Flacco’s unibrown.

8. Saints
Of course the Saints would barely beat the Falcons on the road and then lose to the Buccaneers at home in Week 17 to close the back door to the playoffs for the Giants. Of course.

The Friday before the last Super Bowl, I wrote:

“But should the lasting image of the 2009 NFL season be the visor-wearing Sean Payton embracing Jeremy Shockey? Is seeing New Orleans win its first Super Bowl enough to want Jeremy Shockey to win a Super Bowl? Is the Saints getting their Walt Disney-like win worth knowing that Jerry Reese’s trade of the disgruntled and disrespectful tight end worked out in New Orleans’ favor? No, no and no.”

The same holds true for the 2010 NFL season.

9. Packers
My distaste for Green Bay has grown in recent years and after the embarrassment against the Giants it is at an all-time high. If you combine what the Packers did to the Giants with the national lovefest for Aaron Rodgers, it’s enough to make you sick. How about we let Aaron Rodgers win a playoff game before we put him in the same conversation as Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and Drew Brees?

I’m not really worried about Green Bay winning it all because their running game is just embarrassing. And I know this because after Ryan Grant got hurt, I was forced to pick up Brandon Jackson in fantasy football, and Jackson was so bad that I will never play fantasy football ever again. Aaron Rodgers didn’t need to get a concussion against the Lions, but the Packers kept running the ball against a terrible secondary for some reason, and then why Rodgers tried to run the ball himself, he got popped. It wasn’t until Matt Flynn came into the game that the Packers started to throw the ball, and nearly beat the Lions and then the Patriots because of it.

One question: Do you think FOX will let Joe Buck wear his Aaron Rodgers jersey under his suit for playoff games, or is he only allowed to do that for regular season games?

10. Jets
I don’t like thinking about a Jets parade and J-E-T-S echoing through the city streets. It would be like the Mets winning, and maybe even worse. I have spent a lot of my life despising the Jets and here I’m making a list of the order of which team I want to win the Super Bowl, and they aren’t even last. Richard, what’s happening?

But how fun it would be listening to Joe and Evan after a Jets’ Super Bowl win? Probably fun enough for me to actually pull for them if they play either of the next two teams along the way.

11. Patriots
It was a hard decision to figure out which team I wanted to win less between the Patriots and Eagles, and I nearly turned to my friend’s Magic 8 ball to make the decision for me.

There is no way I want the Patriots to win the Super Bowl. None at all. I would rather walk across the George Washington Bridge naked, during rush hour, while it’s freezing rain than see the Patriots win. But if they do win, I understand. They’re 14-2 and the No. 1 overall seed. They have the best coach and the best quarterback in the league.

However, a Patriots’ championship would put a serious damper on the possibility of adding more chapters to The Last Night of the Patriots Dynasty book that I plan to write with Mike Hurley.

12. Eagles
This is my nightmare!

The Third Annual Eagles Devastate My Life Party was even more of a gongshow than the first and second. 31-10. 8:17 left. Why? Whyyy? Whyyyyy?

There are no redeeming qualities about the Eagles. I’m not a Mike Vick (hat tip to Cris Collinsworth) fan like the rest of the country and there is nothing to like about DeSean Jackson’s Broadway shows in the end zone. I wish Andy Reid had gotten run out of Philly along with Donovan McNabb and there is something that makes me angry when Reid puts up one finger for the extra point when it’s obvious the Eagles wouldn’t be going for two in the situation (I know a lot of coaches do this, but only when Reid does it, does it make me mad).

Before the Packers game I wrote:

“I don’t think you can have your wife cheat on you, take all your money and find out your kids aren’t really your kids and decide to get back out and start dating the following weekend. It just doesn’t work like that. And I don’t know if the Giants can come back from such a devastating defeat and win in Lambeau Field this Sunday no matter what Antrel Rolle says or guarantees.”

And unfortunately, I was right.

Philadelphia already took Cliff Lee away from me. They aren’t going to win the Super Bowl. They can’t.