Three is always the charm

Every team in the NFL must be fuming that Roger Goodell couldn’t make stick the accusation/rumor/certainty that the New England Patriots cheated their way through the playoffs last season (and probably had done it for the last dozen or so years).

Every team, that is, but one: the N. Y. Giants.

I root against the Giants, but in 2008 when they were about to face Tom Brady in the Super Bowl, I felt pretty confident that the so-called G-men were going down. They didn’t go down. Instead Brady was forced to throw 48 passes, the Pats scored two touchdowns when they should have scored two dozen, and for the pièce de reśistance, David Tyree caught one of Eli Manning’s passes with his helmet: Giants 17; Pats 14; me, sick.

In 2012 came the rematch and I felt pretty confident that the so-called G-men were going down. (Did I say that already?) But Brady’s deflated pass missed Wes Welker and the Giants went 88 yards against a Patriot defense that had apparently elected to ignore the information they stole from the Giants locker room: Giants 21, Patriots, 17. Me? Since I hadn’t recovered from the nausea of 2008….

You can’t write a piece like this without a theory, so here’s mine: the Giants playbook is such a mess that stealing it does no good. “They have this play,” Pats coach Bill Belichick might have said, “where a guy catches the ball on his helmet. Relax guys, looks like another Super Bowl ring.”

Right prediction; wrong team.

Tonight the Patriots begin the defense of their title against the Pittsburgh Steelers, long-time rivals. Some minor items: the Patriots’ LeGarrette Blount will sit this one out for for violating the league’s drug policy; Pittsburgh’s top running back Le’Veon Bell is serving the first game of a two-game suspension for violating the league’s substance abuse policy; and Steeler receiver Martavius Bryant also starts his four-game ban for violating the drug policy. Minor.

Of interest also, Roger Goodell will sit this one out, opting to stay out of the hornets’ nest that will be Foxboro. He’ll watch it on TV instead and be able to tweet others on his favorite banners and signs. There should be some good ones—I don’t think they’ll be complimentary. Goodell, whose stock this month has dropped more rapidly than the Shanghai exchange, should learn from his NHL counterpart, Gary Bettman who, year after year, appears at center ice as disenchanted fans of some losing team cascade boos down upon him. Bettman, unmoved, just smiles and goes right on talking. Perhaps he gained this knowledge during his time at Cornell University and New York University School of Law, at the same time learning not to rush to judgments nobody would or could support.

Meanwhile the Giants—remember them?—probably need only a wild-card finish and another February date with New England to guaranty Eli Manning a spot in Canton. They did it the last two presidential-election years—how hard can the third one be?

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