Hermie the head elf called Santa on his cell phone. A letter had just arrived in the mail, a late Christmas list from Giants Stadium, and Hermie was in a panic. How would he fill the list in time? It was Christmas Eve. Santa was just hours from takeoff and this hadn't been the smoothest of holiday seasons. The overtime budget already was shot, and the elves were talking to the ELF-CIO about unionizing in time for next year because Santa had been stingy with the raises and had demanded steroid testing.
Santa was jolted from his nap, and the caller ID told him who was on the other end.
"Hermie!" he screamed into the phone. "Didn't I tell you not to call me during the day? You have to wait until 7 p.m. when my minutes are free. My cell phone bill looks like A-Rod's contract."
"Don't worry, Santa. I signed us up for Horn Plan," Hermie said. "You can call anyone at any time from anywhere, even the end zone of the Superdome, and it only costs you $30,000. Santa, we've got trouble."
"What, did Bill Romanowski punch and eat one of the reindeer again?"
"No, Santa, I just got a Christmas list from Giants Stadium. It arrived late. I can read the postmark. It was sent several weeks ago. Somehow it got mixed up in the mail."
"Who sent it?" Santa asked.
"Uh, it says ‘Kerry Collins' on the return address on the outside of the envelope."
"Well, then, I'm guessing it was intercepted by the Eagles," Santa said. "What does the letter say?"
"Let's see … blah, blah, blah, seems he wants a few new head of cattle …"
"For his ranch?" Santa asked.
"No, for the new offensive line," Hermie said. "Um … he says that because it's been such a tough season for the Giants, he wants us to be extra good to his teammates."
"Extra good to those bums? Listen, it won't be that hard to give them what they deserve. I know just the thing."
"What's that, Santa?"
"Santa, Kerry has a list of things here," Hermie said. "I don't know if we can fill this in time."
"Get Pennington the elf on it," Santa said. "Nobody runs the two-minute Santa offense better than him. And God, I love those little pointy ears of his. You know, he looks a lot like you, Hermie."
"Will do, Santa. I'll keep you posted."
Within a few hours, the Giants' gifts were being packed onto the sleigh as Hermie and Pennington went over the final check list.
"Okay, Hermie. Here's what I've got: A stapler for Ron Dayne."
"A stapler?" Pennington asked.
"Yeah, for his stomach."
"Hey, you think Dayne's going to stay around when Tom Coughlin takes the job? I saw in The Giant Insider last week that Dayne is hoping a new coach means a second chance for him with the Giants."
"That guy has been snorting Cheez Doodles dust again. Not going to happen," Hermie said. "I hear Coughlin is a taskmaster – no earrings, no jewelry and no Mr. Softee breaks during practice. I don't think Dayne could make it through training camp under those brutal conditions. Besides, I heard Dayne wants to play in the Arena Football League."
"Why, because the fans are closer to the field?"
"No, because the concessions are."
"Okay, who's next?"
"Mike Barrow. What do we have for him?"
"Lubricant … for the final game of the season."
"Check. Hey, Hermie, why would a guy who's supposed to be so religious try to compare a loss to a rape?"
"Because sooner or later, when you talk as much as he does, something stupid is going to come out."
"You're right," Pennington said. "Next is Michael Strahan."
"Directions to Canton."
"Okay, but let's make sure John Abraham isn't driving the limousine. Next?"
"Kerry Collins," Hermie said. "He gets a voucher for a legitimate second-string quarterback."
"Yeah, the Giants need one badly. Tony Orlando had better backups than Collins. Hey, you think the Palmer kid can play in the NFL?"
"Not that I've seen," Hermie said. "Ever hear the kid talk? He's like an auctioneer on crack."
"Now, I have a bunch of stuff here. Check ‘em off: a bottle of Bufferin for Ike Hilliard, radar for Cornelius Griffin so someone can find him, a gift certificate to Party City for Keith Hamilton so he can plan his retirement bash and a Mike Pope doll for Jeremy Shockey to take to bed every night …"
"You think the Giants will keep Pope just to make Shockey happy?"
"I don't think John Mara or the new coach is going to let players start picking assistants."
"Good point. For Dorsey Levens, we have one of those big foam hands with the finger sticking up. What's that for?"
"So he can say goodbye to Fassel," Pennington said. "Hey, wait a minute. What finger is that?"
"Never mind. What else do you have?"
"Some diapers for the offensive line … why is that, because they're young?"
"No," Hermie said, "because the Saints made them soil their shorts. These guys are horrible. And, c'mon, the last time somebody gave up a sack to Bruce Smith, Wellington Mara was riding a Big Wheel in his driveway."
"Paint for Dhani Jones. Is he going to do a portrait?"
"No, he'll be giving Coughlin's house a couple of coats to avoid being cut next season. I've got the last one: Mel Kiper's book for Ernie Accorsi and the Giants' scouts. They could use it. I wouldn't let those guys pick a dodge-ball team in gym class."
That night, as Santa made his delivery at Giants Stadium, he could hear the team gathered in the locker room. Jim Fassel was reading "Twas the Night before Christmas." He was about halfway through when team VP John Mara stuck his head in the door.
"Jim," he said, "you're fired."
"Okay, John, but can I finish the story?"
"Sure, Jim," Mara said.
After Fassel was through, defensive coordinator Johnnie Lynn performed his usual rendition of "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer."
"You know Dasher and Dancer and Prancer and Vixen," he sang. "Comet and Cupid and Donner and … and … and …"
"Blitzin'!" the Giants shouted in unison.
"Darn," Lynn said. "I always forget about Blitzin'."
Santa making his Giant list and checking it twice
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