Giants fans have plenty to be thankful for

The universal list of most tortured sports fans generally includes Jets loyalists, Cubs fans and until recently Red Sox and White Sox fans. Giants fans don't usually draw, or demand, a sympathetic chord from outsiders.

And yet Giants backers possess a special brand of sports paranoia. They aren't nearly as pathetic as Jets fans, who act as if Joe Namath delivered that upset around 1500 BC, and not a mere 3.5 decades ago. Nor are Giants fans whiny like Cubs and Red Sox fans, quick to invoke curses as the cause of their misery.

No, Giants fans are more measured in their approach. They simply know, without making screaming calls to talk radio, that their team will become dangerously inept at the first hint of success. In other words, the giddiness associated with the Giants' fast start was balanced by a prevailing sense of gloom.

It's why several Giants fans knew their team was doomed the second they read, compliments of an inane columnist, about their team's Super Bowl potential. The Giants celebrated the column's appearance that day with a perfectly horrific game against Minnesota. You can imagine the influx of you-jinxed-us e-mails that followed the loss.

My defense, though, was that nobody should have been especially surprised at the Giants going down to Minny. If the Giants were fulfilling a long-standing pattern, they also were summing up the balanced/inept (pick one) state of the NFL. It's the basic credo that most everybody stinks and a few teams stink less than the others.

No reality-based Giants fan should have expected his team to win every gimmie on the schedule. That said, the Giants – barring major injury losses against Seattle – are as equipped to make a Super Bowl run now as they were heading into the Minnesota game.

That's part of the good news, which I'm certain you are eager to read in this space. But if you still refuse to believe such a claim, consider all the cheery aspects of being a Giants fan that you probably took for granted. With Thanksgiving just behind us, what better time to realize your fortune as a fan of Big Blue.

You folks, after all, should be thankful for:

…not being Jets fans. You think those were tough losses to the Cowboys and Vikes? Try losing your "franchise" quarterback, Pro Bowl center and any chance of making the playoffs before Turkey Day. How many days 'till spring training?

…having a general manager in Ernie Accorsi who held to his convictions to – anyway, anyhow – add Eli Manning to the Giants' roster. Manning will have the Giants in a Super Bowl or three, guaranteed, before throwing his final pass into that swirling East Rutherford wind.

..having Manning. You continue to focus on Manning's inaccuracy and youthful flaws? Would you rather Trent Dilfer take over the offense? Or Kelly Holcomb or J.P. Losman? How about Gus Frerotte, Kyle Boller or Joey Harrington? Capece?!

Plaxico Burress and Accorsi getting together on a contract after a breakdown in negotiations the first time around. Burress is to Manning what Marvin Harrison is to that other Manning. Burress has helped accelerate Manning's progress while turning the Giants' offense from good to exceptional.

…Accorsi and the Maras deciding on coach Tom Coughlin. I wanted to see them go with Charlie Weis, who at last check is doing pretty well at that school in Indiana. And, let's face it, Coughlin won't make anyone forget Groucho Marx.

But for pure coaching prowess, Coughlin is one of the top five sideline generals in the game. There are some bad coaches out there – sorry Mike Tice – but also many good ones. Coughlin is one of the very best, No. 3 on my list behind Bill Belichick and Bill Parcells.

…having Michael Strahan. He comes to work each day like he's chasing his first Pro Bowl berth, not his seventh.

…having solid ownership. How many teams are a product of bad owners? In passing away recently, Wellington Mara and Bob Tisch left a sturdy foundation that will be secured by smart offspring holding belief systems similar to the patriarchs. Giants owners always will be motivated to put the best team on the field – period. Thus, free agents won't be ignored as part of cost-cutting; there will be no threats, idle or otherwise, to move the team; and fans generally will have a stronger voice than perhaps every other base in the NFL.

…not having Terrell Owens on your team. Never mind that Owens helped Philly get to the Super Bowl last year. He helped destroy the team this year.

…not being Jets fans. Did I mention that one? This tormented group of people must watch their Jets play at Giants Stadium. Is that any different than the Mets playing at Yankee Stadium? But then, Jets and Mets fans are linked through logistics and pain.

..your team's not named Houston, Arizona, New Orleans or Cleveland – four franchises that never win and show few signs of doing so in the near future.

So being a Giants fan isn't all that bad now, is it? Your team just played for the Super Bowl title in 2000, and could get there again this season. Your boy wonder quarterback will reach elite status within a season or two. Your skill-position players are relatively young.

And, maybe best of all, you don't have to watch your team play at Jets Stadium.

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