Saw This Coming a Mile Away

I've got to tell you, the best seat in the house felt like an electric chair for most of Sunday's spine-tingling NFC Championship Game.

The tension, the voltage was intense watching the Giants and Packers play one of the most gut-wrenching games in recent history. When Brett Favre's hand is on the switch you can't help but squirm in your seat.

If you had something invested in the outcome – and why would you be reading this if you didn't – the pain was great, the pleasure was beyond compare.

But, that's life, right?

Hey, I told you back in October that the Giants and Patriots would be playing in the Super Bowl. Here's what I said in one of my early columns this season:

"I've already also discovered something about game-day timing. I know that I can eat, run for groceries, cut the grass and negotiate world peace and still arrive home in time for the kickoff of the Giants-Patriots Super Bowl in February."

So, I don't want to hear Antonio Pierce and Plaxico Burress saying everyone doubted the Giants. I told my wife Sunday afternoon that they were going to win. Go ahead, ask her.

Why was everyone so worried?

So now, as we prepare for the greatest Super Bowl ever played, I find myself filled with various emotions that I simply need to share.

For instance:

I am thrilled for Ernie Accorsi, the venerable former Giants GM, who now can rest easy. His faith in Eli Manning has been validated. His promise to the late owners, Wellington Mara and Robert Tisch, has been kept. Ernie's quarterback will take the Giants to the Super Bowl and his place in Giants history is secure.

I am extremely happy for the Mara and Tisch families. They now have their own championship team to relish. Hopefully, John Mara can stop pacing now.

I am proud of Eli Manning, who found a way to push aside the criticism and disappointment to find a way to become the efficient leader the team needed. I don't think I've ever seen him look happier than he did on television after Sunday's victory. Wow, back-to-back Mannings in the Super Bowl. That is absolutely amazing.

I am tickled for Tom Coughlin, a man of resolve, whose style I've often quibbled with. He's always been a great football coach. And if he's now found a way to combine his tactical brilliance with interpersonal compassion for those who play for him and must work with him, I celebrate the evolution and congratulate him on the fat new contract he's going to receive.

I also wish I could be in the audiences of the daily Super Bowl press conferences he must hold to see how he handles the repetitive questions that have always aggravated him in New York. I can't wait for some comedy show producer to ask him what kind of conditioner he uses for his hair.

I must admit, I feel very badly for Jeremy Shockey, who deserves to be able to play in this Super Bowl. He's been a great Pro Bowl player who has dealt with many frustrations in his career. This would have been his showcase. Watching this from the sideline is going to kill him.

I'm not so concerned about Mathias Kiwanuka because I feel he's going to get his chance to play in a few more before he's done.

I wonder how Tiki Barber feels today. It's always nice to feel wanted and missed when you leave. But the Giants made the Super Bowl without him, which should teach us all a great lesson about sports. No one is indispensable.

I am excited about the future of the great corps of Giants rookies, who played major roles in the playoffs. Ahmad Bradshaw, Aaron Ross, Steve Smith, Kevin Boss, to name a few, helped spearhead this marvelous run.

I am gratified this team will have a legacy almost as great as the undefeated Patriots by becoming the first NFC team to win three straight road playoff games, the first NFL team to win 10 straight road games. Both accomplishments are nothing less than remarkable.

I feel great for defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, who took a major career risk by leaving the comfort and safety of Andy Reid's staff in Philadelphia to join the Giants during an uncertain time. His career path is now laid and I can only hope he doesn't rush off to coach the Falcons. Something better will come along.

I feel a great sense of pride in my home boys, Kevin Gilbride and Chris Palmer, former Division II players and head coaches in Connecticut – Southern Connecticut and New Haven – for doing their part in getting Eli to play the way he did this season.

I personally want to thank Plaxico Burress for one of the greatest clutch performances in the history of the NFL against Packers defensive back Al Harris. The dude was unstoppable.

I believe there will be no turning back now for Corey Webster. Fortune provided him a second chance to make a first impression this season and his performance in the postseason seems to have justified the faith the Giants originally had in him.

I thank goodness that Lawrence Tynes had a third chance to make a game-winning field goal – and that he made it. I can't imagine what life might have been like for all of us if he'd missed again.

I would imagine R.W. McQuarters will be invited to ball-handling class with the Giants running backs next season.

And most of all, I feel sorry for myself. Covering a Giants-Patriots Super Bowl would have been a career highlight, something with a little more juice than the Providence-UConn women's basketball game I will covering the night before.

But that's show business.


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