Like Your Worst Nightmare.
Your team loses. It's like a kick in the stomach. You're nauseous; you can't eat, it's impossible to get to sleep. You replay the game over and over in your head – how could they have lost that game? It just doesn't make sense.
You feel like kicking
the dog and putting your foot through the television when the highlights
come on SportsCenter. The phone rings, you don't want to answer it because
the last thing you need is Barney, the Eagles fan from down the block,
adding insult to injury.
The kind of loss that makes you want to walk into the office Monday morning and fire someone. It puts a "leave me alone, I don't want to talk about it" look on your face that you just know is going to last until Friday.
On November 19, 1978, the New York Giants were about to seal a victory against their arch-rivals, the Philadelphia Eagles. I was too young to drive, so the only way for me to get to East Rutherford, New Jersey was by bus. A royal pain in the butt, but (usually) worth the effort.
On this day, with the game in hand, my friend Owen – I'll call him Owen because, well, that's his name - headed toward the outgoing buses a little early just to beat the rush. So there we were, readying ourselves for the torturous ride back from the Jersey swamps to Manhattan giggling with glee after a satisfying win over the hated Eagles.
Thankfully – in hindsight it would have made the ride a little easier if he hadn't – someone had a radio so we could listen to the final moments of a big win while we made our way back to the Big Apple.
Giants quarterback Joe Pisarcik – on what should have been the final play of the game – attempted to hand the ball off to Hall of Fame running back Larry Csonka. Well, if you follow the Giants at all, you can probably guess what happened next.
The ball fell to the turf, and Herm Edwards – you know, the Jets' head coach – picked it up and scored the winning touchdown. To this day, nobody in the Giants huddle can figure out why the coaches called for a running play. And I've spent many sleepless nights wondering the same thing. Why? Why?
But, lately, I've been wondering why I spent so many sleepless nights agonizing over a football game. So much more was going on in 1978 with which I should have been concerned.
Heck, I finally made it off that bus and back home and the best thing on TV was Battlestar Gallactica. The number one song on the radio was Donna Summer's "MacArthur Park."
Jimmy Carter was still trying to figure out what to do about the gas shortage – that odd-even thing really wasn't working out the way he expected. And I had mid-terms coming up.
So why did the outcome of a football game seem so important? Why does it still 26 years later? I don't know. It just does.
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