Feb 01, 2012 Neil Benjamin Jr. Uncategorized
It’s the classic New York vs. Boston sports hatred. In Major League Baseball, the Yankees and the Red Sox have the most heated rivalry in the game. On a smaller, yet just as poignant scale, is the Celtics and Knicks.
But in pro football, there is not much of a traditional rivalry between New Englanders and Big Appleans. In 2007, a huge step toward the National Football League getting its own version of the craziness happened when the New York Giants pulled a monumental upset by defeating and deflating the New England Patriots and ending their undefeated dream campaign.
This Sunday the Patriots will try and exact revenge on the team that did the unthinkable in Super Bowl 42.
Locally, there are a lot of Giants and Patriots fans, young and old. There’s one household in particular that will be jumping during the big game. Catrina Powers is the mother of 8-year-old Freddy and his 9-year-old sister Brianna. Both are your typical preteens, focused on school, homework and being with their family.
However, Catrina may have her hands full during the Super Bowl. Freddy is an enthusiastic Patriots fan who loves to wear the jersey of former Patriot running back Laurence Maroney. Brianna, not to be outdone, is usually an Indianapolis Colts supporter, but says she has a little crush on the Mannings, so she’s all for Eli and the Giants.
Mom had better watch out on Sunday.
“They tend to go at it a lot both watching football and doing anything else,” Catrina said. “They like to argue about everything.”
Brianna isn’t much for words, except when the topic of Eli Manning comes up.
“He’s cute,” she said. “The Giants are going to win.”
Taking those words as the opportunity to start an argument, Freddy immediately pipes up.
“No way. The Patriots are going to kick some butt,” he said, tauntingly. “There is no way the Giants are going to do it.”
While the youngsters are just beginning to realize the rivalry, other central New Yorkers are zoned in.
Take Jamie White for instance. The 27-year-old communications director for Syracuse First moved to Syracuse from the Boston area four years ago. He’s very much the consummate New Englander: He loves the Patriots and Red Sox. He also remembers very well the way he felt after the Giants stunned New England in 2007.
“I watched the game at a friend’s house here in Syracuse,” the graduate of UMass-Amherst said. “They were all Giants fans. Needless to say my life was pretty miserable being around them.”
While some Pats fans will tell you there isn’t much in the way of revenge on their minds, White is pretty honest.
“As much as a lot of us say we aren’t thinking about revenge, it’s definitely on our minds,” he said. “I mean, 18-1 is a lot different than 19-0, and that’s not something you can just easily forget.”
Instead of hoping for a blowout Patriots victory, White said he wants something a little more sadistic.
“I want to rip their hearts out like they did to us,” he said. “A blowout wouldn’t be as fun as seeing a close, three-point victory on a late drive.”
On the flip side is Ben Johns, a 24-year-old Syracuse native who currently works as a translator. Johns represents the Giants fandom, and became that way by following in his family’s footsteps. His father and grandfather were both big supporters.
The 2007 game was one that turned into a lasting memory for reasons other than football for Johns.
“I watched the game with my whole family, my dad, mom, grandpa,” he said. “It was such a great night I’ll never forget.”
That’s because it would be the last time he’d get to watch the Giants in the Super Bowl with his father, as he passed away in 2009.
“I can’t even tell you how ballistic we went when that game was over,” he said. “When [Giants receiver David] Tyree made the catch, we went nuts. It was a memorable night.”
Like White, Johns doesn’t want a blowout victory. He also wants to win his bet.
‘I’m betting my buddy who’s a Patriots fan,” he said. “If I lose, I think I’ll have to put a picture of Tom Brady as my Facebook picture, and I definitely don’t want that.”
Neil Benjamin Jr. can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.