Dear the NFL and powerful TV executives: I have a humble request. I think I’ve always been a pretty good Giants fan and loyal customer. As a child I waited on line at a Kiddie City to get Ottis Anderson’s autograph. I owned an Eli Manning jersey, and it was even one of the better knockoffs because I simply respect The Shield that much. I once even went to an actual game, despite the obvious misery inherent in getting to East Rutherford, to say nothing of being there. These are my bona fides. I provide them in supplication, for I come seeking a favor: Please, out of the goodness of your heart, I am asking you to stop putting my football team on national TV.
Oh, it was an oddly thrilling game, last night’s 30-29 walk-off win for the Washington Football Team that saw five lead changes and ended on a Dustin Hopkins 43-yard field goal. It was entertaining in that way that halftime baby races are entertaining: unpredictable, largely inadvertent, displaying a distinct paucity of basic motor skills. It was your typical modern-day NFC East fart-off, a “Thursday game” no matter what day it takes place, a close-run thing where the winner is not necessarily the team that bumbles the least, but rather doesn’t bumble last. I suspect the ratings will be strong, which is part of the problem. Because I’d really rather not have anyone else see this.
It’s an embarrassment, being a Giants fan for the last decade, but at least it’s usually a private one. In unmixed company we can hope against hope that our coach isn’t an obvious dummy who thinks running laps is a substitute for instruction, and that our GM knows anything about modern football. We can pretend, if just among ourselves, that the version of Daniel Jones who looks decent three times per season is realer than the one who can’t throw the ball past the sticks during the games in between, and that it wasn’t an all-time unforced error to draft a running back second overall. We know deep down these things are probably not true, but they’re all we have. And when other NFL fans watch our team, we lose even those and receive naught but mockery in exchange. Is that fair?
Let me give you an example, or rather four, in the form of a quiz. This quiz is for people who did not watch Thursday Night Football. I’m going to list the four and only four moments all game where I got excited and didn’t regret staying up to watch, and your task is to guess how the Giants biffed each, as biff them they did. (Science confirms that lifelong Giants fans will answer all four correctly by pure Lamarckian instinct. Don’t feel bad if you, the unaffiliated fan, don’t have the creative perversity to go 100 percent.
1. Daniel Jones turns on the jets and scampers 58 yards for a touchdown!
2. Darius Slayton sheds his coverage and is wide open in the end zone for a 43-yard bomb from Jones!
3. The Giants, down a point with two minutes and change left, pick off Taylor Heinicke deep in WFT territory!
4. Washington’s Dustin Hopkins pushes a potential game-winning 48-yard attempt wide right as time expires!
And now, the answers:
1. The sixth-string wide receiver gets flagged for holding a defender that wouldn’t have gotten near Jones anyway, nullifying the touchdown. The Giants would settle for a field goal.
They would settle for a field goal.
3. The Giants call two rushes into the teeth of the defense, then a short slant that wouldn’t have picked up a first down even if completed. They run just 16 seconds off the clock and settle for a field goal.
How’d you do? And do you feel a little bit sick in the soul? Congrats, that’s New York Giants football. This sickness is leavened only by learning to laugh at things like the new star wideout yelling at his QB on the sideline and the hotshot young receiver fuming over being targeted zero times.
The Giants inexplicably have two more national games this year, both MNF contests, against the Chiefs and the Buccaneers. If there is a saving grace it is that neither should be close enough to need to tune in for the second half. It is, I am realizing as I type, probably not the healthiest version of fandom to hope for blowouts so bad I’m allowed to turn off the TV, but that truly is the best-case scenario here.
I’m so tired. Physically tired, from staying up to watch my idiot team do idiot things when I could have been snug abed, but also spiritually tired of seeing the Giants do this (if not exactly this-this) all the time. So, NFL and TV honchos, I ask you not for pity but for mercy: You have the power to spare me! You can end this! Keep the Giants where they belong, on Sunday afternoons, when I can flip to another game, or, like, go for a walk. When a brutal loss won’t ruin my entire evening and next day. When I won’t be mocked by friends, coworkers, and loved ones for an allegiance I didn’t choose. Let me experience my shame in solitude, as God intended. Don’t let anyone see how I live.