This article has been submitted by Big Poppa Pump Trevor Smith.

Imaginary Player: Barksdale’s West Baltimore Edition

With the Queen’s Sports Industry Conference pilfering my entire life’s schedule last week, you, the loyal reader (ed: singular form intention) of this space were regrettably not treated to my superfluous yet scintillating ramblings last week. In order to correct this misstep, I will be live and in full effect at least twice this week. Yes, the containment of your excitement may prove impossible. Try not to strain anything.

Today we will fully examine the forty-second version of the great American game. The most over-exposed and promoted Super Bowl ever did the impossible: it managed to surpass the hype. 97.5 million people saw the Giants somehow make 18-1 a reality. The unbeatable Patriots were brought to their knees in a flurry of secondary blitzes and perfect execution by the New York front four. For one night at least, Eli F’ing Manning (!) was the finest player in all the land. No, really.

When considering and appraising the brilliance that was last night’s drama, it is only fitting that we pay homage to our time’s greatest drama, one that delivers a theatrical spectacle EVERY Sunday, Super or otherwise. I speak of course about the power and the glory that is The Wire, the most compelling, mesmerizing piece of television canon ever created.

“We don’t need to dream no more.”- Stringer Bell
The Giants, the 10-6 Giants, took out the most ominous opponent the NFL has ever seen. Behind a wing, a prayer, and a brilliantly executed game-plan, the G-Men did what most “experts” thought unimaginable. The general consensus was that this one may only be close until the first commercial break. The Pats quest for perfection left little room for game analysis, with the potential of an upset the furthest thing from anyone’s mind. Already we were debating the merits of 19-0 and whether or not this was the greatest team ever assembled. This was never supposed to be a game, but rather a coronation. Someone apparently forgot to tell Steve Spagnuolo and his troops.
If anyone fed into the theory that New York had no chance, it was Fox. The network went as far as to have a ridiculously over-the-top game introduction featuring notables reading the Declaration of Independence, as though the Patriots symbolized the greatest of American freedom and democracy. Yet the irony is that the Giants were the team that portrayed the ideal American characteristics on Sunday night: the spirit to overcome impossible odds, the will to believe in yourself and those around you, and the drive to never give up. Not intimidated whatsoever, the Giants immediately took the field and punched New England in the mouth with a nine-plus minute drive that announced to everyone that we had a football game on our hands. From there, their defense never let Brady and his receivers get into a rhythm as they inexplicably blew up the Patriots gaudy O-line play after play, blitz after blitz. By controlling the clock and not making fatal mistakes, New York continued to impose their will onto the game and use a page from Mike McDermott’s playbook. By earlier in the fourth, one could almost hear Belichick reciting KGB’s thoughts: “They just keep hangin’ around and hangin’ around…check, check, check, all night”. With eleven minutes to go, the Giants finally took back the lead for the first time since their seemingly month-long opening drive. That was when the Golden Boy, Mr. MVP, got his hands on the ball.

“Come at the king, you best not miss.”- Omar Little
Tom Brady has been the one difference that New England has always had since forming the Dynasty of the New Millennium (ed: Can someone please come up with a name for this decade already? It’s almost over and we have nothing still. During the pre-game shows the announcers still did not know what to call the Patriots the best team of and just went with The Team of This Decade. Honestly, let’s get Malcolm Gladwell on this thing already). Even while dressing as though he were at a GQ fashion shoot, Brady has always brought with him an attitude and temperament that borders somewhere between grit and Herculean. Simply put, he is the walking embodiment of Captain America, to the point that he should just change his name to Steve Rogers. With 2:46 to play, he did just what superheroes are supposed to by hooking up with Moss for what most thought was a game-sealing TD from the 6-yard line. Game over New York, thanks for coming, be sure to turn the lights off on your way out.

“The gods will not save you.”- Ervin Burrell
It was at this point that Eli Manning took the field, accompanied on either side by Lady Luck and her cousin Mistress Ass Fortunate. Needing 83 yards for the go-ahead touchdown and armed with three timeouts, Little Brother Manning connected with The Well Dressed Amani Toomer twice before Brandon Jacobs made the play of the game (to that point) by picking up a long 4th-and-1. On 2nd-and-5 from his own 44, Manning looked for David Tyree deep right. Enter Asante Samuels. The Patriots best defensive player got a clean break on the ball nine times out a ten would have made the interception that sealed the Giants fate and the Pats place as history’s greatest team. Apparently this was the tenth such time, as he missed the game-clinching INT (Insert joke about his hands being the reason he plays defense here). The play that immediately transpired will go down as the greatest moment in Giants history, as Eli escaped certain doom in avoiding the Pats entire front four to avoid the sack and then having Tyree make the most memorable and amazing catch of the year for a 32 yard gain at the Patriots 24. Four plays later Eli met up with Plax on a 13-yard fade-route with 39 seconds left and the Giants were SuperBowl Champions.

“The bigger the lie, the more they believe.” – Bunk Moreland
Clearly, we as the public miscalculated, misjudged and were misled. In short, we got it wrong. But where we all went wrong was not necessarily in thinking that the Giants had no chance, or that the game was a mismatch. Our misread on Sunday was in thinking so surely that Patriot perfection was more desirable and obvious than a New York upset. In losing, New England became infinitely more interesting and relatable. Their misstep reminds us all just how difficult even the semblance of perfection can be. As part of the ODC’s Super Bowl panel from last week, I evoked the ghosts of overdramatic sports movie speeches everywhere in writing the following:

“There are times in history where Goliaths run into the Davids of this world, those that find just the right amount of skill, opportunity, and luck to take down the strongest of opponents. Times where invincible units are overcome as much by circumstance as by the inextinguishable heart of their rival. Times when the world as one remembers that truly anything is possible to he whom is willing to try.”

That this was originally written sarcastically speaks volumes to my own inability to believe in sensational. Thank you New York for reminding us why we play the game on the field and not on paper. As for New England, just remember that sometimes infamy is greater than fame. Hey, no one is perfect.

This article has been submitted by Big Poppa Pump Trevor Smith.