|Mark Sanchez and the Jets went 0-3 this season against their two biggest rivals, the Patriots and Giants.|
INDIANAPOLIS -- There are four types of Super Bowls that fans can experience in their lives:
» The one between two teams with whom you have no real rooting allegiance. That's the most popular.
» The one involving a team you actively root for and has you waking up with night sweats in anticipation of the game.
» The one involving a team you absolutely can't stand and desperately want to see lose.
» Then there's this one, the most uncommon of the group, one that comes around once every 25 years or so. (But in this case, for me, once every four years.) It's where your team's two biggest rivals meet, and for you, there are no winners.
For the second time, I'm getting the Giants and the Patriots. Last time, I was at least able to watch it on my television set. This time, I'm here in Indy with an up close look at both teams. I can't escape the colors red, white and blue. I thought I could escape writing about it, until my editor approached me the other day and said, "Hey, you know what we all thought would be fun? If you wrote what your week was like being a Jets fan and how these teams you hate are playing in the Super Bowl. Whaddya think?"
If you want to know what my travel to Indianapolis was like, click here. But since touchdown in Mellencampolis? Here's my story. And like the line from Varsity Blues goes, after you're done reading, you'll say, "I don't want your life."
Imagine in your everyday life, when you went to work, all you saw were pictures of your girlfriend's ex. Her incredibly good-looking ex. You saw the photos at your desk, in the lunch room, outside the bathroom, at the restaurant where you ate lunch. The waitress asks you your thoughts on him. (Because yes, at lunch, my waitress asked me who I was rooting for this week. I told her a tie.)
Staying at the media center hotel (the JW Marriott), of course I'm besieged with everything Giants and Patriots. The only saving grace is the banners of every NFL team that hang on the 2nd floor of the hotel. When I found the Jets banner, I leaped up to slap it. Sometimes I'm still 12 years old. That's when a security guard yelled at me to not do that and asked to see my credential.
My story assignment for Monday? David Tyree, hero of the 2008 game, as part of a "Where Are They Now?" series. So I get to spend the majority of my day reliving that catch. (I couldn't get Matt Snell?) I go to sleep and dream that somehow Santonio Holmes is making that catch, except after the play he berates Mark Sanchez for throwing the ball so high and wobbly.
I tweeted from media day, on the floor of Lucas Oil Stadium while players from both teams were talking. Thank goodness the crowd was made up of mostly Colts fans (some wearing "Save Peyton" T-shirts). But what happened was very unexpected, as I found a Giants player I'm now rooting for.
My former radio producer, Ali, is a huge Giants fan (like most of my family members, who keep calling to ask if I've seen Eli out at dinner). Ali asked me to bring her something back from the Super Bowl. The last thing I want to do is go buy a Giants souvenir and carry it in my luggage. So I get the bright idea to see if I can get a Giants player to call her on the phone to say hello. Before I can look around for candidates, DT Jimmy Kennedy sits down next to me to take a break from all the interviews. No one approaches him for five minutes, so I make small talk with him and ask him if he'd do that favor for me.
He says, "Sure, dial it up." So I call. She doesn't answer. It goes to voice mail. Jimmy says he'd leave a message. And he does. In a voice that sounds like velvet butter he says, "Hey Ali, this is Jimmy Kennedy. I wanted to talk Giants football with you, but you're not around. Oh well. Enjoy the game, Go Giants!" I find out afterward she was getting her hair done and didn't hear her phone, but she flipped out after hearing the message. So I have one less souvenir to buy, and one Giants player to pull for. Yin and yang.
NFL.com colleague Elliot Harrison came up and pointed out Giants legends Howard Cross and Carl Banks. I have to leave now. On my way out, I wanted to take a picture of the spot on the field where Braylon Edwards caught the back-shoulder fade to set up Nick Folk's game-winning field goal in the playoffs last season. I wanted to re-enact the catch with me leaping for an imaginary ball. But there was a Gatorade cart parked on the exact spot where Edwards came down with the catch. Come on.
On to souvenir buying. This was where the enormity of the Super Bowl hit me. The NFL Shop at the NFL Experience is 95 percent Giants and Patriots gear. It's a room as big as a high school gymnasium. I almost fainted when I thought what it would look like if it was Jets clothing instead of Giants. But now I'm overwhelmed. I can't find anything without the logo of one of the two teams on it. At one point I contemplate buying a pink woman's shirt, just because the only thing it said on it was "LOVE PINK." I look for items with solely the Super Bowl XLVI logo. I find a few. For myself, I buy an old-school Colts hat, because my head size is 12 and none of the Super Bowl hats fit me.
This was our first day of NFL.com Live at the Super Bowl. Dave Dameshek, Adam Rank, Elliot and I doing a four-hour show from radio row. It's really down to business now as we interview players like Amani Toomer and Adam Vinatieri, who remind me of the Jets' status in the AFC East and the city of New York, and Jay Mohr, a long-time Jets fan who says on our show he's no longer rooting for the team and is now a Ravens fan. At least I saw a guy in a Wayne Chrebet jersey roaming the area.
It hits me during the show that I'm going to have to root for someone on Sunday besides Kennedy. And I realize I'm pulling for the Patriots for this reason: I've seen them turn into a dynasty and win three Super Bowls, so what's one more going to do to me? I've been looking up at New England for 10 years now. What's one more? But if the Giants win? Then I'm looking up at New England and the Jets are back to being the little brother in New York. Sunday is a very big day, indeed.