This has become a sad routine in New York for the past few football seasons. Sunday at 1:00 p.m. Giants fans and Jets fans reluctantly retreat to their matches on Fox and CBS.
It has to be said here: This is one of the horrific byproducts of football. Football in New York was so awful that the networks regularly did the unthinkable at one point: stash both teams early, make head-to-head battles, and put away their games, so they can free up the 4:25 p.m., time slot A game of squash.
And this is the thing:
Who complained about it? You are? your friends? your neighbors? anyone? Not only were the giants and planes bad, they were on the edge of the border unseen. They just stopped enjoying watching them from afar. And if football in New York is all you watch… well, God bless you. Because, to put it nicely, it’s a burden to be crossed.
To put it mildly: This makes you think of becoming a fan of cricket.
Here’s the thing, though: If you get to 4:25…well, something will happen. Suddenly you get this amazing lineup of teams—Kansas City, Buffalo, Tampa, Green Bay, Dallas, Seattle (and now Denver), San Diego, Baltimore, and Cincinnati—lined up late Sunday afternoon, on NBC Sunday-night window, or on Monday Night Football. On ESPN…
And for a damn if I hit you like a 2×4 for an old coconut:
Football can be really fun.
Football can really catch you for hours at a time, every week from early September to early February, and the games can be filled with wonder, true excitement, and legitimate entertainment. There is one reason for that, of course. Football can be a complex game, filled with dense playbooks and packages of complex formations and strategies. But at its most basic level, there is one thing that makes football attractive.
Good quarterback. Honestly, it’s that simple. You watch Patrick Mahomes, Aaron Rodgers, Joe Burrow, Lamar Jackson, Josh Allen, Dak Prescott, Tom Brady, Russell Wilson, or Justin Herbert – especially after watching the fantasizing parade that are currently polluting the one o’clock games in New York – and you feel like Ben Hogan the first time In which he saw Jack Nicklaus playing golf up close:
“He’s playing a game I’m not familiar with.”
Out of town, they’re playing soccer which we’ve been unfamiliar with in New York since Eli Manning was in his prime, and since Mark Sanchez was running the Jets for the first two years of his career. Yes, there are plenty of other parts of the game that make football, and that make the NFL the TV to watch. But you start with the midfielder.
In New York, we experienced twitches from Daniel Jones, especially early in his tenure as Manning’s successor. We’ve seen a glimmer of Zach Wilson, when He’s not stuck in a whirlpool. We’ve got hints here and there that maybe – maybe – our teams can join the fun parade. But what we’ve seen less often than that.
“At the end of the day, there’s offense going through the quarterback and he should be the one for you,” Giants coach Brian Dabol said earlier this summer.
“You can always tell if a guy is confident,” said Robert Saleh, the Jets coach, around the same time. “And our man has that confidence.”
It’s one thing to say. It’s another thing to do. Jones is more on the clock this year than Wilson because he’s two years ahead of him on development scale, and the Giants will surely make a decade-defining decision this year about whether or not he’s their man. But Wilson He has some questions to answer, very. One is essential: can he stay on the field? But the other is just as compelling: once he hits the field, can he perform at a level very similar to what the planes expected him to do?
These are essential elements if the dark darkness of football in New York can be shaken off. See around the game. Look around you in the league. Look at the playoffs in Asia Forever last year, Mahomes and Allen trade straw makers at Arrowhead Stadium, literally right into the final gun. See what a good midfielder can achieve. In the last sentence he wrote, Reed Smith mused: “Someday there will be another Joe Dimaggio.”
New York football fans have another wish. Someday, there will be another Eli Manning. Someday, there will be another Namath atmosphere. One day, professional football will not be a wasteland here, hidden at 1 am, it is better to get the trash out of the way quickly.