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‘Deis’ view of Super Bowl XLII: No asterisk necessary

Like ’04 Sox, it’s hard to hate Giants

Published: February 8, 2008
Section: Sports


02070804.jpgImagine the headlines: “Super Bowl winning coach suspended,” “Perfect Pats slammed by league,” and of course, “19-0*.”

Thankfully, it won’t come to that.

By upending the previously undefeated Patriots and completing one of the most improbable and entertaining playoff runs in recent memory, the New York Giants ensured that we have a Super Bowl champion who legitimately won the game and the games leading up to it.

Going undefeated is such a rare accomplishment that the team achieving it should be free of scandal, and the Patriots are anything but. They were caught cheating early this season, in the infamous “Spygate” incident, and now allegations have been made that they filmed the St. Louis Rams’ final practice before Super Bowl XXXVI, which the Pats won despite being 14- point underdogs. The NFL, and Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Spector, are investigating the Pats’ cheating habit, and there’s a chance that Bill Belichick will be serving a suspension at the beginning of next season.

These are not the kind of stories the public wants or deserves to be hearing in the wake of an historic season. Look to baseball for an example. The career home run record has been rendered meaningless by the haze of steroid use that hangs over Barry Bonds, and fans outside of San Francisco are waiting for someone else (maybe Alex Rodriguez?) to come along and knock Bonds off his tainted pedestal. And good riddance.

At least with Bonds, though, the record can someday be broken. The same would not be the case with the Patriots, unless the NFL extends the schedule.

Do we really want a team that cheated to be in an unsurpassable position at the top of the record books? Do we want a permanent stain on perfection? I know I certainly don’t.

Of course, it would be a lie to say that the only reason I’m thankful for the Giants’ win is because of cheating allegations. Another reason is because the Patriots were…well, jerks.

Somehow, they took offense to the level of attention given to Spygate, and acted as if they deserved to win the Super Bowl because of the negative press directed at them. But Spygate wasn’t a minor incident blown out of proportion. The NFL hit the Pats with the harshest punishment that it has ever meted out. For the Pats to act as if they were the victims when, in fact, they were on the wrong side of the worst cheating scandal ever to strike the NFL is a stretch.

The cheating allegations, along with this “we were wronged” attitude, pushed every football fan who was not born and bred in New England into the Giants’ camp. I spoke to fans of both the Cowboys and the Eagles, at any other time sworn enemies of the Giants, who were swallowing their pride and putting aside NFC East animosity for the sake of a Patriots defeat. This was reminiscent of the support that the Red Sox garnered when taking on the Yankees in 2004.

In fact, these Giants resemble those Red Sox in a lot of ways, and had the nation coalesce around them for a lot of the same reasons. Both had goofy characters, emphasized teamwork, won in unpredictable and thrilling ways, and looked like they were having a good time doing it.

By the same token, the 2007 Patriots looked a lot like the Yankees. They were sullen, introverted and completely unentertaining. Just like Manny Ramirez, David Ortiz, and Johnny Damon captured the hearts of America, so did Michael Strahan, Eli Manning and Plaxico Burress.

Who could root against the Giants, when on the other side the most personality came from a terminally grouchy coach? Even Randy Moss turned into a drone while wearing a New England jersey.

And like the Yankees, the Patriots forgot that championships don’t come often and should be cherished. The reason that the Yankees (and Yankees fans) are hated is because they only care when they lose. Winning is seen as normal, not extraordinary. And the moment that you expect to win every year is the moment that everyone tries to stop you from doing just that, and then revels in your downfall.

The Patriots thought that winning was their right. The Giants, meanwhile, just thought that winning would be cool. So thanks New York, for showing the NFL’s evil empire that there is no nobility in sports. No one is entitled. And in the end, no one likes a cheater.