Dear Eli: A Thank You Letter

Dear Eli,

As we seem to approach the end of an era I find myself experiencing a combination of feelings. Most notably last Sunday, when we had 4 thand goal for the go ahead score, I noticed within my heart, for the first time in my life, a subtle desire to see the Giants lose.

Sports is about competition, not only between the teams on the field, but also the fans in the stands, in the lunch rooms on Mondays, and social media for the rest of our lives. We want for our team(s) to be the best, as well as our guy(s) to be the best, and when we can discover some synchronization between statistical evidence and emotional wishes… well, it’s lovely.

It wasn’t that I wanted (or ever want) the Giants to lose last week, and the new QB seems relatively likeable, talented and promising. But we all knew what it would mean (and meant) when he crossed that goal line to take the lead. It meant I might never see one of my favorites to ever do it do it again. The player I credit with reigniting the franchise I’ve followed since childhood, then bestowing me with two of the greatest days of my life, especially 42. Now all of a sudden, some guy I never met before wins some routine game in Tampa, and on an otherwise pedestrian Sunday night I am once again faced with my own mortality: That change is inevitable, father Time is undefeated, and all of the other clichés to describe the sad reality that everything we love will one day be lost.

The other part of my disappointment was typical sports fan ego. Most of us in New York have loved you so much and appreciate all that you’ve given us, not just in bragging rights but the all too taken for granted element of weekly entertainment predicated on annual hope for potential success. For this, I guess I was rooting for one last piece of evidence to prove your critics wrong. He’s not done, he’s still great and has always been great. And who knows? This is sports. Anything’s possible; but for the meantime their chants have been apparently vindicated.

Nevertheless, I’ll always argue against the water cooler philosophy hacks (mostly fans of NFC/AFC East teams), whom over the years have criticized your lack of enthusiasm relative to other quarterbacks on the field, and idiotically misinterpreted your calm demeanor as indicative of a lack of fire or passionate leadership, ironically questioning whether you were tough enough for the league while you hold the second longest streak of consecutive starts in NFL history.

What I imagine these morons don’t realize is that we probably wouldn’t have earned our two latest rings if not for your cool demeanor. Sure, you’ve had some tough years and your share of bloopers, but in crunch time, when it matters most you’re one of the best I’ve ever seen do it. Similar to Derek Jeter, an uncanny ability to mentally tame the moment, to focus and not over-react to any isolated instance or play until the last second was off the clock. This kind of equanimity is a gift, in my opinion relegated mostly to older souls who tend to be misunderstood by the muggles and masses that mindlessly circle around cubicles and rely on the greatness of others as their sources of both entertainment and self-definition. Such calm is a personal quality I myself am envious of, as my temperament probably more closely resembles that of the quarterbacks your critics most covet. Although if given a shot, I doubt I’d achieve two consecutive starts in the league or ever record a first down. But I’d do plenty of cursing and screaming, ranting and raving… in pain.

I grew up in New York to a father who had grown up in New York before the Jets were even a thought. My dad bled Giants’ blue and held two season tickets from the time he got his first job out of college in 1956 to when those nasty seat licenses were implemented in 2008. His disdain for the Cowboys and Jets respectively was obviously only magnified between 1969-’79 when they each had so much success and we had so much of the opposite. I started going to games as a six-year old in 1984, but my earliest clear memory of fandom was being bundled into my snowsuit by Mom in January of ’86 and staying to watch the bitter cold end of our trouncing the Washington Redskins for our first ever Super Bowl birth. I remember looking up and seeing huge leaves of toilet paper suspended in mid-windy, freezing air over the field as the 70,000 fans went ape shit with excitement, tossing beer and confetti over each other with reckless abandon. I’d never seen anything like it before. Dad kept me safe, and I loved every minute. Finally, we were the best.

That team obviously had a great run, but most of the 90’s were mostly disappointing, and it wasn’t until your arrival that we were back. Thank you for bringing us back! Thank you for at least a decade of good football, of annual hope and invested interest in cheering for my dad’s team, now my brothers’ and my team. We lost Dad two years ago, maybe appropriately just as the team was beginning to struggle; though maybe also a case of chicken or egg, as I did inherit my aforementioned temperament from the old man (he loved you, but he cursed you out a lot too), and I’m sure watching some games wasn’t always so good for his heart.

Thank you for always doing your best — for being a class act — for being so respectful, genuine and likeable (to anyone with any I.Q. in the three digits). By the way, the reason idiots are indifferent to such sincerity of character is because they’re unable to distinguish it from its opposite. Most of all thank you for that deep-seeded, magically unflappable calm that doubled the amount of Lombardi’s on our resume and crushed Boston fans’ hope of having what would have been the greatest bragging rights in the history of any sport. It was just three years after the Red Sox broke the curse and Yankees’ fans hearts in the process, and three months after they’d won again and solidified their position as the presently superior team in the rivalry. 19–0 would have been just too much to swallow. Instead, “18–1” will forever taste like sweet buttery, delicious cake for the soul. That was one of the last games I got to truly enjoy with my father before his mind started to go, in the direction of his aching bones, heart and joints. Thank you so much.



Originally published at

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