I had an epiphany yesterday. As I sat at home watching RedZone, knowing that the Giants would never come across my screen, I was the most relaxed that I’ve been on any football Sunday this year. Even when the Giants aren’t playing, I’ll usually follow the rest of the NFC East or anybody in the Wild Card race to see if Big Blue can get some help from the scoreboard. But this week? Couldn’t care less. Doesn’t matter at all.
And you know what? It felt sort of freeing. I spent the week describing to friends how looking at the Giants’ record this year is like looking at one of those far away pictures of Earth that make the entire planet seem so tiny and insignificant. There’s a certain peacefulness that comes with the knowledge that the team’s efforts for the rest of this year are completely futile. I don’t have to scoreboard watch on Sunday. And more importantly, I don’t have to go crazy over every little moment of Giants-Vikings tonight or any other game the rest of the year. I can watch, I can cheer, and if it doesn’t work out for my Giants, I can get over it.
Now, I realize that the Giants’ recent run of success enables me to feel this way. Since Eli became the full-time starter in 2005, I can’t remember the Giants playing a single meaningless regular season game (I guess that depends on how you feel about the last regular season game of 2007 v. the Patriots, but it certainly wasn’t meaningless in the same way). Even the few years we’ve missed the playoffs, there has always been some wacky combination of events that could have happened in Week 17 to help us sneak in. That and two Super Bowl victories along the way make it easier to keep things in perspective.
Also, I honestly don’t believe that this is the start of a long rebuilding process. The Giants still have a talented core and competent management, and play in a division without a true juggernaut. That and a high draft choice should return us to contention soon.
But for this year, for a team that’s closer to earning the #1 overall pick than a playoff spot, it would actually be most practical for a fan to root for the Giants to lose each game from here on out. My fandom won’t allow such treason, so instead I’ve decided to keep rooting for the Giants, but just to chill out about it a bit. Watching football is probably still fun when your team’s not good. It must be. So tonight, I’m going to relax, watch some football, and try not to take it too seriously. That’ll probably last until about kickoff. Let’s go Giants!