For years growing up lots of fans of the “older” generation(read: my late father and his cronies) would blast the notion of “wasting time” on attending a pre season NFL game. My dad would always say “this is your only chance this season to take your friends” or “I’ll give you some money for each of the pre season seats you sell, and you can afford to go and have a good time”(I was a teenager and it was the 1970’s).
He has his subliminal reasons. My dad used to publish something he called “The Sheet” or the “Game Sheet.” Since he was one of our street’s “involved” parents, he was the “Football Coach/Scout” of our block, and for the most part, our development (we grew up in NYC Housing back when it wasn’t a “stigma” or considered urban blight). “The Sheet” consisted of his observations on the up coming game and some briefs about the match ups between the teams. He typically passed them out at his workplace( a Federal Law Enforcement Agency where he would eventually become a supervisor).
This was in no way intended for gaming purposes. It was strictly for your enhanced enjoyment of the game. My father never dreamed of being a writer of any type. “Half these clowns writing about the teams for the papers don’t know squat anyway,” he would always say. “I know more about the team from one day a year at practice,” would always be his next line. It was also my “duty” as his first born son to “help” him by “taking those seats off his hands,” since he went to “every other game they were going to loose that season.” I would also have to take notes for him at those games, and since my handwriting stunk as a teenager, I would have to come home and type them (remember typewriters?) so he could read them.
My dad was fortunate enough that in his job he would have enough vacation time each year to take off a month, which was usually from the first or second week of August right through labor day. This was so we could attend the training camps of the Giants (first at Fordham University, then at Pace University’s main campus in Westchester, and later on we’d add a day trip out to Long Island for the Jets Camp).
This was so my father could “Scout” the teams, but little did i know he was also teaching me about the game. “Watch and Learn” he would say “and try not to run your mouth too much while i take notes.” Such was his manner, being an ex-soldier as well as a fed. What he was really teaching me was how to evaluate a player’s skill, and improve my communication skills at the same time. He was also teaching me that even though it wasn’t worth the extra time on his Saturday night in August to actually go to the Jets-Giants game when he “could stay home and watch it on his color TV and not spend extra money on concessions.” It was still important.
Tonight’s game has never been more important for both teams then it is this year, although Coach Coughlin will tell you as he told a group of reporters in training camp “It’s the Third Preseason game, That’s what it is,” as his way of downplaying the importance.
Both teams have a slew of unanswered questions coming into the regular season. The Jets have a new head coach, a new defensive scheme, and as of right now, a new starting QB. Questions abound with regards to weather this is the right choice. Some may think that the “we need to win now” theory applies here, but I’m not so sure. I also wonder if the Jets would have still made the trade for Sanchez if Brett Farve were still in N.Y. and healthy enough to get through this season. The Jets still have two other QB’s on their roster(three if you count WR Brad Smith, who only threw for well over 5,000 yards at in four seasons at Missouri). The Jets are also zero for the preseason again thus far, and last week the Wonderkid didn’t exactly look that good against the Raven’s first team.
The Giants have plenty of receivers to “pick up” the mantle so to speak, from Plaxico Burress and Amani Toomer, but no veteran depth at the position unless you count in David Tyree, who is on the brink of being released from the squad. They also have lots of gaps on the defense right now because of injuries, even though they had a very busy off season. Also missing from tonight’s line up for the G-Men are Antonio Pierce(foot), Chris Canty (hamstring), Michael Boley (Hip/ placed on Pup), Jay Alford (knee), DB’s Aaron Ross (Hamstring), and Stoney Woodson (ankle) and on the offense, Tyree (hamstring), RB Andre Brown (Achilles Tendon), and OL Orrin Thompson (Strained Quad).
While the Giants are Playing it down, we can be sure the Jets are playing up the rivalry, and looking for a confidence booster of a win tonight.