Dear New York Jets and Baltimore Ravens:
Well, I guess this is it. After more than 33 years, they’re gonna start taking me down next month.
I can’t believe it, but I’ll soon be a parking lot for this shiny new Meadowlands stadium right next to me, over here.
Me, Giants Stadium. Ground broken on November 19, 1972, and opened on October 10, 1976, when my beloved New York Giants hosted the Dallas Cowboys before a sellout crowd of 76,042 fans.
Thirty-three years may not seem like a long life to you guys, on the New York Jets or the Baltimore Ravens, I suppose.
After all, a lot of you younger players will still be playing after that age, and I hope all of you will live well beyond the 89 years that the great Wellington Mara — rest his soul, the man most responsible for having me built — spent on this earth.
Stadiums like me though, built in the 1970’s, don’t last nearly as long. I’ve lived my life, and I’ve accepted my fate.
Sure, I wish I were built a lot earlier, and lived for the eight-and-a-half decades that the old Yankee Stadium up in the Bronx lasted, or at least for the 44 years that Shea Stadium over in Queens, was around.
I won’t last as long as those stadiums, but I have no regrets.
I’ve hosted some great things and wonderful people here, and even some events I never thought I would.
College football. The Cosmos. Pele. The Pope. Men’s and women’s soccer world cups. The New Jersey Generals… You know, to this day, the last USFL game ever played was right here?
And, great concerts… my all-time attendance record? 84,472, just a few months ago, September 9, 2009, for a U2 concert. You shoulda been three, it was great!
Yup, all of that and much more at yours truly, Giants Stadium.
I’m sure I don’t have to tell you though, that my proudest memories are of the NFL games.
My Giants won three Super Bowls while they played here! Two NFC Championship games, won by a combined score of 58-0, right on my field. So what if the second one was on that field of painted mud, as they called it.
The most NFL games ever played in one place? Guess where. You’re talking to the very venue itself.
LT revolutionized the game here, and I brought along Phil Simms, who I’m very proud to say still holds the record for having the most accurate passing day (22 of 25, for 88 percent) in Super Bowl history.
And, the sack record, first broken by a Jet, and then by a Giant.
Michael Strahan, from I-AA Texas Southern, getting the NFL’s all-time single season sack record here, even if Brett Favre fell down to gave it to him, breaking the record held by Mark Gastineau, main member of The New York Sack Exchange.
And Jets, don’t think I just forgot all about the Monday Night Miracle.
Haha, I remember everyone filing out of me to their cars with you guys trailing the Miami Dolphins 30-7 in the fourth quarter, on October 23, 2000 (incidentally, the 24th anniversary of my first college football game, which saw home state Rutgers trounce New York’s Columbia, 47-0, in 1976, for the Scarlet Knights’ 14th straight victory at the time).
Then, all of those Jets fans started coming back inside, as you turned the tables, outscoring the Dolphins by that same 30-7 margin in the fourth quarter, alone. And, I loved how you finished it! Big ol’ offensive tackle Jumbo Elliott, from Lake Ronkonkoma, a Giant for eight years, and then a Jet for six, catches the game-tying touchdown to force overtime. Ha, what a call! And, then you complete the comeback, winning 40-37, on overtime field goal. Just classic!
Hey, Ravens, I know the Jets already know this, but since you fellas have only been around since 1996 (after you left Cleveland), you may not.
Did you guys know that my Giants, yeah, the wonderful New York Football Giants, played in both Yankee and Shea Stadiums before coming here? And, my Jets came here from Shea, too.
I guess that’s why the New York name always stuck with the Giants and Jets. Well that, and the fact that the National Football League needed the biggest market of all. New York, of course.
Even though, I always thought “Jersey Giants” and “Jersey Jets” would not only be a lot more geographically accurate, but they also have a much better ring, don’t ya think?
I mean, you wouldn’t even need the “New” for New Jersey, just “Jersey.” After all, it’s not “North Carolina Panthers,” it’s just “Carolina Panthers.”
I’ll talk about them in a minute, because the way my Giants just crumbled against the Panthers in their last game here… there are just no words for that kind of disappointment.
But, I digress.
Listen… Jets, Ravens: the real reason I’m talking to you now is because I need you.
Yes, even you, Baltimore.
Never mind that you beat my Giants in Super Bowl XXXV. I’ll be honest, I can never forget, but I can forgive. Ah, what does it matter anyway, since I’ll be gone soon?
But, I’ll tell you what… as long as I’m still here, I’ll forgive all that if you beat the Colts in Indianapolis on Saturday night.
Yeah, I know. They’re the top seed, and they might have gone undefeated if Bill Polian hadn’t foolishly made them lay down, ironically, against my Jets. You never would have seen the Maras pull that kind of stuff, I’ll tell you that!
And, I know, Peyton Manning, who’s better? But, you’re a good team, Baltimore. Look at the way you jumped on the Patriots last weekend. And, you almost beat the Colts in November. I’m telling you, you can do this. Go into Indy and get a win!
Now, on to my Jets.
As for you guys, you’re my last hope, since my Giants, as I was saying earlier, incredibly, decided not to show up in that 41-9 disgrace against Carolina last month. I mean, come on, playoffs on the line, their last game here, and that’s how they go out? Ugh, I better get off of that topic. I could go on from now until they start hitting me with the wrecking ball in February.
So, back to what I was saying… Gang Green, I need you guys, too.
Especially if the Ravens win on Saturday night, you guys just have to pull through against the Chargers on Sunday.
And, why not? You saw what my fifth-seeded Giants did only two years ago around this time of the year, didn’t you?
They beat fourth-seeded Tampa Bay on the road, 24-14, to start that amazing run to their Super Bowl XLII title. And you? Also a five seed, same score in Cincinnati last week, against the fourth-seeded Bengals. Sounds familiar, no?
Okay, I admit, unlike the two previous Super Bowl titles, I didn’t have a lot to do with that last one, at first. We all know that Giants team was a road warrior, and they only went 3-5 at home that year. But, I might add, that run really started right here, with me, Giants Stadium, in the good ol’ Meadowlands.
Allow me to refresh your memory, since I love telling this story. They lost to the 16-0 New England Patriots (another bit of NFL history made right here, that night), but man did they show up to play and give the Pats a tough game!
It was the type of effort that gave my Big Blue boys the confidence they needed to win that game in Tampa, and then in Dallas (ha! that was so sweet, I’ve always hated the Cowboys the most). And then, Green Bay in the snow, and finally, ruining the Pats’ quest for a perfect season in Arizona.
And, what happened when it was all over? They came back from the desert and had the parade down the famed Canyon of Heroes, only to end up with a wonderful celebration that same day, right here in their home. Giants Stadium.
So, what do you say, boys?
One more postseason game here for old time’s sake?
But, hang on, lemme finish. This wouldn’t be just any final playoff game. No, this would be the perfect way for me to go out, because look at the way you both play.
Jets, as far as points and total yards allowed, you’re the top-ranked defense in the whole league! You’re not quite as good as my ’85 Giants who I sent to their Super Bowl XXV victory with their 17-0 NFC championship game blanking of the Redskins on January 11, 1987, with my swirling winds blowing all of that confetti all over the place.
But, you’re still damn good, defensively. And, trust me, I know, because I know your head coach, and what his defense did to my Giants in Super Bowl XXXV.
And, I know he’s still got great “Rex-pectations” (heh heh, I love saying that) for you guys.
Back to you, Ravens. I know you’re not quite the dominant defense of years past. Hey, we all get older, but you’re still right behind the Jets, ranked third in the league in both points and total yards allowed.
Both of you also run the ball extremely well.
Baltimore, you’re fifth in the NFL in rushing, led by of course, Ray Rice, from where else? Rutgers, right here in Jersey. And, look at your playoff win in New England last week. You ran 52 times for 234 yards and four touchdowns! Need I say more?
And my Jets, no one in the league runs it better than you! A league-topping 172 yards per game. So, last week in your wild-card win in Cincinnati? Right on the same pace, with 171 yards on 41 carries. As dependable as the Meadowlands wind howling in December and January. Outstanding!
Here’s another big reason you both have to win this weekend.
Not even for me, not even for yourselves, but for the hardcore followers of the game.
See, I know football fans, real football fans.
True football fans don’t want to see a 51-45 mockery of the game in a climate-controlled dome like the Packers and Cardinals played last week. Geez, with my Giants out of the playoffs, we’ll probably get the same thing this week with the two NFC games this weekend. The Cowboys and Vikings probably throwing it all over the place in the Metrodome, while the Cardinals get into another shootout, this time, with the Saints, in the Superdome.
Dome, shome. It ain’t a real football home!
Serious football fans know that real football shouldn’t be played in places like that, least of all this time of year.
No, I know what the true football fan wants, and that’s the hard-nosed, hard-hitting brand of ball you guys both play, with terrific, aggressive defenses, and two great rushing games, on a cold, windy January Sunday, in a venue like mine.
The one and only Giants Stadium.
And, we also know those fans don’t want to see the favorites. They love underdogs making a magic carpet ride of a run like my 2008 Giants. So, who better than the two lowest seeds in the AFC to play for a trip to Super Bowl XLIV? The sixth-seeded Baltimore Ravens against the fifth-seeded New York Jets, in the AFC championship game, at Giants Stadium!
I have no delusions, trust me. I know how good the Colts and Chargers are, especially at home. I might add, that “home” for those teams are that fancy new Lucas Oil dome with a retractable roof in Indy, and beautiful, perfect, sunny San Diego. Gag me.
Yes, they’re both great teams. But, remember what my Giants did a couple years ago, and realize what you’re both very capable of because of the way you both play the game.
So, will you do it?
Will you each get one more win this weekend and send me out in grand style with one last real postseason game for the genuine football fans?
p.s. Baltimore, I guess now would be good time to let you know that although I’ll be pulling for you on Saturday night, I can’t possibly be a gracious host should you play here next weekend against my Jets. If you and the Jets win this weekend, I first get my chance to forgive both you and Rex, for Super Bowl XXXV. But, after that, you know I have to go with Gang Green, because in a weird sort of way, my adopted sons, my Jets, would exact a small measure of New Jersey (okay, fine, New York) revenge on behalf of my favorite sons, my Giants, for what happened nine years ago. So, if an AFC title game here would come down to a late field goal one way or the other, you’ll excuse me if I have someone open my tunnel doors again to play those little tricks with the swirling winds that I’m famous for. I hope you understand. Take care of the Colts, and then I’ll see you –- and the Jets — next week!