Tailgate for a while in the MetLife Stadium parking lot before a Giants game and your dying duck anti-spiral will crazy hop away from your friend and into a number 10 jersey hunched over a grill. Later, you’ll slosh Bud Light on a 56 and high five at least one 89. Eli, LT and Mark Bavaro jerseys at Giants games are like Simpsons quotes. You encounter them so often you don’t even realize anymore. No, Tiki. They’re saying Boo-arber!
Each rectangular section inside Air-Conditioner Vent Stadium is a three-number Bingo board. And each number is a sandwich board announcing what the wearer values about the Giants and what flimsy metaphors for life he or she gleans from the way twenty-five-year-old NY-helmeted superhumans stiff arm twenty-four-year-old star-helmeted superhumans.
10. Eli is easy. He’s the team’s beloved starting quarterback who outplayed GQ Brady twice in the Super Bowl. He’s a privileged son of the Quarterback Kennedys, was the #1 overall pick in the 2004 draft and has a hot wife, but fans still root for him like he’s a three-legged dog climbing stairs. The franchise’s all-time leading rusher is now the franchise’s leading villain just because he criticized Eli’s leadership. We’re in La Belle Epoque right now, Giants fans, and Manning is Picasso. It’s good we recognize it as it’s happening.
56. When you wear a Lawrence Taylor jersey — and after Manning, Taylor is the most common last name at MetLife Stadium — you are either condoning abhorrent, anti-social behavior or proclaiming that off-field disgrace will never tarnish on-field GLORY. Department of Corrections No. R18755? Who cares. He’s number 56. And 56 is The Big Blue Wrecking Crew!
Ottis Anderson was Super Bowl XXV MVP and scored rushing touchdowns in the ‘86 and ‘90 Super Bowls. Meh. Carl Banks was on the the NFL’s 1980s All-Decade Team and does color commentary for WFAN. Cool. Harry Carson is in the Hall of Fame. What number was he again?
I was at the Giants/Bucs game on Sept. 16 and I didn’t see any of their jerseys until Carson’s 53 popped out of a bathroom stall at halftime.
Why wear Pippen or Grant when you can wear Michael Jordan? Sorry, Banks and Carson, but 56 is Big Blue’s 23.
89. There’s a common belief among mediocre, middle class, white men that, “Yeah, bro. If I could play any position in the NFL, I’d be a tight end.” Tight Ends are sports’ submission to American mythology. They’re frontiersmen and WPA laborers and characters in Bruce Springsteen songs. Mark Bavaro fits this ideal perfectly.
Receivers are lithe, marble-sculpted Olympians. Whatever sport they chose, they would excel. The towering, V-Shaped defensive ends are architectural marvels. The linemen are behemoths. But the tight ends are just a couple of honest, hard-working dudes. Let’s write country music about them!
Check out some of this NFL Films special on Bavaro: http://youtu.be/-7vW_0vL5qs
The guy was good (he made two Pro Bowls) but not Gonzalez/Gronk/Graham good. He was tough, but everyone in the NFL is tough. He was quiet — except when it came to opposing women’s rights. People wear his jersey because he once dragged seven 49ers twenty yards downfield. We turn plays like that into an allegory for the power of human will and struggle. But Bavaro’s just an ex-NFL player and we don’t know much about him other than where he used to work.
It’s cool to admire his ferocious play (like we do with LT), but we should not lionize a man for what he did on a field.