Fans uttering T-word but don’t tell that to Giants, Brian Daboll
Oh, God. No. Not again. We’re going to start seeing the word again, a lot, aren’t we? It’s inevitable. It’s irrefutable. And it’s not entirely egregious, either, except if you happen to care about quality in your professional football. But here it is. Again. That word. That $#$@$%& word. Back again. In the third paragraph of this column, with a bullet.
Bound for lead graphs all across December and January.
Oh, God. No. Not again. No way.
Alas. As Bill said to Ted: “Yes, way.”
You won’t hear the word anywhere within the boundaries of 1925 Giants Drive during the week, or inside the walls of MetLife Stadium (or, Sunday, FedEx Field). But it’s everywhere. It’s omnipresent. It’s omnipotent. Listen closely and the word of the old Wet Wet Wet chestnut morph right before your ears:
I feel it in my fingers
I feel it in my toes
Tanking’s all around us
And so the feeling grows
“Can’t do much about that right now,” coach Brian Daboll said Friday afternoon in his final comments before the Giants headed to Washington for a 1 p.m. Sunday game with the Commanders. “Do what we need to do each week to try and play our best on Sunday.”
Those aren’t just words from Daboll, of course.
Everyone else can talk about how much better off the Giants might be to simply look at this season as a total write-off, how they’d be better off to cut their losses by actually adding to their losses, as many as seven more, how the rich quarterback draft (in a moment when the Giants’ quarterbacking future is especially murky) and the presence of generational prospect Marvin Harrison Jr. makes what will happen on April 25 far more appealing to think about than what will happen on any of the Sundays to come.
It’s different for Daboll, and not only because if the Giants finish 2-15 there will have to be at least a cursory discussion among the suits above him whether Daboll remains the answer in the Giants’ coaching office (and even if they do go 2-15, the answer should still be “yes”). Coaches aren’t wired that way. Players aren’t wired that way. You say the Giants are done? I say the Giants are done?
The people who actually comprise the Giants feel otherwise.
Saquon Barkley: “Every single one in this locker room, the majority of us, have been playing this game since we were little kids and dream about being in these moments and playing in the NFL. So, that’s kind of the way I look at it. Just take advantage of the opportunity.”
Wink Martindale: “You’re here to win, every day. Offseason, during the season, everything else, so we are playing these games to win them and play well.”
Tommy DeVito: “We have to just try to go out and make the most of every play, every opportunity.”
That’s well. That’s good. And, look: it’s the NFL. The last time someone decided to make a movie about pro football the title came from the most-overused cliché in the game that also happens to be one of its bedrock truths: Any given Sunday. The Cardinals beat the Cowboys this year. The Broncos beat the Chiefs. The Jets beat the Eagles.
Of course the Giants can beat the Commanders Sunday — they already did that once, after all, although it sometimes feels like that game happened in 1988 or so. They are still playing a green quarterback. They still can’t score against a lot of first-team defenses. The defense has been a sieve the last two weeks.
But it’s Sunday.
Could be an any-given-Sunday.
And so for three hours, the men who wear Giants uniforms and the men who coach those players will be spared the worst four-letter word in all pro sports. We’ll hear “tank” plenty come Monday if they lose — and, hell, we’ll hear the word a lot even if they win — but for three hours the Giants can lose themselves in the game, the only kind of loss that they’ll be willing to accept. Sunday is for that.
That word will be back, and in force. Bank on it.