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Giants' title a reminder of why we watch sports

Posted: Tuesday February 5, 2008 1:40PM; Updated: Tuesday February 5, 2008 4:05PM
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The Giants surprising run to the Super Bowl serves as a reminder that sports holds the possibility of an inspiring underdog story.
The Giants surprising run to the Super Bowl serves as a reminder that sports holds the possibility of an inspiring underdog story.
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MONTCLAIR, N.J. -- Five post-Super Bowl thoughts from the home office in the land David Tyree made famous:

• How great it was this morning to watch the Giants float through Manhattan in the first Giants ticker-tape parade of all-time. It's why we watch sports -- for the unexpected, for the rise of the underdog, for something we never thought we'd see six weeks ago.

The head-shaking wonder of Eli Manning looking up from alongside mayor Michael Bloomberg. Michael Strahan jumping up and down with the Vince Lombardi Trophy in his right hand. Tom Coughlin beaming from ear to ear, as wide a smile as I've ever seen on him, all happening with shreds of paper snowing around them.

And the scads of unknown Giants, a tribute to the personnel gathering of men like Ernie Accorsi, Chris Mara and Jerry Reese. Watching the parade, you could hear floats go by with Giants, many of them anonymous, and it was so fitting to hear the crowds on the sidewalks of Broadway chanting, "Who are you! Who are you!'' Because this wasn't the familiar faces of Tedy Bruschi and Junior Seau and Randy Moss and Tom Brady in the floats. This was Kevin Boss and David Diehl and Justin Tuck and Corey Webster and Jay Alford. Fifty-three men. It's why we love football.

• I usually reserve Tuesdays to respond to your e-mails, I thought I'd let two of you present the opposite sides of the issue of Bill Belichick leaving the field with a second to go Sunday night.

Nathan Ward of Tampa checks in to say: "I dislike Bill Belichick as much as the next non-Patriot fan, but what's with all the outrage over him leaving the field early? The clock DID run down to 0:00 before he left the sideline; they just put time back on it and forced the Giants to run another play. (Of course, the clock should have stopped before running to zero, but that's not the point here. The point is that the scoreboard did, in fact, register 0:00.) And it wasn't like it was only him or only the Patriots who left early. Both sidelines emptied. I'm not going to try to argue that he's a classy coach, but why are so many crucifying him over something that he didn't really do wrong?''

And here's the view of Joe Breister of Colorado Springs: "I know you are a New England man, but how can you not be critical or at least mention Bill Belichick walking off the field before the game is over? Obviously, with one second left, the ending was a formality, but Randy Moss was crucified for a similar incident in Minnesota but his was never on the game's biggest stage. Is it not time for someone to hold Belichick accountable for his defiance and arrogance in Spygate, his exploits with the injury report, and now his poor sportsmanship and selfish demeanor in a loss?''

I find almost no fault with Belichick on this one, though I do think that when referee Mike Carey met the two coaches at midfield to inform them that one more play had to be run, Belichick should have returned to the New England sideline and sucked it up. But I think Nathan makes the most significant and valid point of all: The clock had run down to zero, one of the Pats' equipment guys had collected Belichick's headset, the sidelines began emptying and moving toward midfield, and all Belichick wanted to do was get across the field as fast as he could and get into the locker room so he could be away from the Giants' celebration.

This is not a rerun of the Moss situation. In that case, Moss, then with the Vikings, left the field with several seconds left in the game -- six, I believe -- in clear violation of the letter and the spirit of sportsmanship. As I said, Belichick would ideally have tucked his tail between his legs, rolled his eyes skyward, and gone back to his sideline. That would have been the Tony Dungy-thing to do. But it's not a very big deal to me.

It seems to be the type of issue that people who hate the guy can inflame on talk shows and message boards, whereas if this had happened in the Giants-Packers game two weeks ago, I doubt Mike McCarthy would have been raked over many coals for a similar move.

• Had I voted for MVP, I'd probably have split my vote between Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora, because holding the Patriots to their lowest point total in 25 games was what won this game. I don't, however, think Manning was a bad choice, because he led 80- and 83-yard touchdown drives down the stretch to win it. To do that, on that stage, is MVP-worthy.

Max McGee. Timmy Smith. David Tyree. Nobody's talking much about Tyree's first play in the game -- his touchdown catch with Asante Samuel in coverage. That's Asante Samuel, soon to be a $10-million or $11-million man in free-agency.

• I read the comments from Tom Brady's passing coach, Tom Martinez, in today's New York Daily News about the Patriots not adjusting to the Giants' pressure, questioning whether Brady's ankle hurt him more than he was letting on and preventing him from getting out of the pocket to avoid the heat. I saw it much differently. I saw Brady get floored 23 times, and I saw the heat on him from all directions. Where, exactly, was he supposed to go to avoid the rush? I think in time Martinez will have second thoughts about what he said.

Before I get on to your e-mails, I also want to say I was humbled by the e-mails, texts and calls inquiring about my health. Other than feeling like I was hit by a Humvee, I'm fine, thanks to the superb care and multiple IVs from the ER staff at the Good Samaritan Medical Center in downtown Phoenix. Cute story: While I waited on a gurney outside Radiology for a chest X-ray, a doc or orderly happened by, took a look at me and then looked again, then said: "Who do you like today?''

Football. Universal language.

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