Greatest game

See, this is why American football is the best sport in the world. It’s not the biggest, but it’s the greatest. I get questions all the time from Europeans I meet: What is up with your “football”? — always asked with a snide little smirk. I try to explain, but it never quite works.

Here’s what people outside the USA don’t get about our misnamed passion: Every game is a four-act play; you have to understand the language and you have to watch the whole thing from beginning to end. That’s because it’s the narrative quality that makes it work, the almost Shakespearean progression of events that congeal into an epic story. Every game is a series of brief scenes that fall in a linear progression from beginning to end, with dramatic twists and turns, all finally culminating in and ending that is the sum of everything that happened along the way. And when it’s a finish like today’s game, it makes for a heck of a good story. Then there are the subplots, the tiny little back stories, the things happening on the field that you may never notice.

But mostly it’s the dynamic tension of potential versus kinetic energy. The game breathes. Those 40 seconds in between events are what give players, coaches, and fans time to think, time to fear. And we get close-cropped camera angles of eyes, showing all that pressure. Then you execute your plan — against the other team’s plan — and it works or it doesn’t. And at some point, at least once in every game, something incredible happens that turns the whole story on its end.

I hate the Giants. Not really, it’s more that I hate the way Eli Manning came into the league (again, gotta understand the backstory). But still, that game was a blast. From 7 minutes remaining on to the end, the whole bar was standing. With every play, they were leaning, gasping, cheering, exhaling. Quite a scene, and quite a game.


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