I can’t help but break out into a maniacal grin, when rereading this particularly forlorn passage from Cooking With Jeanne, circa February 4, 2011:
“As a New York football fan, I could not give a Chinese New Year rabbit’s foot about this Sunday's game. Packers or Steelers. Who cares? All I know is that 2010 marked the second year in which the Giants spectacularly imploded in the late season.”
Not this year, baby. New York Giants’ fans rejoice. We are going to the Super Bowl.
I really love football. It’s a passion I inherited through matrilineal decent; My grandmother taught my mother who taught me. I used to think this knowledge of first conversions and 3-4 defense formation was kind of a cool quirk. Then I started going to Giants games and met other female fans. Oh Lord! They are a collective vision of Farah Fawcett hairdos, outrageously oversized jerseys, and really coarse language. How are these ladies my people?
Yet the Giants played a supporting role in some of my life’s bigger moments. Back in the 1980s, Bill Parcell’s New York Giants provided an early taste of celebrity when they practiced at a college in my hometown. The local kids (and Mom) would hang outside of practice all day hoping to catch a glimpse of Phil Simms or Mark Bavaro. One day, Lawrence Taylor actually emerged from practice. The kids swarmed him, shouting “LT! LT! LT!”, as they begged him for an autograph. According to the Jeanne, LT was none too enthusiastic. Taylor muttered, “Just stop saying my name. Just stop saying my name,” then looked for the quietest kid in the crowd –aka my brother—and quickly signed his book. The only autograph granted for the day.
I remember watching the Giants play San Francisco in the NFC playoffs from my grandmother, Gert’s hospital room. She had just been diagnosed with cancer and was recovering from surgery. The game gave us something to focus on other than her illness. We were soothed by the regimen of plays, time-outs and commercials. When the Giants won the Super Bowl the following, my grandmother was no longer with us. However, to me, she is forever linked to that championship team.
Perhaps memories like these also sustain those other female fans, whose hair and clothes I am so quick to judge. Maybe they remember the thrill of watching games with their Dad or uncles; slowly piecing together how this bizarre military-style game works. I could probably discuss the miracle of Eli Manning’s pass to David Tyree in Super Bowl XLII with anyone of these ladies regardless of our different fashion sense. We share the strange, inexplicable bond of fandom.
So, this Sunday, I too shall don an incredibly unflattering NY Giants jersey. I shall shout obscenities at the referee when he –inevitably—makes the wrong call against Big Blue. It’s what my mother and Gert would have wanted. It’s who I am.
Are you a fan? Why does your team matter to you?
As I watch, we will be eating this high-fallutin’ dip. My cousin served it at Christmas, and I have been dying to make it ever since. There is no better holiday to bust out a Buffalo Chicken Dip than Super Bowl Sunday.
Buffalo Chicken Dip
3-4 cooked chicken breasts (i use a roasted chicken for ease)
8 oz cream cheese
6-8 oz cheddar cheese
4 oz blue cheese dressing
6 oz hot sauce
Chop shredded chicken. Combine with other ingredients. Bake at 350 for 25-30 min. Enjoy!!!!