When did the morning after the NFC and AFC championship games become January’s version of Black Friday?
I went to bed last night following two thoroughly enjoyable football games and woke up to a marketing campaign.
Radio and television ads alerted us to great deals on Giants’ NFC championship shirts, hats and whatever else. And stores would be open as early as six and seven in the morning to turn Giants fever into dollar signs as soon as possible.
Let me speak to this as an outside observer; someone who is not, nor has ever been a dyed-in-the-Big-Blue-wool Giants fan. Someone whose team spent 36 years in between visits to the Super Bowl before Peyton Manning came to the NFL.
Who is it that wants NFC or AFC championship gear so badly that they just have to be at your town’s big-box sporting goods store before the break of dawn?
I guess they’re out there, people who have to have the latest and greatest. To show to friends at work, or if they’re feeling particularly nasty, to rub it in the face of someone they know who roots for the losing club.
Allow me to attest to my own experience. It’s not long.
I was 9 years old when Super Bowl III took place. Joe Namath’s guarantee of a Jets victory was my first hint that the sports world was not scripted for my own personal enjoyment. There have been constant reminders ever since.
But two years later the Colts beat the Cowboys in Super Bowl V, providing me with a moment of absolute, pure joy when Jim O’Brien’s field goal decided the game in the final seconds. There’s nothing like that first time. Believe me.
I doubt if the marketing genius who came up with this current championship Black Friday campaign was even born when O’Brien’s field goal sailed through the uprights that day in Miami.
No AFC championship shirt for me. And that’s okay.
Fast forward thirty-six years later. The Colts beat the Patriots to reach Super Bowl XLI, finally defeating their archrivals with a comeback for the ages. Honestly, considering what was at stake, the foe, and the road Manning and the Colts were traveling at the time, it probably was the greatest victory in the history of the franchise since the 1958 championship game. That day the Baltimore Colts beat the Giants in the first NFL sudden death game. Many still call it the greatest game ever played.
There was plenty of AFC championship gear available in 2007, but I held out. I was after bigger game: Super Bowl XLI. And when the Colts beat the Bears, I took the plunge. Commemorative football, shirts, a leather jacket and whatever else I could order before cooler heads prevailed.
Two years later the Colts were back in the Super Bowl after beating the Jets in the AFC championship game. Again, I have nothing to remember that game by. No shirt, no hat, nothing. And that’s just how I planned it. I wanted another dip in the Super Bowl treasure trove, nothing else would suffice.
Today, I change the channel whenever they show highlights of how the Saints beat the Colts that day; the name “Hank Baskett” will forever live in infamy in my household.
I don’t want a cocktail napkin, a scorecard, a big No.1 finger – you name it – from that game. And I certainly don’t want an AFC championship hat, a reminder of how close my team had come to its goal but failed in the end.
Here’s the bottom line: There’s only one prize in football and they call it the Lombardi Trophy. Anything else is just a reminder of how close you came.
Today, I don’t even remember much about beating the Jets in the 2009 AFC title game. Except that it did shut up a lot of Jets fans I know.
But not for long. They’re Jets fans. It’s what they do.
Giants fans, hold out a little longer. Your time is coming.