With this weekend's NFL title games, it seems the subtext is the spectre of the rematch between the New England Patriots and the New York Giants in the Super Bowl. Bill Simmons sums it up best with his column today:
Q: Since you never answer my long thought-out mailbag questions, I'm going to ask you a simple one. What you and your dad gonna do when Patriots vs Giants II runs wild on you? Could a new Level of Losing be created? — Pat Frappier, Ottawa
SG: Why do people keep sending me (or any other Patriots fan) this e-mail? Here's a newsflash: If the Patriots make it to the Super Bowl, we ALL want the Giants. Don't you realize that would be the best possible way to extinguish every awful memory from Super Bowl 42? And that we'd have a chance to do it in Indianapolis, the scene of the other Super Bowl that got away, when the Pats blew a 20-point lead to the 2006 Colts and gakked a third-and-3 that could have ended the game (and led to a trouncing over Rex Grossman and the Bears two weeks later)?
A good parallel: Magic and the Lakers totally choked in the 1984 Finals against my Celtics. They blew Game 2 and Game 4 in the worst possible ways, then melted down completely down the stretch in Game 7. Magic spent the summer hearing that he was a choke artist. The Lakers spent the summer hearing that they weren't as tough, they were California pansies, they were intimidated by Kevin McHale's clothesline and everything else. And Boston fans probably broke the superiority complex record that summer; we owned the Lakers and that was that. You know what happened a year later? The Lakers won the 1985 title in Boston Garden. It was like hitting a giant RESET button. Now, anytime that 1984 Finals comes up, it's always mentioned with the caveat, "But remember, the Lakers got their revenge the following year." That's what would happen if the Patriots beat the Giants in Super Bowl XLVI. Or so I keep telling myself.