Someone once asked me what it was like to be a Giants season ticket holder for 58 years? “Well,” I replied, “It has given me that opportunity to see a lot of lousy football.”
On Sunday, December 29, the Football Giants lost their 12th game of the 2019 Season, 34-17, at home to the Philadelphia Eagles. Had the Giants won this game, they would have played the role of spoiler denying the Eagles a place in the playoffs.
Most of the faithful, including me, made a poor showing in support of Big Blue. The odds were long, the weather prediction, awful and when coupled with a 4:25 game time start, the idea of attending became even less appealing. Eagles fans gladly invaded the stadium buying unused tickets for the chance to see their team get into the playoffs.
On Monday morning John Mara and Steve Tisch, the team’s owners fired their head coach, Pat Shurmur following two unsuccessful years at the helm of their football team. The General Manager, (GM) Dave Gettleman, managed to survive to fight or to be fired another day.
I once introduced my wife to Ernie Accorsi, then the Giants GM in a hospital elevator. “Mary Ann is an Assistant Principal in a NYC school.”
Mary Ann said, “You have a hard job.”
Accorsi replied: “Yes I do. You are evaluated once a year about how your school is doing. I get evaluated every week during the season.”
The survival rate of head coaches in the NFL has been reduced from a more comfortable wait and see tenure of three to five years regardless of record to two and out if the coach doesn’t achieve a winning season. Things are so bad in Giants land that Shurmur’s replacement will be our third coach in five seasons. Their cumulative record in that time was 29 and 51.
Shurmur and Gettleman were anointed to return the team to its former glory following the demise of their predecessors, Ben McAdoo and Jerry Reese. McAdoo and Reese slid from being our greatest hope to being bums as has Shurmur.
And so, a quest for a new head coach began once again. Mara and Tisch said all the right things accepting their share of the blame. Gettleman supposedly agreed to embrace analytics hiring here-to-for unwelcomed computer geeks and adopting a state-of-the-art analytical system. His announcement looked like a shotgun marriage to me.
Each day, the press, columnists, reporters and radio talking heads speculated on the supposed strengths and weakness of different candidates. Curiously, each candidate was gobbled elsewhere. Rivera by the Skins, McCarthy by the Cowboys and Rhule by the Panthers. On the tenth day Big Blue’s brain trust rested after selecting Joe Judge from the Patriots.
I’ve been down this road too many times before to believe the brain trust really knew who to select. Try as hard as they will, luck will decide the outcome.
Pete Rozelle demanded that the Giants hire George Young as their first GM following a disastrous 1978 season.
Young cleaned house but, even with a new coach, the team went 10 and 22 over the next two seasons.
Everybody knew Lawrence Taylor (LT) would become a star even though most of us didn’t realize that LT would become the best defensive player in the NFL of all time. The Giants picked second in the 1981; the New Orleans Saints, first. LT would have become a Saint if Bum Phillips, their coach and GM, so desired, but Phillips picked, George Rogers, a star running back from South Carolina.
Young got lucky and LT became the Giant who led the team to a new era of Giants glory. Luck, my friends, pure luck. Here’s hoping the Judge turns out to be lucky as well as good.