I did not know I could hate the Patriots any more than I do at this very moment. Don Shula's Dolphins? The '76 Raiders? The '77 Cowboys...wait, the Cowboys of any era? Big Ben's Steelers? I would gladly pledge an unholy allegiance to any one of these destructors if I knew they could bring Belichick's gray, dull, spiritless, predictable brand of football low forever.
Jeff Bleamer #71, played tackle for us in his last season in the pros, 1977. (I'd like to start out, however, by mentioning that the names for #71 are particularly good. In addition to a Bleamer, we have a Chalenski, a Lusckinski, a Krevis, a Pickel, a Stuckey and a Winkel. That is all.) Bleamer went to Penn State and was amazed to be drafted by any pro team in 1975, let alone the Philadelphia Eagles, who were, as he put it, "in my backyard." A 2015 Morning Call article outlines the terrific differences between the drafts of then and now by using Bleamer as an example. He may have been pleased to have been drafted, but perhaps deflated, slightly, to discover that the reason it happened is because Joe Paterno called Mike McCormack, the-then Eagles GM, and reminded him that the team had yet to draft a Nittany Lion. Bleamer was drafted, arbitrarily or not. That's how things worked back then. I think we can all agree for reasons that don't need to be outlined here how that was both a better and yet much worse system.
Jarron Gilbert #71 played on mostly the practice squads of the Bills and the Jets. He earned a BA in Sociology from San Jose State. To further reinforce the earlier point made by the Morning Call with regard to how much the draft has changed, consider the following:
Obviously this is something cool. One commenter on YouTube says, "It's harder then it looks! So all you people that sit on your ass... And dislike this video first.. try to jump on top of the 1st step of the stair case.. lol.. And if you don't bust your shit! LOL." Another thing that's wrong with our civilization is that a simple YouTube video can produce vitriol, both attacking and defending. Am I sitting on my ass? Yes. Am I disliking this video? No. In fact, what I like best about it is the odd Yo La Tengo- tinged-with-Dark Jazz soundtrack that doesn't really fit the grainy video itself.
As I write this, I have just watched what are the likely winning points that the Giants have scored over the Browns - Jason Pierre-Paul's recovering a batted ball and taking it all the way to the house. The Giants now lead 20-6, with most of the fourth quarter to go, but in Brownsland, it's clearly another loss. The Browns had gotten a terrific 50-yard gain on a Terrelle Pryor Sr. reception.
Then, the turnover then happened on the very next play, as if on cosmic cue. The sound from the remaining Browns fans in the stands was a poignant combination of resignation and bitter laughter, as if they had been waiting for this particular piano to drop on them, as it always does. I'm certain it wasn't the Giants fans laughing, but the Browns fans. People who are proud to follow a team they know will break their hearts must respond this way. Otherwise why are you there?
JP-P looked like a huge tight end on his way to the end zone compared to the figure of the man who was the first to greet him there - the Giants' Damon Harrison, who was once briefly a #71 for the Jets, then our #94. Considering the serendipity of this moment, and the uncertainty with which I may be navigating the blog by the time I get to that number, I decide to discuss Harrison now. Who knows what kind of country we'll be living in by #94?
Are the Jets worse off without him? What's unfortunate is that it there are so many missing pieces in the Jets that it hardly seems worth exploring the question. The Giants have won five straight, and they've done it with much more than Damon Harrison. The Jets are just simply a worse team in many ways.
Here are some random cool facts about Damon Harrison:
1. Of course he is - "Snacks." It's one of the best nicknames in all of sports.
2. He opened up to the Players Tribune about fighting depression and suicidal ideation after Hurricane Katrina devastated his hometown. Anytime giant men talk about their feelings, it's a good thing.
3. He was All-Pro last year.
4. His first recorded NFL sack was on Tom Brady.
5. After this year's defeat of the Cowboys, the Giants still had zero sacks. Newsday pointed out, during the game that Harrison nearly tried to sack Dak Prescott, but realized that it might register as a late hit, so he pulled up. (Snacks did not sack Dak. There. I said it.) He is a popular player and still well liked by his former teammates on the Jets, probably for saying something like what he said when he contemplated being the first Giant this season with a sack. "I told coach today that it’s kind of good I didn’t get it,” the Giants defensive tackle said (after not sacking Prescott), “because at no time should I be leading the team in sacks. We’d be in trouble.”
Giants top Browns 27-13. As the game winds down, there are no more Browns fans remaining in the stadium. The fans in Cleveland will return next week in the game against Cincinnati because that's what people who are proud to remain loyal do. If only that dedication could be put to some useful purpose.