Is this a fever dream? Of course it’s a fever dream.
But then, so many of the real-life things that happen to and for us in sports begin as fever dreams, don’t they? The very best moments are the ones that, even as they’re happening, make you shake your head in wonder.
And ask: “Did that really happen?”
And the odds? Forget about the odds. Don’t even bother looking it up on FanDuel or Caesars. But that’s also part of it, right? The improbability. What were the odds the U.S. hockey team would beat the Russians? What were the odds the ball would trickle through Buckner’s legs? What were the odds David Tyree would catch a football against his helmet?
Yet those things did happen.
Even as you asked yourself: “Did that really happen?”
You can’t wish these things to be so, we know that, we understand that. But what if we could? The possibilities would be endless. But on this weekend, on this last Sunday of January, let’s reduce it to one particular fever dream. There will be two conference championships played this weekend, and as on every Championship Weekend going back to the first one in January 1967, they will be held in different cities.
One in Kansas City.
One in Philadelphia.
And that Philly one … well, damn. It’s so close you’ll almost be able to hear the rambunctiousness emanating from Lincoln Financial Field all the way up the Turnpike. Close enough to dream about. Close enough to wonder …
In the Super Bowl Era, we have had three championship games played in Greater New York. The Jets beat the Raiders in December 1968. The Giants beat the Redskins in January 1987, and then clobbered the Vikings, 41-0, 14 years later. That’s it. That’s all.
The way the football has bounced around here, there have been precious few chances for either team to ever host a title game. The Giants have been a No. 1 seed in the NFC exactly twice (and didn’t make the title game one of those times, in 2008); the Jets never have. Heck, even the three times it has happened here, twice the teams needed luck — in 1968 it was simply the AFL Eastern Division’s turn to host (the Raiders were 12-2 that year, the Jets 11-3). In 1986 the Giants needed Washington to eliminate the Bears in order to get that game in East Rutherford.
It’s not an easy path, just getting one team to host the Big Game.
So it’s really ridiculous to wish for a year when both teams get that far.
But hey, as we said before: This is about fever dreams. This is about making a wish upon a star and seeing what happens.
And honestly, if you let yourself go and just dream about it … what a wonderful weekend it would be. There have already been whispers that at some future date the NFL might split the championship games, move one to Monday night. That, of course, would force that hand. For argument’s sake — let’s up the fever a little — let’s say that happens this coming season.
It will be the AFC’s turn to host the “early” game, so that means the Jets would get MetLife Stadium on Sunday. Jets fans have — to date — witnessed exactly seven home playoff games in the team’s 63-year history. Imagine all of that pent-up frustration as the locals unleash 6 ½ decades of angst on the poor Chiefs, Bengals or Bills …
And then Monday night — Monday night! Prime time in the Big Apple! — MetLife would switch from green to blue like magic, and Giants fans of every borough and county and neighboring township would declare it a local civic holiday, and the anticipation would start just after breakfast and … well, good luck to the Eagles or the Cowboys or the 49ers who would have to deal with that starting at 8:15 or so that night …
We’ve had a Super Bowl here. We’ve had a Subway Series in baseball. We had one forever Rangers-Islanders series, and one forever Rangers-Devils series, and the memories of those resound across the decades, still. All of them would be dwarfed by a Championship Weekend at MetLife …
Which, of course, would almost certainly never happen.
There’s no crime in daring to dream. Am I right?
Maybe you’re anxious to see Aaron Rodgers’ press conference with the Jets in 2023. Me, I can’t wait to see the one they have for Jordan Love in 2038.
First Adam Rich and now Lance Kerwin? Couldn’t 2023 have found a better way to try and deal with all the adolescent-angst TV I watched when I was a kid?
U2 has redone “Pride (In the Name of Love)” and many other of their hits, and though I’m glad in the new version they’ve changed the lyrics to describe the terrible events of April 4 happening in the evening and not the morning … good luck tolerating getting that far into the song. Was anyone really asking for this?
The Knicks are so bad at closing it would not be surprising to learn that all their coffee machines have been confiscated.
Whack Back at Vac
Alan Hirschberg: St. John’s allowed 104 points to Creighton the other night. That’s 40 minutes of hell.
Vac: Things are getting bleaker and bleaker on Union Turnpike.
Bob Feuerstein: So in the last six years, the City of Brotherly Love has brought its fans a lot of thrills, with two Villanova national championships, a Phillies NL championship and what could be a second Super Bowl championship. I think it’s time to start calling the city Thrilladelphia.
Vac: Revoke my NYC Sports Guy card if you must … but he isn’t wrong.
@jeff_am_105: Even though I’m a Jets fan since ’67, I must take issue with one of your hypothetical tweets in Wednesday’s column: There is no way in hell that Johnny U. would ever throw Don Shula under a bus, train, kayak or any other conveyance, just not happening!
@MikeVacc: Which was sort of the point of inventing such an absurd fake tweet, but for the record that is 100 percent true.
Tom Kiley: Sometimes the wild-card team is just completely overmatched. No matter. The Giants’ coaches and Joe Schoen are way ahead of schedule in rebuilding this team. Time to be happy, Giant fans. Wait till next year!
Vac: Too few seasons ever end with a majority of fans happy. That may be one last piece of overachievement for the Giants this season.