Matt Gatward: Giants' steps to glory throw up insight and melodrama
View From The Sofa: America's game: The 2007 Giants/Sky Sports 4
Monday 08 February 2010
Love it or loathe it the Super Bowl is impossible to ignore if you're that side of the pond and pretty tricky to turn a blind eye to if you're this. But last night's season finale, with all the razzamatazz, fireworks, wardrobe malfunctions and an elongated half-time detracting from the on-field activities touched four hours. The whole shebang ran until 3am. That takes some dedication.
So, if you're currently yawning your way through a day's work you shouldn't have bothered. You should have got your requisite eight hours shut-eye and waited for the next in the series of hour-long documentaries that tell the story of the season.
America's Game charted the journey of the 2007 Super Bowl-winning New York Giants and featured three key protagonists, the coach Tom Coughlin, quarterback Eli Manning and defensive end Michael Strahan, talking us through the action. There was also some fascinating behind-the-scenes footage of training drills carried out two days before the Super Bowl. One play was replicated to perfection in the big match to produce a touchdown.
It was great insight as Eli Manning, brother of Peyton who led the Colts last night, talked us through his training ground throw to David Tyree. "The only catch Tyree made all day," said Manning. "The worst practice in the history of practices. But he said he'd come good on the day and he did."
It would be fascinating watching Fabio Capello as he drills the England team (you can probably watch the England players doing their own drilling somewhere on YouTube but that's a different story) two days before the World Cup final. OK, I know it's asking a lot to imagine England in a World Cup final but you get the point.
The match footage is also up close and personal as cameramen mingle with players on the touchline. Strahan is shown urging his team on when they are 17-14 down with two minutes left. "One touchdown," he shouts, "and we are champions. Believe it and it will happen. Touchdown or nothing. Super Bowl champions or Super Bowl losers."
Sure enough, as if it were written in Hollywood, on the final drive Manning wriggles free of the onrushing Patriots and with a long throw down the middle picks out old slippery-hands Tyree, who clings on to a cracking catch to set up the touchdown. Manning talks of how he almost offloaded the ball and you can see in the slow-motion footage that thought going through his mind.
"Eli falls over in practice with no one around him," says Strahan as he relives the moment, "that is a fact. And he's about to get sacked and I'm thinking 'No, you can't get sacked right now.'" Coughlin says: "If the ball is thrown high down the middle field nothing good comes of it." Strahan adds: "Why throw down the middle on a hail Mary? Are you kidding me? But David catches it with one hand and lands on his back and clings on. For something that magical to happen in a season so magical. We could not lose." Manning then completes the job with a touchdown pass to receiver Plaxico Burress.
"The Giants have won the freaking Super Bowl," says Strahan. "We are world champions." Well, American champions but, whatever.
For mawkishness and melodrama look no further than these documentaries, but that's the Super Bowl. The show could have done with one more chapter, though. A "where are they now?" if you like. Strahan is in a relationship with Eddie Murphy's former wife, Nicole, the details of which have kept newspapers busy, and Burress is serving two years for gun possession. Hardly a Hollywood ending, though.
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