Monday, February 04, 2008

Giants' Win Big, But Not Bigger Than Namath's Jets' Upset

Yesterday's Super Bowl was truly super. That makes the Big Game 20-for-42, by my count, in being super as opposed to being a dud. And, frankly, this one might have been in the top three or four in terms of excitement and history and with the upset factor thrown into the mix.

The gushing and overstatements and forgetting of history has begun, however.

This is the biggest upset in Super Bowl history!

That's what some would have you believe.

Even usually sane, right-thinking media folks are getting sucked into the New York Giants' 17-14 win over the New England Patriots yesterday. They'd have you forget the biggest upset of all-time, in order to force-feed this game into that spot.

For purposes of an objective argument, "upset" should be classified as any game in which the underdog comes out victorious -- based on the pre-game point spread.

Using that as a barometer, the Giants -- 14-point 'dogs in most books -- have indeed pulled off one of the biggest upsets. The 2001-02 Pats, when they beat the St. Louis Rams, and the 1997-78 Denver Broncos -- upsetters of the Green Bay Packers, are being mentioned along with the 2007-08 Giants in that regard, mainly based on point spreads.

Oh, and the New York Jets are mentioned, too -- the 1968-69 team of Joe Namath -- almost as an afterthought.


Don't even go there with me. Don't tell me that what Eli Manning and Company did to the 18-0 Pats, while impressive, trumps what Namath's AFL Jets did to the mighty NFL Baltimore Colts in Miami in January 1969 (Super Bowl III).

There's the point spread, for one -- though that's hardly the only reason. The 13-1 Colts were 18-19 point favorites over the Jets. But the NFL was 2-0 in Super Bowls, with the Packers easily handling the Kansas City Chiefs and Oakland Raiders in I and II. Both games cemented, in many people's minds, the NFL's dominance over the AFL. There was little reason to believe otherwise, frankly.

Yet Namath, and the Jets defense, rather easily handled the Colts. It was stunning, really, how easily the Jets beat the Colts. The final score was 16-7. The Colts contributed to the cause with turnovers, but the Jets probably would have won anyway. The AFL proved it could play with the NFL. And, for good measure, the Chiefs beat the Minnesota Vikings the next year to even the NFL-AFL Super Bowl record at 2-2 before the 1970 merger.

But the Jets' win was landmark, and was not only the biggest upset in Super Bowl history, but one of the greatest upsets in sports history. It wasn't the 1980 US Hockey Team beating the Russians, but it was pretty damn close.

So don't let the gushers and forgetters of history con you. Yesterday's win by the Giants was amazing, but not the most amazing. The '68 Jets will probably always hold that title.

1 comment:

gedster said...

Right you are, Greg!. I saw both, and there's no comparison. The Namath-engineered upset was theater, the stuff of legend. And even though his "guarantee" was really accidental, the result of provocation by sportswriters, he still had the presence of mind on the field to back it up with his masterful quick release and generalship. And what about the post-game hoopla? Pretty simple, direct, with no confetti, special winners' caps, or tearful interviews: rather it was the single digit, bigger than a flag pole, waved in the air by Namath as he exited the field.