Last Sunday night was a bittersweet few hours for me. Of course, you all know (OK both of you who read this...well, maybe not Angela...) that it was the Super Bowl. The Big Day. The Pinacle of Sport and Competition. It is bittersweet in that it is a huge festival of Americana highlighting the greatest sport man has ever played, yet sad in that it is the final "real" game for several long months. My beloved Steelers weren't in the Super Bowl, so you would think I wouldn't watch with the same emotional intensity that I have previously been known for.
How wrong you are.
You see, I despise the Patriots.
Besides the fact that they are big, fat cheater pants (Spygate anyone???) I just take issue with a coach who cuts the arms off his sweatshirts and a quarterback who models for Stetson. (I mean, is he wearing Jordache jeans while he poses???? Way too 80s to come off as promotional if you ask me...) To top it all off, they were undefeated in the regular season. Every game that was close, I begged and screamed and armchair-quarterbacked myself into a frenzy, all to see my gridiron archnemesis pull out a victory in the end. Maddening.
And then along came Eli. I think I might love Eli now even more than I despise the Patriots.
I am happy for all the other Giants players. I am. Who couldn't love Strahan's big wide grin or Plaxico's tears with their unexpected (but well deserved!) Super Bowl victory? But it was sweet - so sweet - to see Eli win a championship ring.
You aren't sure who Eli is? Oh. He's Peyton's little brother.
Now you know him? Yes?
Therein lies the rub.
Being the youngest of three, I know what it is like to live in the shadow of your older siblings. To keep it short and simple, it generally stinks. I followed my sisters through grade school, middle school, and high school and I spent all those years hearing about how fabulous my sisters were. Don't get me wrong - they were alright - but hearing it year after year after year begins to wear on a person. I will never forget my German teacher who would just look at me and shake his head and mutter something about Lisa always being so quiet and well mannered. (What is up with that?) Elaine was always funny and pretty and popular, so clawing my way through the awkward years was a real joy when people made the connection there. I followed Lisa to college and a professor stopped me and told me that as Lisa's little sister I had some big shoes to fill. You can guess where I wanted to put those shoes.
So here is Eli - a good, solid, maturing quarterback in his own right, and yet the back of his jersey might as well have said "Peyton's Little Brother". Although it didn't seem to bother Eli (he is fairly robotic emotionally), as a little sister I felt the pain for him.
While I was excited - thrilled- exhuberant to see the Patriots lose their final game (and it brings me even more evil pleasure that their season will probably be remembered for the game the DIDN'T win), I was even more blessed and inspired to see Eli, younger sibling extrodinaire, lead his team to victory. While the Giants get the rings, we younger siblings everywhere get redemption.
Thanks Eli - sweet, sweet Eli.
Who knows? Maybe next year Peyton's jersey will read "Eli's Big Brother"...