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Going Out with a Bang: Thanks, Eli!

January 24th, 2020 · No Comments · Back in the Day, NFL, Sports Journalism

February 3, 2008. Super Bowl 42.

New York Giants 17, New England Patriots 14.

That would be the 12-point underdog Giants taking down the 18-0 Patriots, who were out to become the first 19-0 champs in NFL history.

And I was there.

How lucky was I? I covered what still is the most dramatic and memorable Super Bowl ever played.

Four days later, I was laid off by the L.A. News Group, after 32 years.

Cut it pretty close, for sure, but no one could take that Super Bowl from me. I have the online version of the column I wrote on deadline to prove it.

And I have Eli Manning to thank for it.

It was 2008, as noted, and the newspaper industry implosion was really picking up speed. I figured I was in trouble, because of age and salary level, but I didn’t think I would be gone before the week was up.

At least I saw a hell of a game. The late Giants drive, the unforgettable Helmet Catch by backup receiver David Tyree on third-and-5 from their own 45. A play that happened only because Eli Manning, the Giants quarterback, somehow eluded the Patriots’ pass-rushers to chuck the ball for a 32-yard completion that set up the decisive touchdown.

Earlier in that quarter, the Patriots had taken a 14-10 lead, after an 89-yard drive that looked decisive, but the Giants went the length of the field … and Eli hooked up with Plaxico Burress for a 13-yard TD with 35 seconds left, and Eli, who this week announced his retirement, was the MVP of the game.

It was my last “hare-brain scheme” for the only newspaper I had known. “Get a media credential, make the four-hour drive to Arizona, get to the still-new stadium, file on deadline, make a four-hour drive home, stay awake behind the wheel, arriving home about midnight.

Just the basic 15-hour day with a Super Bowl in the middle. I did stuff like that, back in the day.

Full disclosure: I didn’t actually see the final drive with my own eyes. When the Patriots took the lead, I got up and marched outside the stadium and over to the media work room — to begin writing about the climax of the Patriots’ dream season.

Watching the end of games from the press room is not an uncommon practice, among journalists. The NFL gave me a ticket but not a working station, in the stands, and I needed a table — like the ones they had in the media tent.

So, yeah, my last big assignment. The best Super Bowl ever played.

I can live with that.


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