The Philadelphia Eagles slapped the New York Giants around the gridiron for four quarters Sunday evening, treating them like recalcitrant children who shouldn't be playing a man's game, and eventually winning by a touchdown.
Thus the Eagles have kept their dismal season alive, and made the job of reaching playoffs harder for the Giants who now have lost two in a row, which should make Bill Sternberg happy, although I am none too pleased about it.
But this isn't so much about the Giants and Eagles as much as it is about Bill Sternberg and the time I almost was wrong in a blog column.
If you go to the archives on my blog site and dig way back into February 2008, you will find that I wrote about the Giants facing the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl that year. I also mentioned that I had been a Giants fan since my grade school days when Bill Sternberg got me interested in football.
You see, I grew up in a deprived household in that my father, who played semi-pro basketball and baseball, never gave a damn about football - although my cousins and uncles were big fans. Thus, while I could talk Mantle and Mays and Berra, read extensively about Roy Campanella and even could give somewhat of a history lesson on people like Ruth and Gehrig, I knew next to nothing about downs and field goals and halfbacks or even quarterbacks.
Then I heard Bill Sternberg talking excitedly one day in what was probably the 8th grade, about some guy named Y. A. Tittle. Turns out he was the former quarterback for the 49ers, heading to the New York Giants and I figured if he was good enough for Sternberg he was good enough for me.
It has been a very long time since the 8th grade and a year longer since the 7th grade which figures in this and I'll get to it in a minute.
But two weeks ago I received a phone call from another old friend from days gone by, my pal Bob Soloyna, known to those of us who hung together way back then as The Rock. He was called that because Soloyna was and is, strong, very strong, and he eventually fought a bunch of heavyweight boxing matches out in the Pacific Fleet during his many tours to Vietnam with the US Navy.
My understanding is that if he got into the ring someone was going to be knocked out and it wasn't The Rock.
Anyway, Bob, who lives in the same neighborhood where we grew up, only a mile or so from his family home, and about the same distance from Sternberg, called and asked if I would be interested in meeting them at the Red Lion Inn, in Stockbridge, Massachusetts for lunch the following week.
I agreed, called my buddy John, known in these parts as The Duke, and the following Wednesday we took off for Massachusetts.
However, when I was talking with Bob Soloyna he had the phone on speaker so I could also talk with Bill Sternberg, whom I had not seen in about 20 years. Bill said he had heard about the column I wrote in which I attributed my interest in Giants football to him, because even though he wouldn't be caught dead on the Internet, he did have a co-worker who read the column.
As we spoke I said that I remembered him talking about Y. A. Tittle, who was a quarterback first for for the Colts and then the 49ers until the 49ers traded him to the Giants in 1961, the year we graduated from the 8th grade. I said I became a Giants fan due to Bill liking them, a statement that was greeted at the time with silence.
A week later, at the Red Lion Inn the silence ended when Bill said he was never, ever, no way in hell a Giants fan and had been an Eagles fan since the 7th grade! The Eagles! We grew up in upstate New York where we had so many professional sports teams from which to choose that you never had to go further west than Buffalo or further south than Brooklyn, and Sternberg opts to be a lifetime fan of the Eagles! AAARRRGGGHHH!
Oh, before I forget it, if you want a really good meal in really comfortable surroundings try the Red Lion Inn. You can choose from the dining room which is very nice, but not too formal, or the lounge which is done up in dark wood, everywhere, and which we really liked. I got a pint of the Berkshire Brewing Company Extra Pale Ale which was great, and I highly recommend the sausage and cheddar soup.
Anyway, Bill straightened me out on his favorite sports teams, which also includes the Cincinnati Reds, another selection that defies explanation, but hey, this is America after all. And get this, he and Soloyna both remembered that they declared their intentions way back in the 7th grade.
And then they start talking sports history as if it was still 1959, so much so that I could envision my late Dad sitting in the living room doing the same thing while watching his favorite baseball team - the Cleveland Indians! My father came to America from Scotland when he was in grade school, and worked as an usher at Yankee Stadium when he was a teen.
He could tell you the seating layout at Dodger Stadium as well, and was a walking encyclopedia of sports trivia from the New York teams especially, yet when he grows up he becomes a fan of CLEVELAND? What was in the water back then? I mean, I can understand him being pissed at the Dodgers and (baseball) Giants for leaving New York in 1958 and heading out west, but hell, the Yankees are still there!
Anyway, when I got home from lunch I went immediately to my column archives with the sick feeling inside that I had gotten it wrong about Bill and determined to correct a three year old error. Turns out, I didn't have to.
As I reread my column from 2008 I realized that when I wrote it I remembered Bill being the first guy to mention Y.A. Tittle, but never actually saying he liked the guy. And since I wasn't sure whether Bill was actually a Giants fan, I never said he was!
So I don't have to correct an old column, but at least I can correct any erroneous impressions I may have left behind.
I also want to make a point about my favorite teams. I like the Giants and even though they brought their "B" game to the field the last two weeks, I still am wearing one of my Giants sweatshirts as I write this. But I also have a second tier of teams that I usually don't get to see on Sundays but generally keep an eye on just because they have certain something about them.
These include the Green Bay Packers, Oakland Raiders, San Francisco 49ers, even though they don't like the Raiders and vice versa, Da Bears, and the Buffalo Bills. They are all good teams who play hard, tough football, and have legions of loyal fans, of which the Cheeseheads in Green Bay really stand out.
And I should point out that I have family in the Philadelphia area, some of whom obviously have been brainwashed and don't see me enough because they too are Eagles fans - although my daughter enjoys going to Eagles games wearing a Giants jersey which I think is the height of in-your-face fandom.
She also has met Justin Tuck and I would invite Mr. Tuck, who played well yesterday even if many of his teammates did not, to tell the other members of the team that they have a five-foot, two-inch fan who wears their jerseys to Eagles games and takes on all comers, so why can't they?
Where the hell is their pride? Three perfect passes from Manning to wide open receivers dropped like hot potatoes?? C'mon!
Before I go I'd also like to leave you with a message regarding the Packers that came from a friend yesterday. Last year after the Packers-Bills game, Buffalo released quarterback Trent Edwards. During the Packers-Eagles game, the Packers injured Philadelphia quarterback Kevin Kolb.
Philadelphia then had to play backup quarterback Michael Vick. During a playoff game against the Eagles, the Packers injured Michael Vick and another backup was needed.
After the Packers-Cowboys game, Dallas fired Wade Phillips and most of his staff. After the Packers-Vikings game, Minnesota fired Brad Childress and most of his staff.
Four weeks after losing to the Packers, the 49er's coach Mike Singletary and most of his staff were fired and replaced. During the Bears Playoff game, the Packers injured Jay Cutler and backup Todd Collins forcing the Bears to go with 3rd string quarterback Caleb Hanie.
Here's the question ... Did the Packers create more jobs last year than Obama?
And you thought this was only about football.
Still, after all these years I have to face the realization that Bill Sternberg is a lifelong Eagles fan. Oh well, I suppose it could be worse. He could have been rooting for the Cowboys, or the Redskins!
Monday, November 21, 2011