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In Packers and Steelers, New York Sees Nothing But Missed Opportunities

Jets and Giants fans can share one thing this season: Grief

By Josh Alper
|  Tuesday, Feb 1, 2011  |  Updated 11:15 AM EDT
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The Knicks have an afternoon game against the Sixers, there are still a bunch of Oscar nominated movies to catch up on, the MOMA's got a great Abstract Expressionist exhibit and there's a new episode of Big Love at night.

Why in the world are you reading this list of potential ways to spend this Sunday? Because if you're anything like a good number of football fans in the New York area, the thought of actually sitting down and watching the Packers and the Steelers in the Super Bowl is about as inviting as flaying yourself with a rusty knife.

That's what happens when both local football teams end their seasons with something beyond typical levels of disappointment. The fact that those endings came at the hands of the two teams that will now be battling for the Super Bowl makes it all the more painful and sitting through the excruciatingly extended Super Bowl broadcast an exercise as exhausting as it is masochistic. 

Giants fans will have to sit there and listen to announcers fall all over themselves talking about how great the Packers are and how well they are playing while knowing that they were eight minutes away from slamming the door on their playoff hopes.

They doubled down on that failure the next week in Green Bay by letting themselves get used as a springboard by a Packers team that suddenly looked like a juggernaut. A juggernaut that would never have gotten a chance to make it to Dallas if it wasn't for the latest chapter in the follies that have marked the vast majority of the Tom Coughlin era with the Giants.

Even worse, the fact that this game pits the Steelers against the Packers dents the Giants' legacy. That seems insignificant, until you realize how often the Giants and their fans like to talk about the team's history as part of what makes them so great. A seventh title for the Steelers would make them the unquestioned standard bearer for the NFL while simply going to the game restores some polish to the Packers after the end of the Favre era threatened to knock them down a peg.

All bad and all made worse by the fact that it's all taking place at Cowboys Stadium where Jerry Jones will get tons of face time.

As for Jets partisans, the wounds are fresher and deeper. They were right there with a chance to play for the Lombardi Trophy but, as you're surely aware, failed to show up for the first half and failed to stop Ben Roethlisberger in the fourth quarter. The season died one drive away from glory, a painful finish that will only be amplified should Big Ben earn his third ring come Sunday.

Jets pain can't just focus on the end. There were so many missteps during the regular season that forced the team to play three road games instead of getting a home date and an overarching sense that this team found a way to both make the AFC Championship Game and badly underachieve this season. The Giants, for better or worse, seemed to reach their level this year but the Jets may find themselves feeling worse and worse about what they missed this season if they can't keep the band together for the years to come.

Whether you're blue with sadness or green with envy, doing something else this Sunday would be a swell idea. It probably won't happen, no one can escape the Super Bowl, but you might think twice about saying no to that 7:30 showing of "True Grit."

Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City and is a contributor to FanHouse.com and ProFootballTalk.com in addition to his duties for NBCNewYork.com. You can follow him on Twitter.

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