Well, well, well, it’s finally here, the annual preseason game between the Giants and the Jets, aka the lamest titled rivalry game in sports (the MetLife Bowl) with the lamest nickname (the Snoopy Bowl) and the lamest trophy.
Yup, the game is named after the stadium the two teams share; nicknamed after the mascot of the stadium sponsor; and the trophy is a knockoff of college football’s Heisman Trophy. Since this game is meaningless in the standings, we have time to digress toward an equally meaningless exercise, and that’s renaming this annual game, giving it a new nickname and creating a new trophy.
New name: The Giants Bowl.
Why: The old stadium was named for the Giants and they agreed to allow the Jets to share Giants Stadium after the Jets lost their security deposit at Shea Stadium (or something approximating that). Anyway, the Giants have won four Super Bowls (and two in the last decade) and the Jets haven’t even reached the Super Bowl since before the moon landing. The name of the bowl should reflect the stadium occupant who has won the Super Bowl the most recently. See, we’re not saying it should always be called the Giants Bowl; only that it should be that until the Jets win their next Super Bowl. No need to rebrand every year when you can do it every five decades.
New nickname: The Big Blue Bowl.
Why: Big Blue is the Giants nickname, and the nickname should be some reflection of the actual bowl name. If the Giants were named the Yankees, an appropriate nickname might be the Pinstripe Bowl. Feel free to steal that name. Similar to the official name of this rivalry game – the Giants Bowl – the nickname would depend on the team that has most recently been king of New York football. So, yeah, there’s always hope that sometime down the line we can refer to this as the Gang Green Bowl. Now how’s that for imagery?
New trophy: A big apple, preferably solid gold. No need to slap an old leather football helmet on it or to make it do the Heisman pose – since, ya know, this is professional football.
Now that we’ve settled that important matter, let’s move on to the game itself. This is each team’s third preseason game, commonly referred to as the “dress rehearsal game,” as it’s the preseason contest when starters are expected to see their most extensive action before being placed in bubble wrap for the fourth and final preseason game, only to be opened in time for Week One.
If you watched the first few minutes of the Cowboys’ third preseason game against the Seahawks on Thursday, you saw Tony Romo get knocked out on the third play, all but assuring the advent of the Dak Prescott era in Dallas. Cowboys fans, a delusional lot by nature, think Prescott is the second coming of Roger Staubach, so many of them are probably shrugging off the latest injury to Romo's cork-stuffed back. If something similar happened to the Giants and Eli Manning, the rush to buy Ryan Nassib jerseys would probably pale in comparison.
But let’s not talk about injuries. Let’s talk about, um, Victor Cruz.
The salsa king is returning to game action after nearly two years away. He blew out his patellar tendon against the Eagles in October 2014, then struggled all last season with a calf problem. Most recently he’s been battling a groin injury. Will he ever return to the Pro Bowl-level that made him a fan favorite? If he does, this offense is going to be ridiculously good – with Cruz in the slot joining Odell Beckham Jr., rookie wideout Sterling Shepard, running back Rashad Jennings and professional Swiss Army knife Shane Vereen.
These guys are presumably all going to get a lot of run against the Jets, who in turn will likely be unleashing their full-capacity defense for at least two quarters. If you combined the Giant offense and the Jet defense, you might have a squad capable of beating the NFL’s 75th anniversary team. Alas, the Jets still have Ryan Fitzpatrick under center.
Last year I extolled the virtues of Fitzmagic, the kind of gun-slinging quarterback who was perfectly suited to an offense with playmakers like Brandon Marshall and red zone studs like Eric Decker. And I was right – until I wasn’t.
Fitzpatrick threw three crippling interceptions in the team’s embarrassing Week 17 loss to the Bills and former Jets coach Rex Ryan, squelching the team’s playoff chances. Now he’s back, and a team that’s added Matt Forte at running back (and still has plenty of weapons on offense) is relying on the Harvard graduate to avoid spontaneous combustion when the chips are down.
The Jets might win this meaningless dress rehearsal against the Giants. But I feel safe in saying this annual rivalry game will be known as the Giants Bowl (at least to me) for the foreseeable future.