The Super Bowl is overhyped and overheated, but at least this time, in SBXLII, it lived up to its billing. Mike Lupica of the New York Daily News, who always sees everything through a holier-than-thou, haughty Gotham prism, opened his column today by declaring the game to be "[t]he best Super Bowl of them all." Debatable, to be sure, but consider: The Patriots were trying to win their fourth Supe in seven seasons, and by going undefeated to boot, while back in September it was widely believed the Giants would be firing their coach, Tom Coughlin, because of a player mutiny. And Giants quarterback Eli Manning? He was still the source of plenty of jokes about his ability to do much of anything no more than a month ago. Yet somehow, some way the Giants did it. And in a word, it was incredible -- a prime example of the live, unpredictable drama that can make sports so captivating. There was a temptation to simply marvel at what the Patriots were about to achieve, to be awed by the historic enormity of a team going 19-0 in one season, especially in this era of free agency and frequent player movement. But eff that. These Patriots, from coach Bill Belichick on down, were flat-out unlikable. They have been arrogant and ungracious from the start, and Belichick's early exit from the field when the Giants got the ball back with one second remaining last night was thus the perfect coda. The Patriots had an amazing, remarkable season, but in the end, they got what they deserved, especially with Spygate about to come to Washington. And the New York Post, which published the NFL standings all season with an asterisk next to the Patriots, hilariously tagging them as cheaters, of course had great fun with the whole thing on its front page today. I'm no Giants fan, but they played with a fun, loose, nothing-to-lose spirit that was everything the Patriots weren't. What the Giants did was pretty damn cool. Good for them.
UPDATE: Dan Shaughnessy, in today's Boston Globe, swallows a little "humble pie" by pointing fingers at Belichick and at Ellis Hobbs, though he never once mentions his own pre-game arrogance with regard to the seeming inevitability of a Patriots victory. Can't have it all, I suppose.