Sunday, October 21, 2007


So many people in the media business come from the same locale they cover. Even in a city like New York, you can tell who came from Atlanta and who came from around the way when people speak. It possibly explains the jadedness of some sports scribes and talkies that covered the teams they grew up loving from afar. Now for these folks, being on the inside doesn’t seem as wonderful and glamorous as it did when they were in college, trying to land the coolest gigs possible. Yet, there are plenty of us that can keep the personal affection separate from the professional obligation.

For me, Sunday, October 21, 2007 was a little different.

Though I have watched them in person at their home stadium as a fan, watching the San Francisco 49ers take on the New York Giants was about as strange of an internal conflict as you could get. In this business, you know that sort of game is coming, no matter how well or poorly the teams are playing. In so many ways, the team that you swore your allegiance to is the reason you got in the business in the first place. It’s in the back of your mind and you hope for the best scenario: your favorite teams wins, even though your professional team’s lockerroom will have a somber feel after the game.

The start of my love affair for sports came from the Niners, despite my New York City roots. Maybe it was the West Coast offense or their vastly-underrated defenses in the 1980s and 1990s or even the pretty red-and-gold uniforms, but I was hooked on the game of football because of this team. Maybe it was finally taking in a game at Candlestick Park back on New Year’s Day 2006 that still had me a little amped. No matter, I was and still remain a long-distance member of the Niner Faithful. However, my professional allegiances currently align with the Giants, one of many teams that I grew up absolutely hating with every fiber of my nine-year old being. As time has passed and both franchises have seen their fair share of ups, downs and classic moments, my rage against Big Blue has become respect as I have spent the two+ years covering the team. In my first year as a writer for the Beacon, I covered a handful of Giants and Jets games, getting familiar with the scene of a different sport being that I had also taken baseball and basketball assignments. When I became the designated Giants reporter last season, I not only got to familiarize myself with the players, but I have found a greater understanding of the game overall watching from high above in the press box.

This was a game that I figured would be a slaughter, considering how well the Giants’ defense has played over the last four weeks and how inconsistent the 49ers’ offense has been all season. It was going to be ugly, that much I knew, yet how ugly was the question. Seeing Trent Dilfer swallowed up by the Giants’ defensive line hurt my soul, but gave my recorder good quotes to feed itself from. Watching Osi Umenyiora return his fumble recovery for a touchdown in the penalty-laden third quarter comical, but not as comical as thinking that the Niners’ offensive line had a chance to contain him all game long. It’s possible that some day in about two years, I can tell folks that I witnessed the emergence of a great defense in the Bay Area as they went through their growing pains against a veteran-heavy, well-tested offense like New York’s. I wanted to give Coach Mike Nolan a hug, but something told me that Tom Coughlin wouldn’t have appreciated that.

So at game’s end, San Francisco is 1-1 when I have come to see them, winning at home against the Houston Texans in the “Bush Bowl” nearly two years ago and drop a road game in my backyard against a Giants team with a huge chip on its shoulder. I’m not a jinx, I’d like to think, but Frank Gore didn’t think of me as a lucky charm, either. These sorts of conflicts happen and one would hope that professionalism would win out. Yet, when I left Giants Stadium, I couldn’t help but to still have a little bit of that nine-year old in me that curses the Giants for using the 49ers as tackling dummies for three hours. Damn them.

Hey, at least San Francisco isn’t in as bad shape as Miami.

Say What?!?!: Speaking of the Dolphins, looking ahead to the 2008 NFL Draft, pigskin pundits are already tossing the coin between Miami and the St. Louis Rams as neither team has won a game so far this season. Quarterback does not seem to be the immediate need for both teams as the Rams locked up Marc Bulger at the start of the season and the Fins drafted BYU slinger John Beck back in April. Both have struggled defensively as Miami’s best players are entering the twilight of their careers and St. Louis can’t seem to match their speed with the power of most offenses they play. Which is why the number one overall pick next spring will be intriguing. While the top player rating will likely be Arkansas RB Darren McFadden, these two teams may already be tracking down Michigan OT Jake Long and LSU DT Glen Dorsey. Both teams need line help, notably offensive, as Bulger and RB Steven Jackson had been knocked out of games this season due to injury. With Beck as the future QB for Miami and Ronnie Brown, Long will be the most desired player. However, St. Louis can use a space-eating interior lineman like Dorsey that can let the Rams run free as they were constructed to do while Miami can take pressure off of Jason Taylor as the Dolphins decide to replace an aging defense.

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