Friday, October 9, 2009

Bringing on the Wrecking Ball

Tonight we reach the end of the farewell stand of shows that Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band have played at Giants Stadium. We are not yet saying goodbye to Bruce and the boys. No, we the good people of New Jersey are saying goodbye to a perfectly functional football stadium. A stadium which only opened for business less than thirty-five years ago.

I have a difficult time accepting as true that a structure that is younger than I am is too old to live. Perhaps my difficulty accepting it is tied to the fact that as of night's end tonight I will have spent three nights out of the last eight on the floor of the old gal - in the company of my wife. I really do not need Margaret getting the idea that anything (or anyone) older than thirty-five can be easily replaced. I am too old to find a new gig. Age aside, I am seriously unskilled.

Once upon a time (OK, starting in 1976) I used to make a trip or two each football season to Giants Stadium. When Sonny Werblin helped put the deal together that moved the Jints across the river to the Jersey side he made a phone call to his old friend - my father - and jumped us past thirty-plus years of fans on the waiting list for season tickets and got us into the building. I have not sat in our seats for years - since Rob was a little boy and we sat through every endless minute of a meaningless pre-season game against the Steelers - but I can see them vividly in my mind's eye: Section 327, Row 8, Seats 8 and 9.

I have seen a lot of interesting things at Giants Stadium - separate and apart from Springsteen and his band mates (who I have had the pleasure of seeing at least one dozen times in this venue). Not all of the experiences have been pleasant. Kara and I bore witness to "the Fumble". Russ and I were present when Flipper Anderson burned Mark Collins deep in overtime, hauled in a long pass and then ran all the way through the end zone, up the tunnel and into the NFC Conference Championship in 1990. I was sitting by myself on the Monday night in 1982 when the Giants got thrashed by the Green Bay Packers in the final game played before the NFL went on strike.

But I have also been present for some pretty cool moments as well. Mike Koplowitz and I sat downstairs in his seats (his dad had seats on the fifty-yard line) on a Saturday afternoon in December that was so cold that his mom sent us to the game with sleeping bags.....that we sat inside of while in our seats and rooted the Giants to an overtime win over the Cowboys, which helped propel the G-Men into the playoffs in 1981. Russ and I were there - upstairs in our seats in January 1987 when the Giants annihilated Joe Montana and the 49ers on their way to winning their first Super Bowl.

Tonight will be the final night I spend in Giants Stadium. The too-young-to-die stadium that is being replaced by a behemoth that the Giants and the Jets will continue to share - and in which the super rich families who own the two franchises (the Johnsons, the Maras and the Tisches) are soaking their fans for Personal Seat Licenses. Other than the PSLs and the revenue they want to generate from them, there appears to be little reason for firing the kill shot at Giants Stadium - although I must confess that the prospect of 490 more urinals is exciting. One can never have enough choices when it comes to seeing a man about a horse.

At this venue, I have seen champions come and go. Tonight I shall again - one final time. Sleep well old gal. And thanks for the memories.

.....well, except for that damn Pisarcik fumble.

-AK

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