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Super Jersey

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For much of the season, Brett Favre has been the shiny object that has kept New York sports fans occupied while the Giants put together the most dominating regular season in their history. Favre brought out our Joe Namath superstar fantasies, and the Giants went through the drudgery of actually winning games. Now the paths of our two teams are converging. The Giants have looked like the best team in the NFC all year, and with their wins over the Patriots and previously undefeated Titans in successive weeks, the Jets now look like the best in the AFC. Not to get ahead of ourselves—though, of course, to get ahead of yourself is the very point of being a New York sports fan—but … what’s the football equivalent of the Subway Series? Meadowlands Mêlée? East Rutherford Rumble? The, um, Jersey Bowl? There’s already a blog set up promoting the notion of a Broadway Bowl, which has the obligatory Namath touch, and it feels like ours more than Jersey’s. Even if the game would be in Tampa.

The possibility of both teams playing in the Super Bowl is more real now than it’s been since 1986, when the Jets came within two games of a Super Bowl the Giants ultimately won. (George Burns performed at halftime.) It’s so real, in fact, that the NFL is concerned that both could end up with home field in their respective conference-championship games. Those games are on the same day, right after each other, which would be “logistically impossible,” according to the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority.

That the Giants would be major contenders this year has been evident from the beginning of the season, when they erupted with the kind of vigorous defense of their championship that’s increasingly rare in today’s era of roster turnover. But the Jets’ emergence has been a shock to everyone, perhaps most of all to their quarterback, who openly mused at the beginning of the year about whether he’d made the right decision to come here. But Favre and the Jets grew together this year, and he actually looks better than he did for most of the past decade in Green Bay.

The downside to the realization that a Broadway Bowl could happen is that it puts more pressure on both teams. They’ve both succeeded partly because of reduced expectations this year. But now a very big expectation has been raised.

It’s less clear whether it would be good for football: The 2000 Mets-Yankees World Series ratings were the lowest on record. Even with the drama of Brett Favre against Eli Manning … Eric Mangini against Tom Coughlin … the Super Bowl champs against Fireman Ed. But what do we care? The Super Bowl can be ours.

Have good intel? Send tips to intel@nymag.com.


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