Michael Rosenberg / Special to FOXSports.com
Posted: 1 hour ago
Congratulations, Giants fans! Your team is in the playoffs. And do you know what this means?
That's right! You have to watch this team for one more week!
Has there ever been a less satisfying NFL playoff team than these Giants? They are 8-8, tied for the worst record ever among playoff teams. And that might be the best thing you can say about them.
What is the worst you could say? It's a five-way tie between ...
1. They lost six of the final eight games.
2. Their best player, Tiki Barber, is about to retire in the prime of his career. He is only 31.
3. Their franchise quarterback, Eli Manning, appears to be regressing.
4. The players they traded for that quarterback play important roles for what appears to be the best team in the league. Philip Rivers, Shawne Merriman and Nate Kaeding are doing just fine in San Diego, thank you.
5. The window of opportunity for this group of Giants is widely believed to be closing. And the man who put them together, Ernie Accorsi, is about to retire.
The Giants earned their spot in the playoffs by squeaking past a finished Redskins team Saturday night. Even Manning has admitted that the way the Giants have played, you would think they would be finished by now,
The Giants had Super Bowl aspirations at the start of the year. Now they don't even look like they can win one playoff game. And even if they do, what would that mean?
The Giants' first opponent, the Eagles, were left for dead after Donovan McNabb got hurt. If Eli Manning leads New York to a squeaker over Jeff Garcia, who looked washed-up a year ago, does that make the season a success?
A Giants win would also have other implications: it might just save Tom Coughlin's job, and there isn't much evidence that his job is worth saving. For the second half of this season, Coughlin appeared to have lost his team. Normally, the next step for a coach is to lose his job.
In this era of expanded postseasons in every sport, we have seen a lot of mediocre or listless teams make the playoffs. But the NFL is not supposed to be like the NBA or NHL. Making the NFL playoffs is supposed to mean something. It is supposed to be an achievement.
The Giants' postseason berth doesn't feel like an achievement, unless you are the kind of person who goes home from the beach proud that you didn't drown.
Imagine if the NFC actually had several really good teams. (I apologize for taxing your imagination here — if you get a headache, send me the bill for the Tylenol.) The Giants would have been left out of the playoffs, just like almost every other 8-8 team in NFL history.
And, considering the expectations last summer, the season would have been considered an utter failure.
Instead, the Giants get to live for another week. Maybe even two. And then Giants fans can mourn the departure of Barber, or hope he changes his mind. Barber sounds set on his decision, and for good reason,
If anybody thinks Barber is crazy for retiring so early, I have one question: have you ever watched an NFL game up close — from the really good seats or the sideline? I have. The athleticism is breathtaking, but so is the violence. There is a reason so many 50-something NFL players can barely walk. The human body is not meant to take this much pounding into its 30s.
Barber is almost certainly gone.
So are the Giants.
Especially this line...but we all know that already....