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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The reason why both local grid teams won't go to the playoffs

It's supposed to be a big game on Christmas Eve and for all intents and purposes, it is.

After all, the Giants will face the Jets in a do-or-die for both teams. Win and the season remains alive. Lose and you're going home early.

So Saturday's game is exactly what everyone wanted -- a playoff game before the playoffs.

However, it could actually serve as a precursor to what may take place in two weeks, with both teams actually out of the playoffs. No one alive would have imagined that scenario when the season began in a rush last August. There were high hopes and expectations in both training camps.

A lot of things can still take place between now and New Year's Day. There could be some miraculous way they both get in, but it's unlikely.

However, before the Giants' ownership begins to put the blame on Tom Coughlin and the Jets' brass points fingers at the brash Rex Ryan, they should take a deep look and point the fingers at the real reason why the teams have struggled this season.

Ready? It's themselves. They should blame themselves, first and foremost. They should take a long look in the mirror and like Bill Parcells used to say all the time, blame the man in the glass.

Because it's the greed and avarice of both ownerships that have caused this upcoming mess. The greed to get as much money as possible in terms of Personal Seat Licenses and luxury boxes and higher priced tickets and money and money and money.

Both the Giants and the Jets owners believed that they had to have a new stadium, that Giants Stadium had outlived its purpose -- even if the place still hadn't been fully paid for by New Jersey taxpayers.

Nope, they needed a new home. So the Jets flirted with the West Side of Manhattan, but they knew that really couldn't work. The Giants desperately needed more luxury boxes than they needed defensive backs. Thus, the billion dollar edifice now known as MetLife Stadium was born.

And with the building of the new stadium and the destruction of the old, both teams lost any home field advantage they once enjoyed.

True, the Jets never had a chance to call Giants Stadium their very own. They were rentors and were the second-class residents.

But the Giants certainly owned a home field advantage after they became relevant again under Ray Perkins, becoming a playoff team once again in 1981.

Need proof? How about the NFC championship game against the Redskins that sent the Giants to their first Super Bowl? The wind was swirling like a cyclone that far exceeded the funnel that sent Dorothy Gale's house spinning towards Oz. Jay Schroeder was slapped silly that day and had no chance of calling out a play because the fans were in a complete frenzy.

How about the day the Giants destroyed the Vikings in another NFC championship game? The fans were so amped up on Kerry Collins and Greg Canella, of all people, scored a touchdown. The Giants won, 41-0, and that place rocked.

Whenever the Giants' opponents got third-and-long in Giants Stadium, the crowd would spring to their feet and you couldn't hear yourself think.

Even the Jets enjoyed a feeling of home advantage, when Fireman Ed would get on someone's shoulders and lead the chants in the lower deck at the 25-yard line.

Now? It's a country club mentality. There's no home field advantage. The people who go to the games now are more content with their wine and bree in the parking lot instead of making noise. Oh, there's a game today? Pass the poupon.

It has really destroyed the home base at Giants' games. Need proof? The Giants have dropped home games this year to Seattle, Philadelphia and Washington, all teams that entered the pretty new building with losing records.

In the old days, Lawrence Taylor would have eaten those teams for lunch. Hell, even Michael Strahan would have feasted on the also-rans.

If you're an elite team in the NFL, you don't lose at home, no matter who the opponent is. You win your home games, try to go .500 on the road and go to the playoffs. Simple as that.

And you win the games against the inferior teams. The Giants haven't done that this year _ and it's their own fault for getting rid of their most avid fans with the ridiculous and greed-based PSLs and for building a new stadium when the old one was perfectly fine.

For years, the NFL has been a license to print money for the league's owners. Money flowed like the Nile. Merchandising, TV revenues were in the millions before a single ticket was sold.

Now, there's all the other crap like PSLs and luxury boxes and it has killed the Giants' loyal fan base. The same can be said for the Jets as well.

So congratulations. You have a new stadium. It's pretty. It's a little absurd to get to your seat once you get inside and you can park in Carlstadt unless you have a PSL-preferred parking spot. But it's new.

However, there's no home field advantage at all. None. And that's the biggest reason why both teams might be standing on the outside, gaping in at the upcoming playoffs.

Sure, some may blame the coaches. In this corner, I blame the greedy owners who wanted more money than they know what to do with.

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It's almost unfathomable that there are all these cases of child predators in the sports world, the latest being Hall of Fame baseball writer Bill Conlin of the Philadelphia Daily News.

Conlin abruptly retired Tuesday after it was learned that a story was about to come out how Conlin, who was also a big part of ESPN's Sports Reporters for ages, sexually assaulted four youngsters, two of whom were his own nieces, in the 1970s.

The story has now come to light because of the Jerry Sandusky story in Penn State and the Bernie Fine case in Syracuse. The victims told the Philadelphia Inquirer reporter that they couldn't keep silent any longer after hearing the details of the other incidents.

So they revealed their past with the Philadelphia Inquirer reporter, who did a masterful job in reporting a very tough issue. Conlin was presented with the news of the story and immediately retired.

It's just a little unsettling that these stories are now the commonplace reads in general sports sections.

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Merry Christmas to all....enjoy the holidays

You can read more of my work at www.hudsonreporter.com, www.theobserver.com and www.dailyrecord.com. In this week's editions of the Reporter, there's the incredible comeback story of North Bergen basketball coach Kevin Bianco, who has endured two battles with leukemia.

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