STEVE OUELLETTE, You Had to Ask
---- — The interminable countdown to the Super Bowl is well under way, with another excruciating week remaining before our culture's biggest annual event.
This year, the Super Bowl carries more meaning to our region than to most. A majority of area residents root for the New York Giants. A loud and significant minority, however, have snuck over the border from Vermont and proudly sport the colors of the New England Patriots.
The two fan bases, frankly, don't mix well, with nothing in common but a shared hatred for the J-E-T-S Jets. Soon friendly wagers are going to turn into family squabbles, office fistfights and neighborhood shotgun blasts.
Can't we all just get along? I want to urge the fans of both teams to curb their natural impulses. Don't overturn that car. Don't spray paint your friend's cat in Big Blue hues. Don't lose your civility.
Above all, do not taunt. Not only is taunting rude, it will jinx your team. Something bad will happen, and for all of eternity you will know, deep inside, that it was your fault.
What could possibly go wrong just because you sent 112 identical video clips of David Tyree to your Patriots-loving co-worker? I'm glad you asked.
I've unpacked my crystal ball — which proved flawless in the years MCMXCV through MMIV. The possible futures are many, and all of them are bleak.
The jinxed Giants could lose because …▶ Wide receiver Hakeem Nicks, enraged by a phone call to WFAN in which "Sal from the Bronx" said that Nicks will never be as good as David Tyree, decides to try catching every one of Eli Manning's Super Bowl passes with his helmet instead of his hands.
▶ The Giants, who share a home field with the Jets, mistakenly load Mark Sanchez on the team plane instead of Eli Manning.
▶ Filled with compassion for 49ers punt returner Kyle Williams — who received death threats after his multiple miscues gave the Giants a victory in the NFC Championship Game — Giants' owner John Mara decides to sign Williams and place him on the Super Bowl roster. The Patriots punt several times on first and second downs, and 12 fumbles later ...
▶ Mara's niece, actress Rooney Mara — still in frightening character from "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" — chains defensive end Osi Umenyiora in a rat-filled furnace room at the Meadowlands and refuses to release him until he confesses on Swedish TV that he is her real uncle.
▶ Giants running back Ahmad Bradshaw is devoured by New England's impossibly nimble 400-pound defensive tackle Vince Wilfork.
▶ Eli Manning, showing the true meaning of brotherly love, donates his own neck to replace the one that is ailing brother Peyton.
▶ Coach Tom Coughlin, rumored to be fired every December since 2007, is finally canned, 17 minutes before kickoff. He takes his playbook, headset and the universal love of his players with him.
▶ Leading by four in the closing seconds, Giants backup QB Joe Pisarcik fumbles the ball, and ESPN analyst Herman Edwards returns it for the winning touchdown.
The outlook, of course, could be just as bleak for the Patriots …▶ Tom Brady suffers a crisis of confidence and announces that he's leaving the team to become a house husband — even cutting short his press conference when Giselle texts him that she needs her toenails painted.
▶ Results of a blood test show that superhuman tight end Rob Gronkowski is actually an alien-Kodiak bear hybrid, with only 5 percent human in his DNA — far below the league-mandated minimum of 35 percent.
▶ Vince Wilfork devours both 5-foot-1 wide receiver Wes Welker and 4-foot-11 running back Danny Woodhead. Still hungry, he stalks a starting offensive lineman ...
▶ Offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien is so busy prepping for his new job at Penn State that he completely forgets to create an offensive game plan. The Patriots hand the ball off to the fullback on the first 19 plays.
▶ Head coach Bill Belichick becomes lost inside his stylish hoodie, misses the team bus and ends up in Chicago on game day. Or a frustrated reporter beats Belichick unconscious with a microphone and screams "Now will you give me an answer!?" Or Belichick feels guilty about abandoning the Jets 12 years ago and returns to the Meadowlands in green.
Don't taunt. The price is too high.
THE PICK: New England 31, New York 27. But to be honest, I'm scared that this crystal ball might be broken.
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