Posts Tagged ‘South Jersey’

Confessions of a Michael Vick-loving Giants Fan

I live in New Jersey.  Let the jokes begin.  Sure we are known for the “Jersey Shore” reality TV show, the Sopranos and other ridiculously exaggerated representations of our state.  But New Jersey also has many other features that make it truly “special”.  What other state has a 24 hour diner every few miles?  Where else can you learn to navigate a “jug handle” and do it with attitude?  If you’re not from New Jersey, you are probably scratching your head about the exact meaning of a jug handle.  Drive here some time and you will discover this creative traffic phenomenon.

Unlike New Hampshire or New Mexico, we are so unique that people often drop the “New” part of our name and simply call us “Jersey”.   Did you ever hear anyone refer to the home state of the Yankees as “York”?  So while we are used as a punch line for late night comedians, our many distinctive qualities at least keep us from being boring!

Unless you live here, you may not realize that we are also a state divided.  New Jersey is basically two giant suburbs.  Southern Jersey seems like one huge Philadelphia suburb, while the north is like a giant suburb of New York City.  For such a little state, we are quite defensive about our residency.  Ask a Jersey native where they grew up, and the answer will be North Jersey, Central Jersey, or South Jersey – never, ever merely NEW Jersey! 

 In the South, if you want to order some turkey and Swiss cheese in a long roll, it is called a hoagie.  In the North, it is called a sub.  Want some of those tiny multicolored candy bits on your ice cream?  South Jersey locals call them jimmies, while many in North Jersey call them sprinkles.  When it comes to sports, the division is even more palpable.  South Jersey residents root for the Eagles and Northerners cheer for the Giants.  What about the Jets, you ask?  They seem to have a following that defies boundaries.

As a resident of Northern NJ, I have been a faithful NY Giants fan for years.  Though they are the NEW YORK Giants, we host them here at the Meadowlands and I consider them our very own team.  I root for Big Blue week in and week out.  There are NY Giants football ornaments on my Christmas tree, a tiny neurotic Maltese who wears a Big Blue jersey every Sunday and a multitude of other Giants paraphernalia filling my house.  As a loyal Giants fan, I have despised two teams – the Eagles and the Cowboys – with a hatred that would make any Giants enthusiast proud.

But I have a deep, dark secret that I am slowly starting to reveal to others.  I LOVE Philadelphia Eagles QB Michael Vick.  Despite years of perfecting my disdain for the Eagles, I now find myself a closet cheerleader for #7.  I sneak peeks at him on TV, while no one is looking.  Even more shocking, he is my starting QB on my fantasy team and when he plays against the Giants, I feel like a traitor cheering for both him AND Eli.

My Vick obsession was not born out of his recent NFL success.  I was a Vick fan way back when he was the thrilling QB for the Virginia Tech Hokies.  His pure, raw athleticism and ability to make defenders fall helplessly to the ground are magical to me.  Like Michigan’s Denard Robinson, Vick is simply fun and exciting to watch.

I cheered for Vick when he was an Atlanta Falcon and felt betrayed when he fell from grace after being involved in dog fighting.  As a dog owner, I was disgusted by Vick’s actions.  My heart broke as I watched this man of great promise crumble before my very eyes. 

When he went to prison, I never dreamed he would return as a better man.  But redemption is very real and Michael Vick made the decision to repent.  When he was released from incarceration, he truly tried to turn his life around.  He began speaking to young people about the evils of dog fighting and the consequences of making bad decisions.  As I watched and listened to him, I sensed a man with gratitude and with a brand new outlook on life.

Then the unexpected occurred.  He got picked up by my nemesis – the Philadelphia Eagles!  At first, I could hide in the shadows, just lurking around to watch Vick as he got in for an occasional play or two.  As time passed, my affection for Vick once again returned, until finally, last winter I crossed the line.  It was a few weeks before Christmas and my beloved Giants were hosting our arch enemy, the Eagles.  As Sunday approached, I heard more and more mumblings from fellow Giants fans about “Evil Michael Vick”.  There were crude jokes and all sorts of mean, derogatory statements about him.  I found myself feeling very defensive.   Before I knew it, I was making a gigantic poster to take to the game.  It read..

I am a Giants Fan

And a Dog Owner

And I STILL Love Michael Vick

Then, being the nerd that I am, I drew a Christmas tree and finished off my little art project with the phrase “Tis the Season for Forgiveness”.

Any teenage girl who has ever had a big crush can tell you that when it comes to things like this, reason goes out the window.  Therefore, without thinking about the consequences, I proudly carried my sign through the Meadowlands parking lot, dressed head to toe in Giants clothing.  The reaction was not pretty.  Sure, I was booed.  But since it was a night game and many fans had been tailgating for a few hours, I got lots of intoxicated rants that would make even Tony Soprano blush.  Before I reached the turnstiles, I crumbled my sign and cowardly threw it in the trash.  

By last spring, I was once again a full-blown Michael Vick fan, but wisely decided to keep my dark little secret to myself.  After all, I live in North Jersey and am a Giants fan.  After my Meadowlands melodrama, I didn’t want another confrontation. 

But when Vick became the starter for the Eagles, I could not contain my excitement.  I simply had to cheer for him.  He was playing like the Vick I first saw at Virginia Tech, but even better!  He no longer relied solely on his legs and pure athletic ability, but now he was reading defenses and using his arm to beat opponents as well.  Again, like a school girl with a crush, I found myself online ordering a Michael Vick Eagles jersey.

The Giants and Eagles face each other this Sunday.   The winner of this game will be in first place in the NFC East.  As I post this blog, I know my secret is out.  They say confession is good for the soul, but football (and a division rivalry game for 1st place) is as serious as it gets.  I am not sure my friends and family who are Giants fans will ever, ever forgive me.

On Sunday, I will proudly wear my Michael Vick jersey and still cheer for the Giants.  Unconventional?  Yes, I suppose it is.  But for this weekend, I will neither be from North Jersey nor from South Jersey.  Instead, I will simply be from Jersey and divide my loyalties between both the Eagles AND the Giants.  Wish me luck getting through the parking lot!

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