The NFL Offseason Chronicles: An Open Letter To Sports Fans

In what is sure to be an interesting and often discussed series, Travis and company take a look at everything that took place in 2011, and try to make sense of what is to come!

Dear Dedicated Sports Fan,

My name is Travis Rand, I am 21 years old, and I live in Portland, Maine. Portland is a beautiful city, and there’s a lot to do around here, like drinking in the Old Port, going to Peaks Island for a day to take in some spectacular views, eating out at one of our many restaurants, or simply taking a stroll around the boulevard.

I haven’t always lived here. I was born in Watertown, New York, in the middle of a blizzard in mid January. My dad was in the military, and he and mom lived in New York, as he was stationed at Fort Drum. I spent nary a couple years there, and I don’t have a single memory of my family in New York. That’s why plenty of people scratch their heads when I tell them I am a true blue, New York sports fan.

I apologize if I seem to stumble back and forth, but I am having a hard time deciding where to go with this next. I guess I’ll start with Dad.

My dad is a huge Minnesota Vikings fan. I remember watching Randy Moss during his rookie season, and how happy my dad was watching football, and I immediately took a liking. I wanted to be different though, so I decided to roll the dice on a team from New York. The Jets donned a horrible green color, so the Giants it was.

It was around this time that I got my first game jersey ever, a white and red Danny Kanell jersey.

I guess this is also around the time that it gets a little conflicting. I was obsessed, and I mean OBSESSED, with the Boston Red Sox. I would beg my dad to let me watch NESN until I fell asleep on the couch, and he would come out every night and move me to my bed. Nomar was my hero, and the Pedro Martinez and Fred McGriff fight was the coolest thing I had ever seen.

Thank goodness I was young enough to not really be emotionally invested in the Giants up to this point, their Super bowl run in 2000, one that ended when we got absolutely pounded by Tony Siragusa and the Baltimore Ravens. I was however, old enough to be crushed in 2003, by none other than my beloved Sox.

In what remains my worst sports memory ever, Aaron Boone launched a home run over the Green Monster of Fenway Park, and Mariano got carried off the field on the shoulders of his team mates, at the conclusion of the ALCS. I clicked the television off, and I cried myself to sleep. Not afraid to admit it. A year later, however, I would experience my first sports memory worth keeping.

The Boston Red Sox staged an improbable comeback against the mighty New York Yankees, and when they finished off the St. Louis Cardinals in the World Series, I felt my eyes well up as they stormed the field. For me, it was my first sport’s high.

Somewhere along the way, my passion for baseball quickly diminished. I guess it was all about the chase, because after 2004 and 2005, I realized that baseball would never be my one true love, it would be football. The Giants had gotten Eli Manning, Peyton’s younger brother, and it seemed as though my luck with the G-Men would be on the upswing. I mean, watching Kerry Collins and Kurt Warner was fun and all, but I needed a little bit more.

The beginning years were tough. Eli made way too many mistakes, and Tiki Barber just about made me want to kill myself. We’d sneak into the playoffs, only to get crushed and embarassed.

Meanwhile, the Boston Red Sox were making another playoff run, but I simply didn’t care. Did I hate them? No, of course not. To this day, I still will never truly hate the Sox, or their fans, nearly as much as the Pats, or New England faithful.

Travis' first sport's idol, Nomahhhh.

Then, it all changed.

You see, something I didn’t mention earlier, is that my dad remains one of the biggest Yankee fans I know, and he got that from my grandfather, Leroy Warren Rand. My grandfather was a great man, and an even better father, teacher, and of course, coach. He loved the Yankees, and I still remember going over for cookouts and hearing him shout in the living room.

On February 18th, 2008, I stood in a room with some of the people who have influenced me the most, and I watched my grandfather make his journey to the pearly white gates. Being in that room changed my life forever. I was scheduled to work in a few hours, and simply called to push my shift back a bit. Grandpa was all about work ethic, and I knew he’d want me there.

Thankfully, I was outside most of the day and able to really think about all the memories I had. When my shift ended, I walked down to Olympia Sports and bought my first ever Yankee hat. If Grandpa couldn’t root anymore, than I would.

Today, my grandfathers name is on my calf, with his dates in banners beneath it, and a large Yankees logo in the middle. During the final game in Yankee Stadium, a place I was lucky enough to go to in it’s final season, as Derek Jeter concluded his speech, my dad sent me a text that read “Thinking about my dad”. It was the most I had ever cried during a sporting event, and it still is.

Even years later, when the Yankees won the World Series, and I was alone in my dorm room, I cried, thinking of Grandpa.

And here we find ourselves. The day after the New York Giants, for the second time in the last four seasons, were crowned the football champions of the world. I had thought that nothing would be better than the 2007 season. Nothing could beat ending the Pats perfect season, and Eli Manning hoisting his first Lombardi Trophy.

I knew, since a division in the NFC plays only one division in the AFC, rotating every year, that Manning would most likely play Brady once, or twice more. Once in 2011 [Week nine of this season], and in 2015, if Brady was still around. Then of course, I found myself watching people pour into Shaws buying Patriots garb, and razzing me for my Giants hat I wore so proudly. We were to match-up in yet another Super bowl.

This season had meant more to me than any other season. We had made no free agent splashes, let Steve Smith walk to the Eagles, and Kevin Boss skip off to Oakland. We were tearing ACL’s like they were going out of style in the preseason, and I had little hope. With such a daunting schedule, I told my good friend Andrew early on, that an 8-8 record would truly be a success for this team.

That’s not why this season meant so much though.

That first game in September, against the Redskins, I didn’t watch with my mom, I didn’t watch with my Dad, I watched it with a girl that I am confident I will marry one day, my girlfriend Adie. I mean, how can she NOT be the one, Hakeem Nicks dropped a 50 yard TD in that game, completely blowing by two Redskins players, only to have it bounce off his own facemask. After which, I promptly elbowed Adie in the jaw after freaking out. She took the lickin’ and kept at it.

By week eight, she generally understood the game. She was getting some of the calls, she knew a handful of players, and I loved sitting down with her on Sunday’s and watching the Giants. As we got into the playoffs, I warned her she was in dangerous territory. The Giants had made it a habit of getting slaughtered [14-2 in 2008, in which we got outplayed to the extreme by the Eagles… at home]. She kept saying “you know Eli won’t lose, he’s been so good in the fourth quarter”.

Somehow, some way, she was right. We didn’t lose. We beat out the Packers, on the road, the number one offense. We beat the number one defense, the San Francisco 49’ers, of course, on the road. She was with me yesterday, when the Giants batted down a last second hail mary, and were crowned the champions. But don’t worry loyal fans, I made sure she understood, she needed to cherish this one.

I guess the point of all this, was to let everyone know, I’m just like you. I love my teams, and probably more than anyone should. I feel like I am finally able to turn a page in my personal book, and accept Boston fans for what they truly are. Passionate.

Most likely, I am not going to give you a hard time about the Super bowl when I see you next, my friend. Why? Because I would ask the same from you. I just ask all of us, to truly appreciate the good things that we have. Think about why you root for the teams you do. Think about who in your life you love talking sports with. Think about that crazy mother of yours who roots for the Cowboys, and hangs up team flags on the deck. Wait, that’s just mine?

Simply put, I believe that there is nothing in this world that can bring people together like a good game, a good drink, and some good snacks. I have been truly blessed with some great times in my life, many of them spent with Boston fans.

My name is Travis Rand. I am the biggest Giants fan I know. I live in Portland, Maine, or as I like to call it, Patriot Country. I have seen the Giants defeat the hometown hero Patriots twice in four season, in the Super bowl no less, and I like to think we are Brady and Beli’s only known Kryptonite.

The second of those Super bowl’s I spent with my mom, her caring and loving boyfriend Rob, one of my best friends, Justin, and his girlfriend Ashlei, my younger brother Nathan, and of course, my Victor-Cruz-loving girlfriend Adie. My phone rang many times that night, but the only people I answered were my Dad, and Andrew, another Giants fan, who changed my life with ESPN The Weekend trips. I couldn’t have asked to be surrounded with a better group.

I wish you nothing but championship runs, trophies a plenty, and more stats than you can shake a stick at.

My name is Travis Rand, and when it comes to sports, I couldn’t possibly be any more grateful.

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