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Mike Lupica: Even with all the hype over Aaron Rodgers and the Jets, this is still a Giants town

It is always worth noting, and remembering, that the Giants remain the big game in town when it comes to pro football and sometimes everything else. That means even when Aaron Rodgers is playing for the other team in town, even though “town” really means Jersey.

There have been times, you bet, when the Giants have been the Other Team. But not many, and not for long. It was that way, of course, for the brief, shining moment of Joe Namath. And it felt that way when Rex Ryan got the Jets, and got them to two straight AFC championship games, as close as that all was to the Giants not letting the Patriots get to 19-0 that night in Glendale, Ariz.

It’s also worth nothing, and remembering, that after the second Super Bowl win against the Patriots, the Giants showed that they could drive straight into a ditch as well as the Jets could. Then both of them felt like the Other Team, one dreary losing season after another.

But all of that was before Joe Schoen and Brian Daboll arrived at the big, ugly gray bowl we call MetLife Stadium, and we watched Daboll — a bald, barrel-chested career assistant coach, last stop Buffalo — turn into the biggest sports guy around here once Aaron Judge stopped hitting home runs.

Daboll showed up and then the Giants were finally on their way back to the playoffs; finally winning a playoff game for the first time since the night when Eli was throwing one out of the shadow of the end zone to Mario Manningham in Indy and the Giants had beat Belichick and Brady again.

The Jets are getting a lot of play, and rightfully so, now that they have Rodgers. He’s Rodgers, he not only has as many Super Bowls on his resume as the Jets have ever won, that resume shows him to be one of the great quarterbacks in history, far and away the greatest the Jets have ever had, and that includes Namath.

The Jets got Rodgers and, just like that, it was as if Super Bowl chatter around them had been microwaved. They are sexy and new, even with a quarterback pushing 40. Even all the networks have turned into Rodgers groupies.

Just keep in mind the context: And the context is that this all happens after a Giants season, under Daboll, that reminded us, truly, of the power of the Giants, as deep as anything we have in New York sports, including the Yankees, who have won more than any team in American sports history.

“I lived here when I was with the Jets,” Daboll was saying on Friday morning. “And that feeling you’re talking about, that passion for the Giants, is something you didn’t just feel in the stadium. You felt it in the parking lot, too. Heck, you felt it in the barbershop.”

Daboll paused then.

“But having said that, now it’s time to roll up our sleeves and go back to work. What I’ve learned from this sport is that ultimately, one season doesn’t win you anything the next season. One game doesn’t win you anything next Sunday, or Monday, whenever it is. You have to start all over again.”

Giants fans had been waiting for a coach to come along and make them a winner again the way Tom Coughlin did, and Bill Parcells before Coughlin. It doesn’t hurt that Daboll has some Parcells attitude in his coaching DNA. Daboll showed you a ton of it in his first Sunday as a head coach in the NFL, when he decided to go for that two-point conversion at the end, and on the road, against the Titans. One roll of the dice, for two. Win or lose. Truth or dare. The Giants made it. We’ll never know how the season might have gone, how it might have started, if the Giants had lost. It doesn’t matter. They didn’t.

I asked the coach of the Giants if he had ever reflected on how he thinks the season might have gone if the Giants had lost their opener.

“Maybe a little at the end of the year,” he said. “But not during. There’s never any time during. There’s just the next game.”

But the Giants were on their way back. Faith is believing what you can’t see. Daboll had only seen this one game. But he showed faith in his players. They made the conversion. They beat the Titans. This wasn’t going to be another season declared over by the time they got to the end of October.

We didn’t know it at the time, but the Giants were on their way back, all the way through that playoff game they got on the road against the Vikings, before the roof caved in on them against the Eagles.

“That wasn’t a fun game,” Daboll said.

But I told him there had to be some value, even in a bad loss like that, seeing exactly what the bar is now at the top of the NFC East.

Daboll laughed.

“I saw it three times,” he said.

Then he said: “It’s not just the Eagles in our division. It’s the Cowboys, too. And Washington. I feel like this is the NFC East we all grew up in. And why we know we have a lot of work to do, with all the improvements to our team we feel like we’ve made in the offseason. Because if there’s anything I’ve learned is that the standards you set never change, no matter what the expectations are outside the building. The work ethic doesn’t change. The commitment doesn’t change.”

Daboll laughed again.

“There’s never been an easy season I’ve been a part of wherever I’ve coached,” he said.

He sees the same excitement everybody sees with the Jets, as they try to come all the way back this season the way Daboll’s Giants did last season. Daboll seems perfectly happy to go about the business of doing the only thing that matters in his league: Try to keep moving toward a Lombardi Trophy instead of away from it.

I asked if there is any way for him to describe, or define, his philosophy.

“Keep it humble,” he said.

And his message to his team when they get to training camp this summer and the real business of the new season begins.

“Keep it humble,” Brian Daboll said.

The Mets became a big game again under Buck Showalter. The Yankees always are. We all saw the life the Knicks brought to the Garden this spring and here comes Aaron Rodgers. There’s still no bigger game in town than a Giants. This time it started with Daboll showing some faith, in his first game as a head coach. Now he’s given his fans hope again.


The Orioles were one big swing from Aaron Judge away from sweeping the Yankees this week at the Stadium.

And left town five games ahead of the Yankees in the loss column.

Plot thickens in the AL East.

LeBron saying he was thinking about retiring was The King’s version of this:

Enough about me, what do you think about me.

Even after he just got good and swept.

The Nuggets were the best team in the conference all season long, and then people acted shocked that they were the best team in the conference against the Lakers.

Kendrick Perkins OK with Jokic’s MVP awards now?

My guy Stanton says that even with faster baseball games because of the pitch clocks, Aaron Boone still can’t hang around for the whole game.

Anthony Volpe has been such a breath of fresh air at Yankee Stadium that it’s become kind of a sidebar that he came out of the Orioles’ series with a batting average south of the Mendoza Line.

Who thought at the start of the NBA playoffs that Gabe Vincent was going to be this important to the Miami Heat?

Michael Block became one of the best sports stories of the year at the PGA, shooting three straight 70s and then a 71, and going toe-to-toe with the big boys all weekend long.

Then not only does he slam-dunk that ace at the 15th hole on Sunday, he makes an almost-as-improbable up-and-down from dead city on the 18th to save par and qualify, on the number, for next year’s PGA.

It’s why nobody cared when he showed up at Colonial on Thursday and turned into Joe Hardy at the end of “Damn Yankees” with an 81.

Brooks Koepka has now won more majors than either Rory McIlroy or Jordan Spieth, and has just one less than Phil Mickelson.

But the idea that his victory was some sort of validation of the LIV Tour is for the birds, and that doesn’t mean the kind of birds you get in golf.

Dustin Johnson, a LIV guy and two-time major champion, finished back in the pack at the PGA?

Does that un-validate his joining LIV?

Koepka didn’t win another major because of LIV.

He won another major because he’s healthy again, and came away from Augusta having been reminded what it takes to win a major.

By the way?

Who knew that Koepka’s coach, Claude Harmon III, knew everything about everything.

Harmon — he’s the one who’s not Butch — did so much talking this week, I thought he was the one who’d faced down Viktor Hovland at Oak Hill.

That was pretty much the limp heard ‘round the world with No. 8 of the Jets this week, right?

Didn’t you always think the Panthers would win the Stanley Cup before the Rangers won another one?

The Yankees announced on Friday that they’ve pushed back Giancarlo Stanton’s rehab start.

Stop me if you’ve heard that one before.


Source: Berkshire mont

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