The one that forever haunts John Mara and Giants fans of his generation came at the Yale Bowl, seven months after Super Bowl III, when Broadway Joe Namath and the Jets, already kings of the world, announced themselves as kings of New York with a resounding win over the Allie Sherman Giants that humiliated Big Brother.
The stakes are entirely different now on Blooper Sunday: The Giants have raised the Lombardi Trophy four times since then, while the Jets remain gripped in a 51-year stranglehold of mostly misery, misfortune, mindlessness and mediocrity … or worse.
Alas, the 2-7 Giants are 49-72 and without a playoff win since Super Bowl XLVI, and have changed head coaches twice, general managers once and quarterbacks once.
The 1-7 Jets? Over the same period, they are 43-79, and have changed head coaches twice, general managers three times and quarterbacks four times. And owners once, with Woody Johnson toiling overseas for the president.
The Giants are rebuilding.
The Jets are regurgitating.
This Thanksgiving, New York football fans should give thanks that these 98-pound weaklings meet only once every four years in the regular season.
The late Casey Stengel, after managing the ’62 Mets, said: “Can’t anybody here play this game?”
He would have said the same about these Giants and Jets, and might have added: “Can’t anybody here coach this game?”
All bets are off as to how the disenchanted, disillusioned fan bases who will show up at MuttLife Stadium — if only because they enjoy a good train wreck — will treat Pat Shurmur should he lose to Adam Gase, or Adam Gase should he lose to Pat Shurmur.
Gase is the “home” head coach, which is worse for him, because he is the singular object of ire for Jets fans for having the audacity to lose to the tanking Dolphins.
“Goodbye, Allie” was the chant the day the Namath Jets embarrassed the Giants, 37-14, and Jets fans Sunday will undoubtedly be clearing their throats to serenade Gase with “Goodbye, Adam” or “Fire Gase.” Or both. Because, presumably, the chorus will be larger and louder than it was last Sunday at Hard Rock Bottom Stadium.
It has taken Gase all of eight games to become their Shrek.
It is true his team has been decimated by injuries and lousy drafts, and it needs to be overhauled, but there is no excuse for Sam Darnold’s regression.
Which brings us to Shurmur.
Who is in the kind of unenviable position of the Coach Who Cannot Lose to Adam Gase and would risk leapfrogging him on New York’s Most Wanted list.
It might be different if Shurmur had not lost 18 of 25 games and now five in a row as Ben McAdoo’s successor.
This would be a good day for Shurmur to show his ownership, his GM and his fans that he is a better bet to develop Daniel Jones than Gase is to develop Darnold.
Jones outclassing Darnold and Saquon Barkley running wild would make Dave Gettleman’s day, considering all the heat he got for drafting the generational running back over Darnold.
Gase inherited a young franchise quarterback who started 13 games as a rookie and was ascending at the end of last season. He has coached him for five games, and how much can we blame mononucleosis for the eight interceptions over the past three weeks?
Glass-half-full alert for Sam Darnold: That is DeAndre Baker and Corey Ballantine in the Giants’ secondary.
Shurmur has coached Jones for seven games, and guess who leads the league with 16 turnovers?
Glass-half-full alert for Daniel Jones: The Jets don’t rush the passer, and Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie can’t help this battered and bloodied secondary.
Remember, Gase and Shurmur both had previous head coaching experience, and both were trumpeted as offensive gurus and quarterback whisperers.
Beyond getting the arrow pointing up on Jones, Shurmur’s best defenses for survival are the fact he is presiding over a massive teardown, and ownership’s perpetual desire for continuity and stability.
Beyond reviving Darnold, Gase’s best defense is the franchise forcing a third offensive system on Darnold, and ownership paying three head coaches in a one-and-done scenario.
For this one, the ceremonial coin flip could have featured Rich Kotite or Christian Hackenberg calling heads and it coming up tails, or Ray Handley or Joe Pisarcik calling tails and it coming up heads.
And that would be John Idzik in the Jets’ radio booth as an analyst and Ereck Flowers in the Big Blue booth. The sideline reporters? Vernon Gholston on the Jets’ sideline, Rocky Thompson on the Giants’.
But this is yet another football season that is no laughing matter. Though if you are a fan of one of the locals, you might find yourself laughing on Blooper Sunday to keep from crying. Underneath the bag over your head.