Super Bowl Monday: The New York Giants, the Buffalo Bills and Super Bowl XXV is a new book by Adam Lazarus that outlines the Giants' exciting victory with Operation Desert Storm looming large in the backdrop and on everyone's minds.
Balance. It's an important word in football. Teams like to be balanced between the passing game and the running game, or between offense and defensive, just for openers.
Balance is also important in books, and what makes Adam Lazarus' book, "Super Bowl Monday" worth reading is that it has that quality. It's an interesting recap of the 1991 game between the New York Giants and Buffalo Bills.
It would have been very easy to tilt this book in the direction of the Giants. They were the winners, of course, and there are a lot more book-buyers in the New York metropolitan area than there are in Western New York. It's an easy storyline -- 20 years after the fact, the Giants pulled a dramatic Super Bowl upset, etc., etc. etc.
Instead, Lazarus plays it straight. He probably sensed he had chosen a very dramatic game to chronicle, featuring two distinctive and very good teams. So why not let the game tell the story?
There's some good background reporting leading up to the game. Jeff Hostetler, the Giants' quarterback, was a good story. He had never had much of a chance to play as a starter for one reason for another. Fate, in the form of an injury to Phil Simms, gave him a chance to perform in the glare of the playoff spotlight, and he did just fine. Hostetler may not have outplayed future Hall of Famer Jim Kelly in Super Bowl XXV, but he was good enough to win.
In fact, the Hostetler-Kelly comparison is a good one was measuring the teams. The Bills; no-huddle offense was capable of putting up points in a hurry. Whoosh. The Giants preferred to grind out the yardage one first down at a time. There are other comparisons, of course -- the ever-fascinating Bill Parcells and the literate Marv Levy serving as head coaches, plus stars like Thurman Thomas, Ottis Anderson, Lawrence Taylor and Bruce Smith.
Lazarus tracked down plenty of the principals in the game, and their quotes about the contest that 20 years of perspective can provide are striking. Both sides had their chances to build big leads and couldn't get it done. There's plenty of quotes and information given at the time it happens here as well.
Fittingly, the game came down to one play. You might have heard that Scott Norwood missed a 47-yard field goal that would have won the game for the Bills. However, the kick was outside of Norwood's range, and it's really too bad for him on a personal level that he's remembered for the miss. Norwood was no goat; he just needed to be five yards closer. In that sense, while the Giants certainly deserve credit for winning the game, the Bills didn't really lose it -- they just ran out of time.
The story adds an interesting postscript to the game's story. The city of Buffalo had a huge rally for the Bills after the game, unusual to say the least about a team that lost a championship. The Giants didn't have anything like it; they took a bus back to the stadium and dispersed for the offseason. Everson Walls of New York still sounds upset about it.
"Super Bowl Monday" goes by quickly, and doesn't suffer from the problem of having most readers know the outcome. Readers will learn why the game developed the way it did, and enjoy the story all over again -- although, admittedly, that's more true for Giants' fans than Bills' boosters.
The book is available at all major book retailers and online at Amazon.com.