Thursday, July 10, 2008

Giants' Karma

I've reached a milestone! I've been participating in the library's Reader's Challenge reading club. When the program started a few years ago, each reader received the prize of a baseball style shirt after reading 23 books. (The number was chosen because it belonged to Michael Jordan, even though he played basketball. 23 seemed like a reasonable goal.)

The club was so popular that we decided to extend it. While discussing what number to put on the new shirt, we considered 44, the number worn by legendary Syracuse football players, including Heisman winner Ernie Davis. But we wanted a larger number to encourage more reading. As a NY Giants fan, I suggested 56, worn by linebacker Lawrence Taylor. When one of my colleagues asked the unthinkable question, "Who is Lawrence Taylor?" I explained how this one athlete, with his unique physical abilities and playing style, changed the entire game of professional football. He was such a dominating pass rusher that other teams had to change their offensive schemes to deal with him. They also began creating their own "Taylors" who mimicked his style. This, in turn, changed the way teams recruited new players and even affected the way college football is played. How all this influenced the life of an underprivileged high school athlete is told in Michael Lewis' fine book, "Blind Side." Anyway, 56 was chosen for the reading club shirt, as well as another, 99 for Wayne Gretzky. Here's where it gets spooky. Last week I finished number 55 on my reading list and, while I was trying to decide what to read next, one of my holds came in. It was "The Game of Their Lives," by Dave Klein, which tells the story of the 1958 NFL Championship game between the Giants and the Colts, considered by many fans to be the greatest game ever. Maybe it was coincidence.......or maybe not.


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