In light of the . . . happening on Sunday, I've seen more than a few comments around here that suggests the Giants are a particularly snake-bitten franchise. While they have had their share of painful losses, I think it's worth keeping in mind that they've also been one of the most successful sports franchises over the past quarter of a century.
As I mentioned in the comments on one of the threads yesterday, I've been a Giants fan since 1984 when i was all of seven years old. In that time the Giants have won three world championships, captured seven division titles, made 13 playoff appearances, and have had only a handful of truly dreadful seasons - including back-to-back losing seasons only twice. All in all, that's a pretty solid record.
Now perhaps I am being comparatively optimistic because of my own unique circumstances. I came of age right after an era of almost two decades of futility, so I didn't get to experience as much losing as those a bit older did. Also, look at my screen name: after 1986 there hasn't been too much joy in Metsville. I also live in a metro area where no professional team has won anything since my freshman year of high school (January 1992), so just about anybody is going to look good compared to these four inept franchises.
But if you take a step back, you see that the Giants compare favorably to most teams. Since 1984, only seven professional big four sports franchises have won more championships than the Giants: the 49ers, Yankees, Bulls, Spurs, Lakers, Red Wings, and Edmonton Oilers. The Patriots, Cowboys, Celtics, Pistons, Penguins, and Devils have all equaled the Giants, meaning that they're ahead of 108 other sports franchises (though about 24 or so came into existence since 1984).
It's a crude measure of success, but let's dig even deeper. The 49ers won four Super Bowl titles between 1984-1994. After another half-decade of moderate success, they've essentially been a non-entity in the NFL. The Cowboys have been fairly pitiful in the period immediately before and immediately after their mini-dynasty run. The Patriots were fairly awful until the mid 90s, a couple of playoff appearances in the mid 80s notwithstanding. Even the Colts were absolutely terrible for just about their entire run in Indianapolis until Payton came along a dozen seasons ago. The Eagles have been fairly consistently good through most of that period, but have been to one Super Bowl - which they lost.
Looking at the other sports, even some of the dominant teams there have not been consistently good throughout this time period. The Oilers have won nothing since they traded Messier to the Rangers (though they went to a Cup final), the Penguins went through a long dry spell between the Lemieux and Crosby eras, the Yanks were mediocre at best and awful at times from 1987-1993, and the Celtics practically disappeared from the scene after Bird left until they
stole traded for Garnett. Other teams not mentioned - like the Braves, who won 14 straight division titles but only one world championship - have also had their ups and downs.
I don't think it's a stretch to say the Giants have been one of the ten best teams in all of the big four professional sports since the mid-80s. There's no perfect way to measure this, so it's definitely a very subjective opinion, but I would certainly put them up against just about any NFL franchise in that time period. They have been blessed with an ownership group that generally has not meddled, several gifted GMs, and several Hall of Fame caliber coaches (let's forget Ray Handley ever happened). As fans, we've never had to wait more than four seasons between playoff appearances - no other organization that comes to mind has been so fortunate.
So while we're still fresh from the pain of Sunday's humiliation, it's worth keeping in mind that some of the heartache we've felt as fans comes with the territory of rooting for a team that is usually good enough to play meaningful games just about every year. It could always be worse -- we could be fans of these guys.