Super Bowl Quandry

Written on the eve of a Giants/Ravens Superbowl

* * *

January 28, 2001

If you are like me, picking a favorite in today’s game comes down to the choice between James Fenimore Cooper and Edgar Allan Poe.

On one hand, we have New York State’s Cardiff Giant, today on exhibit in Cooperstown’s Farmers Museum just across the street from the site of the Cooper family homestead. And on the other hand, Poe’s “The Raven.”

We have James Fenimore Cooper, raised in the New York village that his father founded and ran like a fiefdom; we have Edgar Allen Poe, who drank and died in Baltimore and whose bones reside there still.

What a challenge this presents not only to us, but also to the commentators for today’s game, who no doubt have spent the last week trying to make their way through The Last of the Mohicans, leaving the much shorter “Raven” for the final minutes before game time.

I have never been able to get through a Cooper novel, whose sentences are as twisted to me as the densely forested paths trod by his heroes. And I cannot turn my back on the man who brightened my childhood with “The Pit and the Pendulum.” But then, Cooper’s description of the great eclipse of 1806, the Dark Day, is one of the best pieces of descriptive writing I have ever had the pleasure to read.

I may grapple with this right up to the first snap.

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