by Jack Melanson News Editor
A new NFL football season represents hope, pride and a chance for the ultimate reward; hoisting the Lombardi Trophy come February.
After last season ended with a 41-33 victory for Nick Foles and the Philadelphia Eagles over Tom Brady and the New England Patriots, football fans from all over are ready for more.
As the season has kicked off, Week 1 was full of surprises, fun and entertainment for some Jaspers who enjoy the gridiron game.
With Manhattan College’s close proximity to MetLife Stadium, and a large percentage of students coming from either New York or New Jersey, the majority of the beginning of the season hype revolves around the New York Giants and the New York Jets.
The Jets opened their season with an outstanding performance against the Detroit Lions.
With rookie quarterback Sam Darnold under center, the team easily tamed the Lions in a 48-17 victory.
Despite Darnold’s first NFL passing attempt landing in the opposite end zone by way of an interception return, the quarterback showed poise, fighting back to complete 16-of-21 passes for 198 yards and a pair of touchdowns through the air.
“Darnold showed resiliency when bouncing back from an interception during opening day [and] Monday Night Football,” said David Caiafa, a senior at Manhattan College. “He completed tight throws and he led the offense strongly and with process.”
Dom Paggi, a senior engineering student at Manhattan, summarized Caiafa’s thought in a short-and-sweet statement.
“Sam Darnold has a bright future in New York,” Paggi said.
Caiafa commented on the team’s strong defensive showing, too.
“The defense was hard hitting and smart,” Caiafa said. “They got their first turnover for points in 74 games. They were hyped and the defense will need to step up when the offense has rough times.”
Caiafa has experienced his favorite team (the Jets) struggles over the years. This year, however, Caiafa expects to have a more enjoyable Sunday experience.
“They are going to have their bruises and lumps, but they will be fun to watch,” Caiafa said. “They should be a solid team, but what happens remains to be seen.”
In bold fashion, Paggi made a prediction which included dethroning the Patriots in the AFC East.
“The Jets are easily the top team in the AFC East,” Paggi said.
Basem Metri is a sophomore at Manhattan College. Hailing from just outside of Boston, Massachusetts, the Patriots fan disagreed with Paggi.
“The Pats looked like their old selves with [Rob] Gronk[owski] and [Tom] Brady connecting,” Metri said. “[Head Coach Bill] Belichick loves it and Pats fans are in for a wicked sick run for another Super Bowl.”
Like the Jets, the Patriots also found victory in Week 1 as they outlasted the Houston Texans by a score of 27-20. As of now, both teams remain atop the AFC East.
As previously noted, many Giants fans also exist on campus.
Similar to the Jets, the Giants also have a rookie to rally behind. Saquon Barkley was selected second overall in this year’s NFL Draft, and regardless of a strong first outing on his behalf, the team was unable to find victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars as they fell 20-15.
Nevertheless, Giants fans remain hopeful behind Barkley.
“Big Blue is going to take it this year,” said Pat Maurer, a senior at Manhattan. “Barkley is an absolute unit.”
Other Giants fans at the college, like senior Mike Corteo, can spot some challenges along the way.
“The Giants offensive line continues to struggle, but that doesn’t stop my high hopes of the team having a top-five offense for the rest of the season,” Corteo said.
Corteo also believes that Eli Manning still has plenty of gas left in the tank.
“Eli Manning is still New York’s quarterback and will be for years to come,” Corteo said.
The other New York team, the Buffalo Bills, have some signing to do, according to Matt McMorrow, another senior at the college.
“Colin Kaepernick deserves to start in Buffalo,” McMorrow said.
Kaepernick, a quarterback who is now most notable for his 2016 national anthem protests which sparked even more protests last season, has yet to receive an offer from any of the 32 NFL franchises.
Manhattan College’s diversity shines in many ways, and football fandom is just an another example of such.
One student, Dan Delbene, was raised in New York but is a loyal fan of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
“The Buccaneers exceeded all of my expectations this past week, but I know not to get too excited just yet,” said Delbene, who referenced backup quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick’s 21-for-28 passing performance en route to 417 yards in the air and four touchdowns.
In Week 1, the Buccaneers out-shot the New Orleans Saints 48-40.
There is also a Carolina Panthers’ presence.
“I think Week 1 was pretty mixed for the Panthers,” said Kenny Crocamo, a senior at Manhattan College. “The defense stopped the run really well against a great running back (Ezekiel Elliott) and racked up six sacks. The offense was slow though and with a depleted offensive line, I think the team can go as far as Cam [Newton] can take them.”
During the game, the Panthers topped America’s Team, 16-8.
Although more fans of other teams exist at the college, it is fair to say that football fued is in session.
With a lot of time left in the season, anything can happen for these teams, their fans and the cities that they represent.
For Cody Delasho, a student at the college and a fan of the NFL as a whole, Week 1 was something special.
“It was one of the most exciting starts to the season I’ve ever seen,” Delasho said.