My Uncle Mario passed away last week. He was married to my dad's sister, the incredible Marie Botta Apuzzo, who cooked up some of the most amazing 18-course Christmas Eve meals. Yeah, we're Italian, although not as Italian as we used to be.
Uncle Mario's vital contribution to the meals was his craft of conversation. He was a storyteller and he had the wisdom of Yoda, played by Brando. I tell you about Mario because, naturally, it all comes back to sports.
His son, my cousin Tommy, inherited the family gene of worship for the Yankee pinstripes and the New York football Giants. Tom has always been a huge diehard of the Big Blue. He's one of those fanatics who, through some arrangement, has Giants season tickets - even though he doesn't have Giants season tickets.
Uncle Mario passed away on Tuesday morning, was waked Wednesday and Thursday in Westchester and his funeral was on Friday. After the post-funeral pasta lunch extravaganza on Friday - a curiosity to most, but I'm starting to understand it as I get older - Tommy was going to bolt for Phoenix for the Super Bowl.
Now, this is the sort of decision that has the world divided. Some people say, "Of course, your dad would want it this way. Go West and bring Mario and all of us back a championship." Then there's the 90% of the population who think the idea of getting on a plane for a football game after your dad passes away is, you know, wacko.
When my wife Catherine asked me about this, I said I was comfortable with whatever my cousin decided. Now that Tommy's a 50-year old doctor with two grown children, I believe he's earned the right to make his own choices.
So on my way out of the lunch, I hugged him and said, "You go West and bring my Uncle Mario and all of us back a championship."
Last night, around 10:15 pm, Plaxico Burress was so overcome with emotion from the victory that he cried. I know for a fact he wasn't alone.
And that is why we are sports fans. That is why, when sports are at their best, there is never any talk of contracts or controversy.
That is why people can smirk all they want, but there's a whole bunch of us who want to see if Frans and Tamby can give the Islanders a bit of a lift on Tuesday night.