With the 19-10 win, the Giants finished the season with an 11-5 campaign and went back to the playoffs for the first time since 2011—the year in which the team won the Super Bowl against Tom Brady and the New England Patriots, again.
The next week, in the wildcard round, the team faced the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field. Sure, it was expected to be a challenging game, but Giants fans were excited about the encounter. After all, in 2007 and 2011, the last two Super Bowls won by the Giants involved wins against the Packers at Green Bay.
It seemed things were going in the Giants' direction, but then, something derailed the team.
The Giants and the curse of the boat image
Back in 2016, before the wildcard round against the Packers, a picture showed up on Twitter. Wide receivers Odell Beckham Jr. (currently with the Cleveland Browns), Sterling Shepard (still with the Giants), Victor Cruz (retired) and Roger Lewis (free agent since 2019) were on a boat off the coast of Miami with rapper Trey Songz, the day after the game against the WFT, and a week before the team's first playoff game since 2011.
Needless to say, the fans didn't like the players' behavior. Giants supporters were critical of the attitude. Many said they weren't professional and didn't care about the next game.
No one considered that Monday, the day the players were in Miami and someone took the photo, was the Giants' day off.
In 2016, Victor Cruz, the more experienced player of the group — a remaining player of 2011's Super Bowl title-winning team — said the following to the media:
"It was right after a game, and we were just about to go into the playoffs, and although we had the day off, we went to Miami, we had a good time, it was New Year's Day, we came back the next day, didn't break any rules."
In 2020, in an interview with Jaclyn Hendricks, Cruz stated:
"This photo will haunt me for the rest of my life."
He also tried to explain his behaviour:
"It was more so the feeling of, 'Man, when am I going to get to do this again? When am I going to get to be an athlete, win a football game, go on a private jet, go to Miami the same night?' It was one of those things where I was just like, 'I think I'm just going to feed our ego tonight.'"
The former WR also reflects on what would have happened if the Giants had won the game against the Packers:
"If this was 1999, no one would have known about the trip. We would have went, had a great time, come back. And then had we won the game, that's the part that kind of bothers me, too. If we won the game, they'd be like, 'Go to Miami every week. Apparently, that's the good luck charm.' The fact that we lost left a bad taste in everybody's mouth."
But is the boat image a curse?
Since the photo, the Giants have never again had a winning campaign. Obviously, the team also never went back to the playoffs. Like this year, the Giants have also started every season 0-2 since the boat image—including two 0-5 (2017 and 2020).
The 2017 season, the year following the boat image, was so terrible that the team finished 3-13, and the Giants fired head coach Ben McAdoo during the season—the first time they did such a thing.
The boat image also started to crumble Giants' fans' relationship with Odell Beckham Jr., resulting in his trade following the 2018 season.
You may not believe in curses, but that they exist, they exist. Especially in sports, the Chicago Honey Bears, the Joe Namath, the Billy Goat, the Bambino are there to prove it. The good thing is, as Billy Goat and the Bambino prove, it is possible to break a curse.
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*At the time, the Washington Football Team used its former name.