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July 30th, 2007

RIP, Bill Walsh

Back during the heydey of Bill Parcells' first great New York Giants teams, roughly 1985 through 1990, our greatest rivals were the San Francisco 49ers of Bill Walsh. As a Giants fan, my fondest memories of are the times we beat the Niners -- the drubbing we gave them in the playoffs on the way to our first SuperBowl, the 15-13 squeaker we won in San Francisco on the way to the second SuperBowl, when we frustrated the Niners' dreams of Threepeat, and (especially) that incredible regular season game where Mark Bavaro carried Ronnie Lott and ten other 49ers halfway down the field on his back. I'm sure there were some equally exciting games where the Niners prevailed, though of course I don't remember THOSE as fondly. Still, those were great games between two great teams.

Despite the rivalry, I could never hate the Niners the way I hate the Cowboys (as a Giants fan) or the Patriots and Dolphins (as a Jets fan). Bill Walsh was just too classy, and so were his teams. Joe Montana, Jerry Rice, Dwight Clark, Ronnie Lott, so many more. They weren't my guys, but they were great players, and easy to root for. And I did root for them, whenever my own guys weren't in it. I was cheering as hard as anyone when Montana threw and Dwight Clark made the Catch, to knock the hated Cowboys out of the playoffs. And that drive against the Bengals in the SuperBowl was pretty special too.

Bill Walsh was the most innovative football coach of our time. He redefined the game, especially on offense. He always seemed to be a great guy too. His players loved him, and with good reason. I remember the first Niner SuperBowl against the Bengals, where he got to the hotel ahead of the team, dressed up as a bellhop, and unloaded their luggage for them.

You'll never see Evil Little Bill do that.

Rest In Peace, Bill. You did good work and left your mark, and that's all that any man can hope for.

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