Bob Glauber has been Newsday's national football columnist since 1992. He was Newsday's football writer covering the Jets
The widespread effects of Hurricane Sandy have spared almost no one in the tri-state area; the death and destruction is more intense than any other storm most of us have experienced in our lifetimes.
If we're lucky, we're dealing with the comparatively minor inconveniences of losing power and waiting on gas lines. That is nothing compared to losing your home or -- worse yet -- losing loved ones.
The Giants aren't able to lend a hand physically to try to ease the burden, but they are in a unique position to provide some level of comfort, simply because of what they do. Their hope is that for three or so hours Sunday afternoon, they might be able to offer at least a temporary sense of relief from the burdensome task of picking up after this disaster.
"I think a lot of people will kind of be lingering on what we do on Sunday, kind of get their minds off the effects of Sandy," defensive end Justin Tuck said. "Hopefully we can oblige."
The Giants host the Steelers in a game that holds major significance for both teams, at least as far as the NFL standings are concerned. But for a region dealing with an unprecedented disaster, it holds perhaps even more importance, if for no other reason than offering an escape from the reality its millions of inhabitants are facing. All of us.
Ahmad Bradshaw would like nothing better than to win for the fans now cleaning up after Sandy.
"We [players] are taking care of each other. Hopefully we can take care of New York and it'll be a good Sunday for everybody," he said. "We can get everybody through this storm, this weather and everything else. Get through this month that I guess it's going to take to get back to normal. Hopefully our wins and our success helps."
Asked how seriously he takes that responsibility, Bradshaw said, "We feel like we can spark New York, man. It's just what we do, what we've done. I think we can help everybody in New York and New Jersey that is going through this."
And what if people don't have power to watch the game on television? "Go to a bar," he said. "Go to my house."
Victor Cruz knows what people in the area are going through. He's one of us. "I've been through a couple of storms myself, so I understand how it goes. I understand the devastation the tri-state area is in right now," said Cruz, who grew up in Paterson, N.J. "I feel like us going out there and playing well would be huge not only for ourselves and our families, but for the city. The message is that we're out there, no matter what. And if we can be a fuel or a catalyst where we're out there doing it, then you guys can get out there and be good."
The Giants know that no matter what happens against the Steelers, the painful reality that everyone faces won't go away. If it were only that simple. But we've seen before how sports can provide that momentary lift when crisis hits.
The post-Sept. 11 sporting events were far more emotional than most. The Giants' Super Bowl against the Bills, which preceded the first Iraq war, had added significance because of the timing. That Whitney Houston national anthem was one of the most emotional moments ever at a sporting event because of the historical backdrop.
Hurricane Sandy may not equate to war, but it is a catastrophic event nonetheless, and people are looking for relief any way they can get it. The Giants want to provide some the best way they know how: by performing well for their hometown fans who are hurting so badly.
"I think the devastation is part of our world," coach Tom Coughlin said. "Our players have gone through a little bit. I don't know the extent of the damage of their homes, but I know the majority of them have been without power. That's just a small sample of what's going on in this part of the world and the reason people will have smiles on their faces for a few hours on Sunday afternoon."
Coughlin said he hasn't addressed the issue with his team, but he will at the appropriate time, perhaps at his meeting with the players the night before the game. But the men he coaches already have a sense of the importance of their roles.
While the Giants will be mindful of putting on a good showing for their stressed-out fans, they know the dangers of concentrating too much on external factors during the game. But Tuck believes their experiences of playing after other emotion-packed moments will carry them through against the Steelers.
"We have a veteran football team that understands that situation," he said. "We've been through it with [Hurricane] Katrina and New Orleans coming up here to play [in 2005], when our own died . We've had some tragedy here and played through it and been successful. Hopefully we can rise to the occasion again this week."
A legion of fans desperate for something positive hopes so, too.