For a day or so, while the glow of Super Bowl XXI remains, it won't be all that sacrilegious to refer to this trio as the Holy Trinity. Indeed, if you are a New York Giants fan, their very names should prompt folded hands and glances toward the heavens.
In many football ways, they are three in one. Father, Son and Holy Ghost. Harry Carson, Carl Banks and Lawrence Taylor. As linebackers for the new National Football League champions, they are the soul of the Big Apple's best. Carson, at age 33, the Father. Banks, 24, the Son. And Taylor, at 27, the dreaded LT, the Holy Ghost. As in: "Holy Ghost, here he comes again!" The Giants won the Super Bowl in an easy walk down the aisle, beating the Denver Broncos, 39-20. But without their Holy Trinity, Giant fans might very well have been lighting lots of candles near the end. These guys turned what looked like a three-rosary game into three Hail Marys and a quick kiss of the bishop's ring.
Take as an example the series of plays at the beginning of the second period, with the Broncos ahead, 10-7, and John Elway completing pass after pass. The ball eventually got to the New York one-yard line, and, saints alive, things were getting very tense for the favored New Yorkers.
On first down, Elway ran right. Taylor tackled him for a yard loss.
One second down, Gerald Willhite tried the middle. Carson tackled him for no gain.
On third down, Sammy Winder tried the other way, the left side. Banks tackled him for a loss of four. That meant that, on fourth down, Denver was forced to try a field goal. And, when the Devil made Rich Karlis shank the kick wide right from 23 yards out, the Giants escaped without yielding so much as a point.
So there but for the grace of God went Denver's chances, because the next 26 points were scored by the Giants.
The final statistics showed the Giants making a total of 49 tackles in the game. Of those 49, Carson, Banks and Taylor made 21. Banks had 10, Carson 7 and Taylor 4.
Afterward, the Father spoke with the perspective of his age and experience; the Son with the enthusiasm of youth. And the Holy Ghost? He just said whatever he felt like. Call it your Devil may care postgame interview.
Said Carson, a man who wrongly has received as much attention for dumping a Gatorade bucket on his coach in the closing moments of victorious games as he has for his considerable talents:
"I want the people in New York, and in New Jersey, too, to share in this. We are proud to be world champions, and we are proud for all those people who have bought all those season tickets all those years. "I want to say, too, that I forgive lots of you New York fans out there. You know what I mean. I hope that this world championship can bring the people in New York and New Jersey and Connecticut together . . . "
And so on. Call it the Super Bowl Sermon on the Mount.
Carson also said that he felt especially good to be a part of this winning effort because his teammates had so much love for each other and showed it by even being able to have fun with their coach. Fun, of course, meaning the weekly Gatorade shower for Bill Parcells.
"I didn't really think the goal line stand was the turning point," Carson said. "I thought that came later, after we scored in the third period and then we came in on defense and they went three and out (three plays and a punt). I thought that was it."
Banks, who as the newcomer gets the least attention of the trio, spoke philosophically afterward, much like a son who has been taught well.
"It takes 11 men out there to win," he said. "I don't feel I need a lot of credit. I feel I played well, and that will speak for itself."
He disagreed with Carson on the impact of the goal line stand, but then sons are entitled to their opinions, too.
"I thought that was pretty big," Banks said. "With a team like Denver, and a quarterback like Elway, once they get going they're hard to stop. Yes, I think that was very big."
And then there was Taylor. His postgame demeanor was the same as his pre and midgame demeanor. Rough. Tough. A little nasty. Kind of fun. Kind of no-nonsense. LT tackles the press much like he tackles opposing ballcarriers: head on.
"I thought the thing turned around when we stopped playing finesse defense," Taylor said. "In the first half, we did a lot of reading this and that. That kind of crap. Then, in the second half, we just went out and knocked their heads off.
"In most games, the team that plays rough and tough will win out in the end. That's what happened today."
He was asked if he thought any team could run effectively on the Giants. "Not this year," he said.
And he was asked what he thought about the future. "I don't give a damn about the future," he said. "We are world champs now. Today. The hell with the future."
Taylor appeared in the postgame press conference wearing a Superman shirt. He was asked about it and answered: "The only problem is sometimes it's hard to find a phone booth."
Which was the first indication all day of Lawrence Taylor's mortality. The real Holy Ghost, after all, would never have that kind of problem.