When the Florida Marlins captured Major League Baseball championship by triumphing in the 1997 World Series (an outcome deemed improbable at the time, at least by those who didn’t place much stock in the chances of a recent expansion team’s winning it all), some fans of the national pastime were inspired to see in a 1989 film a prophecy of that very event. They cast their gaze to a scene in Back to the Future II that supposedly predicted the unexpected sporting result. (It didn’t, but that’s another story.)
Ten years later, the rumor that an unlikely sports result had been accurately prognosticated by a popular movie popped up again.
Just as the Marlins weren’t supposed to triumph in the 1997 World Series, the New York Giants weren’t expected to reach Super Bowl XLII. The 3 February 2008 match-up between the New York Giants and the New England Patriots was a touch improbable, given that the Giants had been 7.5 point underdogs to the Green Bay Packers going into the NFC Championship Game. Yet, point spread to the contrary, the Giants prevailed, snatching the NFC title with a 23-20 overtime victory over the vaunted Pack, thus earning themselves a Super Bowl berth.
A few months before the 2008 Super Bowl took place, a film version of I Am Legend starring Will Smith (the third onscreen adaptation of the 1954 Richard Matheson novel of the same name, its two previous onscreen forays being 1964’s The Last Man on Earth and 1971’s The Omega Man) was released. Near the beginning of that film, one scene showed a television news broadcast with a sports-related screen crawl appearing below the commentator, and that crawl read: “Giants lose to Patriots for second time this season 23 to 7”:
Intriguingly, since the Giants and the Patriots are in difference conferences, the only way they could play each other more than once in a given season would be via a regular season match-up (which due to interconference scheduling happens only once every four years), followed by a Super Bowl rendezvous. And that is exactly what happened in the 2007-08 NFL season: the Patriots bested the Giants 38-35 on 29 December 2007 and then took on New York in the Big Game on 3 February 2008. (The chronology is somewhat murky in this context, however, because even though I Am Legend was released in December 2007, it was set in the year 2009 and referenced events that took place in the past.)
However, although one part of the I Am Legend “prediction” came true in that the Patriots did indeed meet the Giants for a second time in the 2007-08 season through both teams’ reaching Super Bowl XLII, the Patriots did not come away the winners, nor was the final score the 23-7 tally that flashed on-screen during the film’s news crawl. The New York Giants were the victors by a 17-14 margin.<!–
At least part of the silver screen prediction has already come true: these two teams, who can play each other twice in a season only if they both get to the Super Bowl, and even then only one year out of four, have done exactly that. Also, given that the opening Vegas line has the Patriots as 13.5 point favorites over the Giants, it’s reasonably likely the Giants will “lose to Patriots for second time this season.”
As for the predicted score (23-7 in favor of New England), the 13.5 point spread means the movie’s guess is less than a field goal off from where the pundits place the likely result, at least in terms of difference between the two scores. Mind you, the results of the teams’ regular-season contest (38-35) would tend to indicate a much higher aggregate score, and the opening Vegas line on the over/under was 55, which means the cognoscenti are of the opinion that Super Bowl XLII will be a high-scoring affair.
However, football being what it is (which is unpredictable, as many an empty-walleted Sunday bettor can woefully attest), anything can happen, including an experts-predicted shoot-out unfolding on game day as a low-scoring defensive battle.
If all that was too much football and Vegas lines to digest, here’s the short ‘n’ sweet: One part of the prediction is already in the bag (that these two teams who meet only once every four years would play each other twice in a season), one part stands a darned good chance of coming true (that the Patriots will beat the Giants twice (they’ve already bested them once and are heavy favorites to overcome them again), and the last part isn’t that far outside the realm of possibility (a final score of 23-7).