My dad was born in New York City in 1928, three years after the New York Giants entered the NFL. Truth be told, he wasn't always a Giants fan. He first rooted for the Brooklyn Football Dodgers. In 1943, after the demise of the Dodgers, my dad was left without a team.
He didn't take to the Giants right away, considering it was a huge leap for a Dodgers fan to root for a team called the Giants even if they played with an oblong, leather ball.
When he first became a fanatic is still a bit of a mystery I can easily say that by the time I was born, he was die hard. He was at the game when Summerall kicked the field goal in the snow against the Browns and the following week he was one of three people who admit to not being at "The Greatest Game Ever Played" although he was driving around the city looking for a bar to watch it. He didn't know there were tickets still available.
It's a wonder I ever became a fan, seeing as my mom used to get the kids as far from our house on Sunday afternoons as possible. I don't think she wanted us learning our vocabulary from a Giants fan on a Sunday during the lean years.
Where as I can't pinpoint exactly when my dad became a fan I know the exact moment I did. On October 10, 1976 at 1 p.m., my life was changed forever. My dad had secured seasons tickets for the new stadium in beautiful downtown Secaucus and we made the long drive from Maryland to see his Giants fall to the mighty Dallas Cowboys.
I remember vividly the ball falling off the tee before the first kickoff and my dad shouting "That's the way we are going to blow you over," as I watched with a mixture of fear and amazement. I learned that day that winning didn't equal passion, but love of team did. I don't know if I knew it at the time but from that day forward I was hooked.
For 31 years my dad and I made the long trek from Maryland to The Meadowlands. Sometimes, the trip was longer then others. There was the time I flew in from Alaska where I was stationed in the army and the time I came from Pennsylvania because I was at a conference to all the times I came from Virginia where I settled with my wife and daughter.
We were there for "The Fumble" and the Flipper Anderson game. We were there for the 17-0 NFC Championship against the Redskins and the 41-0 game against the Vikings. We were there in the ice when we stopped Walter Payton from passing O.J. We were there when the lights went out and when Joe Danelo kicked the field goal in overtime to beat Dallas, ending 18 years of futility.
We were there for the good times and the bad times. We made friends in the parking lot and in section 327. We've seen new Giants fans born and sadly, some old ones die. It was father-son time at it best, and to this day they are some of my most cherished memories.
Two years ago, my dad decided it was time to stop making that trip up the turnpike and he passed the tickets to me. Now I go to the games with my daughter. She became a fan the day quarterback Eli Manning beat the Broncos with a last second toss to Toomer. I called her my good luck charm because it was the first game she watched and she started watching from then on to help "dad's team".
Now it's our team and she is already building memories. From the electric atmosphere of the regular season ending loss to the Pats to the euphoria over last year's Super Bowl.
She's already experienced some of the requisite pain of being a Giants fan when she had to endure the loss to Philly to end this season, but she is already looking forward to righting that wrong next season.
I write this article as a testimony to a man who introduced me to one of the great passions of my life, my dad. He has promised that if he is still going strong when the Giants open the new stadium on a fall day in 2010, hopefully against the hated Cowboys, that he will make one last trip with me. I hope that promise is fulfilled so once again a dad and his son can share their life long passion.
It will be 34 years of agony and ecstasy since opening day in 1976 and I know that there are a lot more important things to wish for but I do hope the ball blows off the tee before the opening kickoff because, as only a son can know his father, I know just what he'll say.
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