10 Ways You Know You Are a New York Giants Fan

Kevin Boilard@@KevinBoilardCorrespondent IJune 18, 2013

10 Ways You Know You Are a New York Giants Fan

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    Established in 1925, the New York Giants are one of the NFL's oldest franchises. The organization's 88-season history is astonishing, with the most memorable moments being the Giants' eight world championships.  

    Backed by the unparalleled support of its fanbase, the Giants have woven an absolutely intoxicating yarn, rewarding their supporters with countless breathtaking performances and several non-replicable moments.

    For a fan, enjoying a team's triumph is only half the job. The other half is sharing grief in defeat. True fans know that for every euphoric high, there is an equally painful low. Giants fans can often relate through the ebb and flow of their team's plentiful past.  

    How many of these slides can you relate to?

The Names Joe Pisarcik, Trey Junkin and Matt Dodge Make You Feel Physically Ill

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    That knot in your gut hasn't loosened much, has it?

    In New York Giants history, three men stand alone, banished like Dante's Brutus, Cassius and Judas into the deepest part of "Giants Hell." Quarterback Joe Pisarcik, long snapper Trey Junkin and punter Matt Dodge are the three most universally hated players among Giants fans.

    Pisarcik, who got his professional start with the Calgary Stampeders of the CFL, ushered out the Giants' most dismal decade. In 1978, Pisarcik's infamous mistake—known as "The Fumble" by Giants fans—occurred. 

    On November 19, with his team leading the Philadelphia Eagles by five in the final moments of the game, Pisarcik fumbled the ball, allowing Eagles cornerback Herman Edwards to scoop it up for the game-winning score. 

    The Giants lost, 19-17, and finished the season with a 6-10 record. Pisarcik stayed just one more season with the Giants before playing the final five seasons of his career with…the Eagles.

    Junkin ripped out the heart of every Giants fan with a single botched snap on January 5, 2003. The recently un-retired long snapper joined the 10-6 Giants, who were desperately in need of his services, for the 2002 NFL playoffs.

    By the third quarter of the Wild Card Game versus the San Francisco 49ers, New York had built a comfortable 24-point lead. The 'Niners stormed back in the fourth to take a 39-38 lead. Still, the Giants had a chance to win the game on a last-second field goal. 

    The play immediately devolved into chaos after Junkin's bad snap, and it ended with punter Matt Allen heaving the ball to an innocuous member of the kicking team. An obvious pass interference, which could have salvaged Junkin's reputation, went uncalled.

    In 2010, rookie punter Matt Dodge learned a lesson he wouldn't soon forget: don't kick to DeSean Jackson. In the fourth quarter of a game against the Eagles, the Giants were up 31-10.  A historic run, however, allowed the Eagles to tie the game at 31. With 14 seconds remaining, the Giants were content to punt the ball out of bounds and play for overtime. 

    In opposition of his coach's orders, Dodge's punt sailed down the center of the field.  Jackson effortlessly cut through the Giants' unsuspecting punt coverage and crossed the goal line as time ran out. The Giants lost, 38-31, finished the season 10-6, missing the playoffs by a game. 

You Believe the Giants' Glory Era Began in the Mid-1950s

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    The Giants have been extraordinary in their two most recent Super Bowl runs, but seasons like 2009 (8-8, no playoffs) and 2012 (9-7, no playoffs) have been rather forgettable. 

    The Giants put together a nice run under head coach Bill Parcells in the late 1980s as well, claiming two Lombardi Trophies along the way ('86, '90). Neither era, however, was the Giants' glory era.

    That era was birthed in 1956, when the Giants won their first NFL title since 1938. With a 47-7 win over the Chicago Bears, New York was back on top, a place the Giants would be familiar with for the next seven years. 

    After a second-place finish in the NFL East Division in 1957, the Giants returned to the championship game in '58 and '59. Both times, the Giants faced Johnny Unitas' Baltimore Colts, and both times, the Giants fell short—although, in '58, they did so in historic fashion.

    With an NFL title and three championship appearances, New York closed out the 1950s as the class of the NFL. Some may have thought the era was ending after the Giants' third-place divisional finish in 1960, but some of the best years were still yet to come. 

    A pair of cross-country trades brought in quarterback Y.A. Tittle from the San Francisco 49ers and end Del Shofner from the Los Angeles Rams. The additions revamped an offensive attack, complementing the team's already stout defense nicely.

    With Tittle under center, the Giants made it to another NFL Championship Game in 1961, but they were throttled by the Green Bay Packers upon arrival. Tittle and the Giants followed that up with much more valiant showings in the '62 and '63 NFL Championship Games, falling to the Packers and Chicago Bears, respectively, in a pair of low-scoring events.  

    Although the 1956 season would ultimately serve as the starting point of a 30-year title drought, the Giants had some of their most successful seasons in the late '50s and early '60s, an era in which they were one of the NFL's toughest teams to beat. 

    Over the course of eight seasons (1956-1963), the Giants competed in six NFL Championship Games, compiling a regular-season, win-loss record of 73-25-4 (.716).

    What made this era so unique was that New York was able to sustain its success, despite switching head coaches (Jim Lee Howell to Allie Sherman) and starting quarterbacks (Charlie Conerly to Y.A. Tittle) in the middle of its dynasty.

You Can't Remember Any Details from Super Bowl XXXV

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    In 2000, the Giants had one of their most dominant seasons since the 1970 NFL-AFL merger. 

    They won the most games since their unforgettable 1986 season, finished the season as the No. 1 team in the conference and tore through the NFC playoff picture, which concluded with a 41-0 romp of the Minnesota Vikings in front of a sold-out crowd in their home stadium.

    So why aren't the 2000 Giants talked about more often? Because they were absolutely dismantled by the Baltimore Ravens, a team that had only existed in that form since 1996, in Super Bowl XXXV.

    Now you remember. Maybe you can recall a fuzzy image of Baltimore's Ray Lewis stalking the Giants offense, which gained only 152 total yards. Perhaps, you half-remember one of quarterback Kerry Collins' four interceptions. Please tell me you remember Ron Dixon's shutout-saving kick return, which covered 97 yards for the Giants' only points of the game.

    Never did a game take so long to finish. The Giants team that showed up at Raymond James Stadium on January 28 did not have a chance to take down the Ravens in a title fight, and that was apparent from the very beginning. 

    The Super Bowl fanfare, including an eclectic group of halftime performers and dozens of $2.1 million commercials, seemed a bit less lively, considering the Giants defense was making Baltimore quarterback Trent Dilfer look like a future Hall of Famer. 

    Since their first Super Bowl appearance in 1986, the Giants have had a significant amount of good fortune on the game's biggest stage. They throttled the Denver Broncos, snuck past the Buffalo Bills and upended the New England Patriots twice; one embarrassing loss is a small price to pay for all the Super Bowl success the Giants have had in franchise history.  

    But it still doesn't make that one loss any less painful to remember.

Lawrence Taylor Tops Your List of NFL's All-Time Greatest Players

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    In 1981, the Giants used the second overall pick in the NFL draft to select Lawrence Taylor, a player whom most true fans consider the best of all time. Taylor was ranked No. 3 on the NFL's list of Top 100 Greatest Players.

    Taylor was like an uncaged animal within the Giants' defense. Often, he lined up and ran plays however he pleased.

    Because of his insane athleticism and unmatched motor, Taylor could make almost any tackle, despite lining up incorrectly, running the wrong play or being out of position. For his talent to flourish fully, Taylor needed a great deal of freedom, and head coach Bill Parcells provided him with plenty of it.

    Taylor's signature move was the quarterback sack. He revolutionized the linebacker position by creating a free-rushing position that was rarely confronted by an offensive lineman. Taylor plowed over backs who tried to pick him up, and when teams assigned tackles to block him, he had the speed to simply run around him. He retired with a mind-numbing 132.5 sacks.

    The game had to change in order to combat defenders of Taylor's skill set, and many credit LT with the growth of the left tackle position.

    On many teams, the highest-paid offensive player besides the quarterback is his blind-side protector. Had Taylor not been so dominant throughout the 1980s, there might not be as much of a difference between left and right tackles today.

    Few players were as accomplished as Taylor was. From his rookie year to 1990, Taylor was selected to 10 consecutive Pro Bowls. During that same time, he earned nine first-team All-Pro selections—the lockout-shortened 1987 season (12 sacks, 3 INTs) was the only one in which he fell short. 

    He was named Defensive Player of the Year three times (1981, 1982, 1986) and was one of few defensive players to be named the NFL's Most Valuable Player (1986).

    With Taylor lined up on the defensive side of the ball, the Giants reached the pinnacle of pro football excellence twice, claiming victories in Super Bowl XXI and XXV.

You Made It Through the 1970s Alive

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    I could paint the Giants' franchise history as a portrait of extended success and excellence, but I'd have to omit an entire decade: the 1970s.

    After the Giants' glory era had come to a definite conclusion in the mid-1960s, the team receded into a lull of mediocrity. After the 1970 season, it was obvious that lull had cascaded into a full-fledged hibernation. From 1970-1979, the Giants fielded just two teams with winning records (1970, 1972), and New York did not qualify for postseason play once.

    During the '70s, the Giants went through an identity crisis, as they struggled to find a home stadium. Playing in the Yale Bowl (New Haven, CT) and eventually Giants Stadium (East Rutherford, NJ), New York had to get used to playing outside of the city limits. They also experimented with a funky-looking "NY" logo in '75.  

    Several head coaches tried unsuccessfully to save the Giants from the slumping '70s, including Alex Webster (1969-1973), a former fullback and hero of the Giants' championship-caliber teams of the 1950s. 

    Bill Arnsparger (1974-1976), John McVay (1976-1978) and Ray Perkins each failed just as miserably as Webster.  During Giants fans' most miserable decade, their team compiled a record of 50-93-1 (.347).

    During a decade in which the Giants lost double-digit games in six of 10 seasons, there was very little room for optimism. Quarterback Fran Tarkenton, a fine scrambler, was fun to watch early on, but he was back with the Vikings by the 1972 season. 

    Tarkenton was succeeded by a painfully awful duo of Norm Snead and Craig Morton, who were eventually relieved of their duties by Joe Pisarcik, who helped sink the team even further into depression.

    If you were unlucky enough to be a Giants fan during the 1970s, players like running back Ron Johnson (1970-1975) and tight end Bob Tucker (1970-1977) probably made watching the game a little easier. 

    Johnson made the Pro Bowl in '70 and '72, eclipsing 1,000 yards rushing in both seasons.  Tucker, although never elected to a Pro Bowl, was New York's most reliable pass-catcher of the decade. Neither player was with the team in '78 or '79, when the Giants posted back-to-back 6-10 seasons, slipping into some of the darkest times in franchise history.

The Helmet Catch Tops Your List of NFL's All-Time Greatest Plays

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    The forward pass has allowed for some of the most exciting plays in professional football history. "The Catch," the "Sea of Hands" and the "Immaculate Reception" each conjure an image of game-changing plays that have altered the course of NFL history.

    But has there been a play that tops the "Helmet Catch"? Most Giants fans think not.

    In 2007, Eli Manning was not the proven winner he is today. In fact, his ineffectiveness was beginning to wear on Giants fans, and many were starting to believe that GM Ernie Accorsi's draft-day trade, which yielded the Ole Miss product, was one of the biggest mistakes in franchise history. Manning would eventually prove his doubters wrong.

    In an unexpected turn of events, Manning was phenomenal after his team landed a wild-card spot in the 2007 playoffs.

    He led his team past the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Dallas Cowboys and Green Bay Packers, en route to a seemingly lopsided Super Bowl match up with the then-undefeated New England Patriots. Manning would stage a play so iconic that it will live in infamy as long as the game is played.

    On the receiving end of Manning's timeless pass was David Tyree, a former sixth-round selection whose most productive season was a pedestrian 19-catch year.

    In the 2007 regular season, Tyree caught just four passes, as his primary role was on special teams, for which he earned a Pro Bowl selection two years earlier.  As his team neared the Super Bowl, the most crucial performance of Tyree's overlooked career was on the horizon.

    Trailing 14-10 with time running out in Super Bowl XLII, Manning dropped back to pass on a critical 3rd-and-5. Almost immediately, the Patriots' pass rush engulfed Manning, swarming him in the pocket.

    Just before the play was blown dead, Manning escaped the grasp of two would-be sackers, retreated further into the backfield and heaved a desperation bomb down the center of the field, a cardinal sin for most young quarterbacks.

    There, 32 yards downfield, stood Tyree, a relatively unknown receiver (although he caught a touchdown pass earlier in the game). As Tyree leaped to meet the ball at its highest point, Patriots safety Rodney Harrison, a future Hall of Famer, grappled with him in midair for positioning. 

    Tyree reached the ball first and pinned it against his head as he fell to the ground, completing the play for a huge gain and a fresh set of downs.

    The unbelievable play directly led to the Giants' go-ahead touchdown later on that drive. The "Helmet Catch" played a tremendous part in one of the greatest upsets in NFL history.

Deep Down, You Know You Still Love Tiki Barber

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    After his retirement, former Giants running back Tiki Barber made a slew of bad decisions, which resulted in a divorce from both his wife and a good portion of the New York fanbase.  All it took was one ill-advised critique of up-and-coming quarterback Eli Manning for Giants fans to forget all 10,000 reasons why they once loved Barber.

    Now that time has passed and two Super Bowl victories have helped heal the wounds left behind by Barber's departing comments, we can once again appreciate the man beneath the pads. 

    Like fine wine, Barber's full flavor only grew richer with age. Unlike most running backs, Barber's production rose as his career wore on; he was one of few running backs to retire at the top of his game.

    Barber didn't break out until the Super Bowl season in 2000, four seasons after he was drafted in the second round of the 1997 NFL draft. Barber eclipsed 1,000 yards for the first time that season, a feat he would replicate five times over the next six years. By the 2002 season, Barber was clearly the featured back in New York's offensive backfield.

    Barber had durability, a trait not shared by many running backs. In eight of his 10 seasons, Barber played in all 16 games, embracing his role as the Giants' main workhorse.

    Even when the team was awful—such as the 2003 season, when the Giants won only four games—Barber showed up every week, giving it his utmost to churn out a 100-yard performance.

    Barber helped the Giants usher in a new era, as the 29-year-old running back took some pressure off his rookie quarterback, Eli Manning, in 2004.

    With Manning leaning heavily on Barber's services—both on the ground and in the passing game—the running back earned a long overdue Pro Bowl selection and the first of three consecutive seasons with more than 2,000 yards from scrimmage.

    Barber was named All-Pro the following season, as he rushed for a career-high 1,860 yards.  In 2006, Barber's final season, he collected 1,662 rushing yards, which placed him in exclusive company with over 10,000 career rushing yards. 

    He also retired with over 5,000 receiving yards, making him one of only three players in NFL history to reach both milestones (Marshall Faulk and Marcus Allen, both Hall of Famers, are the others). Barber is the only one to have done it all with one team.

When You Hear The Name O.J., You Think Anderson, Not Simpson

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    The most famous O.J. in American pop culture is O.J. Simpson—first for his electric play on the gridiron as a member of the Buffalo Bills in the 1970s, then for his highly publicized 1995 trial in which he was acquitted of the murders of Nicole Brown Simpson, his former wife, and Ronald Goldman.

    The most famous O.J. in every Giants fan's heart is Ottis "O.J." Anderson—the ferocious running back who came to New York during the twilight of his career, but was able to actualize his destiny before retiring as a Giant.

    In his prime, which included two Pro Bowls and an All-Pro selection, Anderson was a St. Louis Cardinal. For seven-and-a-half seasons, Anderson was a very good player on a very bad team; the Cardinals qualified for the playoffs only once during Anderson's tenure, and that was during the strike-shortened season of 1982. 

    While Anderson had experienced a great deal of success in St. Louis, recording five 1,000-yard seasons, he wanted something else. He wanted something the Cardinals couldn't offer.

    In 1986, Anderson joined the Giants midseason via trade. Although he earned a Super Bowl ring that season, Anderson's role in New York seemed microscopic compared to the one he left behind in St. Louis. 

    He played just four games the following season, recording six yards on only two carries.  What Anderson believed to be his destiny, to be the Super Bowl MVP in his home state of Florida, was beginning to look like a pipe dream.  

    Anderson didn't quit. He returned to the Giants in '88, embracing his role as a goal-line and short-yardage back by scoring eight touchdowns. In '89, he became the Giants' full-time starting running back, carrying the ball over 300 times for 1,023 yards and 14 touchdowns. 

    He rushed for 120 yards and a touchdown in a disappointing playoff loss to the Los Angeles Rams that season. Still, at 32 years old, Anderson wasn't done.

    In 1990, Anderson started 11 games, scoring an equal amount of touchdowns along the way. In the playoffs, with backup Jeff Hostetler at quarterback, Anderson charged forward with one stout performance after another; he knew that year's Super Bowl would be played in Tampa, FL.

    In the Super Bowl, Anderson controlled the clock by rushing for 102 yards and a touchdown on 21 carries. He was named the game's MVP, and his dream had finally come true.  Because of the significant role Anderson played in the franchise's second Super Bowl victory, Giants fans think of him rather than Simpson when the name O.J. is mentioned.

You Hate the Philadelphia Eagles

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    The Giants certainly do not have a friendly relationship with any of their division rivals, but the hatred fans have toward the Philadelphia Eagles is easily the deepest.

    Because of their proximity—New York and Philadelphia are less than 100 miles apart—fan territories tend to overlap, making for some exciting Sundays when the Giants and Eagles are scheduled to face off. 

    In spite of a recent stretch in which the Giants have lost eight of their last 10 contests with the Eagles, New York still leads the all-time series with a record of 84-76-2. When playoff games (2-2) are included, there is no team the Giants have played more in their 88-year history.

    On Oct. 15, 1933, the Giants and Eagles met for the first time at the Polo Grounds. New York won that game decisively, 56-0, and one of professional sports' greatest rivalries was born. Since then, the bad blood has been endlessly brewing between these two teams, as both squads constantly jockey for Mid-Atlantic dominance.

    The rivalry has yielded several epic moments, including Eagles linebacker Chuck Bednarik's crushing hit on Giants tailback Frank Gifford during Philadelphia's 1960 championship season. 

    There's also the "Miracle in the Meadowlands," which is better known as "The Fumble" among Giants fans, and the "Miracle in the New Meadowlands," which occurred 32 years later.  

    The Giants have also had their moments, including a 20-10 playoff win over the Eagles in 2000, which was not as close as the score indicated, even though the Giants failed to score an offensive touchdown. 

    In 2006, quarterback Eli Manning and the Giants overcame a 17-point, fourth-quarter deficit to win, 30-24, on a 31-yard touchdown pass from Manning to Plaxico Burress in overtime.

    Every Giants fan will find him or herself in an argument with an Eagles fan at some point in life.

    At that time, a Giants fan will usually recite the ways in which their team is the better franchise historically: The Eagles have never won a Super Bowl...the Giants have more division championships (16 to 11)...the Eagles have never had a 10,000-yard rusher...the Giants have more Hall of Famers (28 to 19), etc.

    But Giants and Eagles fans both know all that truly matters is who wins the next one. You can forget the past on October 6, when the Eagles visit MetLife Stadium in Week 5 of the 2013 season.

The Name Changed, but You Know Who Really Owns MetLife Stadium

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    Remember when New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan said that his Jets were the Giants' "big brother"?

    The Giants delivered Ryan's Jets a season-crushing, 29-14, loss following his incendiary comments, just in case the Giants' championship memorabilia scattered throughout MetLife—not to mention the three-and-a-half decades in which the Giants existed before the creation of the Jets—didn't remind him who the true "big brother" was.

    The Giants have always been New York's team. The city's support for the team has been undying, whether the gridiron beneath them was at MetLife Stadium, Giants Stadium, the Yale Bowl, Shea Stadium, Yankees Stadium or the Polo Grounds. Because of the Giants, football has been a staple in New York since the team's establishment in 1925.

    Several teams have tried and failed to survive next to the Giants, including the now-defunct Brooklyn Dodgers/Tigers and New York Yankees, who featured Red Grange in the height of his popularity. 

    The Jets, originally a member of the rebel AFL, are the only team to have held their own while competing for New York airtime with the Giants. While the Jets have a respectable history of their own, it's not nearly as long and storied as that of the Giants.

    Just take a look at some of the names around the Giants' ring of honor: the Mara's—Tim, Jack and Wellington—who built the team from nothing; coaches like Steve Owen and players like Mel Hein, who were Giants during the team's earliest championship seasons; names like Ken Strong and Al Blozis, which are virtually unknown today, yet carry a certain mystique, as the corresponding jersey numbers have gone unused for decades; and innovators like Lawrence Taylor, a one-of-a-kind pass-rusher, and Pete Gogolak, the NFL's first soccer-style kicker.

    This fall, beneath the names of these great players, coaches and executives, the 2013 Giants, the 89th version of the team, will take the field at MetLife Stadium. 

    By the "NY" on their helmets, these current Giants, clad in Big Blue, will share a connection with those etched in the annals of New York history. Many will aspire to one day be an Owen or a Hein or a Taylor, but few will succeed.

Fan Suggestions

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    If you can think of a way to know you're a Giants fan that I've missed, give me your input in the comment section. If your suggestion proves that you are a true Giants fan, it will be added to this slide.

    You know you're a New York Giants fan if...

    You think Eli Manning is an elite quarterback.

    You know the Marlboro Man as Chuckin' Charlie.

    The movie "Big Fan" hits too close to home.

    There's only one LT (sorry, LaDainian).

    You still refer to Bill Parcells as "The Tuna."

    Jim Burt is a traitor.  -Carmine Ginocchio

    You remember John Tuggle.  -David Buford

    You get mad when you do a web search for 'Giants' news and it gives you updates on San Francisco.  -Luke Bishop

    You thought the QB of the future was Dave Brown … then Kent Graham …. then Danny Kannell.  -Marc Suckiel

    You cried when Eli hoisted the Lombardi Trophy.  -Dilip Sridhar

    Historical information and stats courtesy of Pro-Football-Reference.com, Wikipedia, Giants Gab and Bread City unless noted otherwise.