5 Things a New York Giants Fan Says
How does one know he or she is a true blue New York Giants fan?
To start, one could read my article from last week, "10 Ways You Know You're a New York Giants Fan." If that doesn't cut it, then this article may help. Inside, I've listed five things New York Giants fans always find themselves saying.
If you've heard yourself say any of the phrases listed in this article, you're probably a diehard Jints fan. Enjoy this homage to undying New York fandom and, in the comment section, be sure to share any phrases, sayings or mottos that I may have missed.
"In Reese We Trust"
New York Giants general manager Jerry Reese, like his predecessors Ernie Accorsi and George Young, is loved by fans. His track record is impeccable, as the 49-year-old Big Blue executive's ability to assess NFL talent seems unmatched.
Fans appreciate Reese so much that they have adopted the motto "In Reese we trust," a spinoff of the United States of America's official motto "In God we trust," which has graced U.S. currency since the mid-1800s. The motto is usually uttered among Giants fans as justification for a peculiar release or unusual signing.
Reese's forte may be his nose for incoming talent. His first draft class as GM, in 2007, was a stroke of genius. Seven of his eight draft selections that year became consistent contributors as rookies.
Specific selections such as second-rounder Steve Smith (pick No. 51), a wide receiver from USC, and fifth-rounder Kevin Boss (pick No. 153), a tight end from Western Oregon, played crucial roles in the Giants' 2007 Super Bowl run. Selections like fourth-rounder Zak DeOssie (pick No. 116), a long snapper from Brown, and seventh-rounder Ahmad Bradshaw (pick No. 250), a running back from Marshall, eventually became staple Giants, leading the franchise in its quest for another Lombardi Trophy four years later.
For the most part, Reese's personnel moves have paid off big time, even when they seem to be disastrous. His decision to cut longtime Giants offensive linemen Rich Seubert and Shaun O'Hara before the 2011 season angered and confused many fans. Reese quelled his supporters' doubts by delivering another Super Bowl victory.
The GM's credibility was further boosted when Jason Pierre-Paul, his project of a first-round selection the year before, became the league's prototypical 4-3 defensive end in only his second season.
"The G-MEN Play Best with Their Backs Against the Wall"
The Giants and their fans are familiar with hot starts; in seven of head coach Tom Coughlin's nine seasons in New York, the team has posted a record of 6-2 or better at the midway point. The real crunch time begins, as Giants fans know, when the regular season begins to wind down to just a few games.
For some reason, the Giants repeatedly put themselves in this position. Halfway through the season, they look like the class of the NFL, the NFC's team to beat and a sure bet to clinch a playoff bid.
Yet every year, there is a total or near-total collapse down the stretch. In 2007 and 2011, the Giants were miraculously resilient, bouncing back from their late-season turmoil en route to a pair of Super Bowl championships. These runs have birthed the phrase, "The Giants play best with their backs against the wall."
While it has proved to be true on two separate occasions, the phrase has provided Giants fans more false hope than anything else.
The epic cave-ins of '08, '09 and '10 were increasingly painful with each passing year. Last season, Giants fans witnessed their team's grip on the division lead loosen as back-to-back embarrassing losses to the Atlanta Falcons and Baltimore Ravens nipped them from playoff contention in late December.
Too often, the Giants' late-season performances are the antithesis of one of their fans' favorite claims.
"You Can't Spell 'Elite' Without E-L-I"
In his nine NFL seasons, New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning has disproved Murphy's Law of Thermodynamics—things get worse under pressure—countless times.
When Manning placed himself among the NFL's quarterbacking elite, few supported his claim. Although Manning had been steadily improving since his rookie season, he still hadn't met the surreal expectations tied to his last name.
To non-Giants fans, he was an average quarterback with a bit of unnatural luck, which helped him top a previously unbeatable New England Patriots team in Super Bowl XLII, his fourth season in the league.
That unnatural luck is what former Giants general manager Ernie Accorsi, the man behind the draft-day trade for Manning, likes to call magic. And according to Accorsi, this so-called magic is essential for the making of an all-time great quarterback.
Manning first showcased his magic in Week 6 of the 2005 season in a thrilling come-from-behind victory over the Denver Broncos as time expired.
Since that very raw moment, Manning has developed a knack for late-game heroics, transforming the two-minute drill from an act of desperation to an exact science. In nine seasons, Manning has engineered 28 heart-pounding, game-winning drives.
Manning still may not be the most popular quarterback in the league. Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers and New Orleans' Drew Brees have wowed football fans with their eye-popping statistics in recent years, and New England's Tom Brady is still widely viewed as the best quarterback to have under center with the game on the line.
But ask any Giants fan who they would rather have quarterbacking their team, and the answer will always be nobody.
"If Plaxico Hadn't Shot Himself in the Leg…"
The 2008 Giants were destined for greatness, on pace to become the most dominant team in franchise history at one point. Showing no signs of a Super Bowl hangover, the '08 Giants featured a stout defense and a powerful running game, cruising to an 11-1 record through Week 13.
The Giants seemed destined to repeat as Super Bowl champions, and the makings of a dynasty appeared to be falling into place…until wide receiver Plaxico Burress shot himself in the leg at a night club in Manhattan, simultaneously ending his season (almost his career) and the Giants title hopes.
In the four remaining games of the regular season, the Giants claimed just one victory, setting the stage for a gut-wrenching 23-11 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles in the divisional round of the playoffs.
Although Burress wasn't having his most impressive season statistically—he compiled just 454 yards and four touchdowns on 35 catches—his absence threw off the fragile offensive balance New York had been maintaining all season. Teams were afraid of Burress, and without him in the Giants' lineup, they were able to focus on slowing the Giants' bruising running game.
Despite the efforts of a pair of 1,000-yard rushers in Brandon Jacobs and Derrick Ward, the Giants were unable to rebound from the loss of Burress. The '08 season became the first of a trilogy of disappointing collapses.
A Giants fan may find him or herself wondering half-aloud, "If Plaxico hadn't shot himself in the leg…" every now and again. How would it have altered the course of Giants history? Perhaps the era between '07 and '11 would be viewed as more dynastic, rather than two isolated incidents in which the Giants got hot at just the right time.
Current Giants offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride is about as far as one can get from a fan favorite. Gilbride's sometimes conservative and usually predictable play-calling has earned him the nickname Kevin "Killdrive."
Every Giants fan knows that Gilbride's favorite play to call on 3rd-and-long is the halfback draw, but not everyone realizes the impeccable offensive output the Giants have enjoyed since he took over as the coordinator in 2007. Gilbride, formerly the Giants quarterbacks coach, has combined aspects of run-and-shoot with Coughlin's offensive philosophy to create a scheme that caters to Manning's strengths perfectly.
In all but Gilbride's first season as offensive coordinator, the Giants have fielded a top-10 offense (points scored).
The team almost always features a balanced attack (about 45 percent run, 55 percent pass), but Gilbride has also been flexible when the Giants struggle in a certain offensive aspect. In 2008, with a dominant ground game, he knew to keep feeding his running backs; in 2011, when the rushing game struggled, he knew to put the ball in Manning's hand more often.
On Sundays, Giants fans may find themselves screaming, "C'mon Killdrive!" as New York's offense sputters, but it's important to remember the success he has sustained as the team's OC. And be thankful that John Hufnagel is no longer calling the Giants' offensive shots.