Why I Grew Up a Giants Fan
I guess you could say it was a birthright. It was something that was drummed into your small head at an early age. The Football on your Dad's Bookshelf with all the autographs. Huff, Grier, Summerall, Rote, Shofner, Tittle. "The Scrapbook" with all the newspaper clippings from the 1950's and early 1960's when i was a mere babe.
There was nothing my dad didn't know about the history of the game in general and the New York Giants. "What was the Final Score of the Sneakers game"? Dad would drill me. My answer had to be exact. "Giants 30 Bears 13. The Equipment manager took the A train from the polo grounds to Manhattan college's Gym to borrow 8 pairs of sneakers because the field was iced over and the players cleats couldn't get a grip. NY responded with 27 4th quarter points to win once they changed footwear." Not that my Dad was at that game, he didn't begin going to Giants games until 1939, at the age of 10. But my Grandfather was there, and he probably told my dad the story 30 times. I must have heard all the stories about the teams from the 1930's through the 1950's.
Then came the "dark" period. Eighteen years without a winning record. Still, if you even thought of rooting for another team, your bags would be packed. We were a NY Giants household. Of course I had to deal with all the cowboys fans on my street. "Giiiaaants Suck" they would say. Then came the "fumble" that made Herman Edwards famous, and expanded my loathing beyond Dallas. I now hated the Eagles even more. During this time is when i became a "draftnik" because i knew that the only way the Giants would be able to build a winner. The only problem was that the Giants had no one in their front office in the 1970's who knew how to draft, save for the owner, and he was doing it all off of yellow legal pads and college football magazines.
After the "fumble" all that changed. We had the "st. valentines day" Bloodbath of Feb. 14th 1979. That's when The Mara family wised up and brought in a real football man to run things in George Young. This was when my Dad began to write Mr. Young letters about who he thought would be best for the Giants to draft. To my surprise, Mr. Young wrote back, and hand written replies at that. "Mr. Young" my Dad would always start a letter "i hope this day finds you well."
One of those early letters from my dad to Mr. Young was about this outside linebacker from the University of North Carolina named Lawrence Taylor. Not that my dad would ever take credit for that, but having been a High School star, and also having played millitary service football, dad knew a thing or two. If he had never become a federal law enforcement officer, he'd have been a football coach. My father used to write letters to coaches to get 8 or 16 mm. film of practices to "show" the players from the Pop Warner team what a real practice was like, or a real training camp was like. But he also studied the players in these films.
He sure knew how to be my football coach! If i missed a 25 yard field goal i had to run five laps and do 25 push ups. I was eleven. My football education went hand in hand with our Giants fan-ship. If i made a foolish comment about a play during a home game dad would say "are you sure your My Son?" We finally shared some good times as Giants fans when they returned to respectability in the 1980's. The last game we saw together was SB XXI in Stanford Stadium in Palo Alto Ca. on January 25th 1987. In case your memory doesn't go back that far, the Giants beat The Denver Broncos 39-20. "Now i can Die in Peace" he would tell me on the flight home.
He passed away on December 18th 1987, 3 months short of his 59th birthday. He was buried in his Dress Uniform from work, with two tickets to the next day's Giants Packers game in his breast pocket, and my 1963 Y.A. Tittle card next to the tickets.
These days i hope i put a smile on his face when he sees me working at the NFL Draft, or covering a local college game.
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