Have you ever seen a youngster's face when he plays the game of football? Many dream of one day playing the game professionally, but very few get the chance.
My name is Jeffrey Zino and I was one of those youngsters who played with my friends in the backyard, pretending I was a Super Bowl MVP like Phil Simms. I began watching the game of football when I was 13 years old and never stopped. I watched every second of every game. Often, while watching these players, I became obsessed with the team they played for and was transformed into a die hard fan.
Playing football was one of the greatest experiences of my life. I love the comradery between all the players and I love the way the game is played. High School was the first time I had the chance to play the game.
I wasn't the biggest guy on the field or the fastest. Since I didn't have the necessary tools to play, I decided to study and watch the professional game in depth. I watched every Giants game since the 2000 season.
I'm a very passionate Giants fan and believe the team is the best thing in sports today. They have everything going for them, being two years removed from the best Super Bowl victory in history and having made the playoffs for four consecutive years.
In watching the Giants during the 2000 season, I recognized the fight in that team after Coach Jim Fassel (1997-2003) made his bold statement, "The team is going to the playoffs."
Many people had written the Giants off because they were coming off back-to-back losses at home against St. Louis and Detroit, and their record stood at 7-4. Usually a 7-4 record is a great start, but in New York, it's way short of impressive.
After the bold statement made by Coach Fassel, the team responded by winning their remaining regular season games, and finished the season with a 12-4 record and securing the top seed in the NFC.
Later in that miracle year, the Giants earned a Super Bowl berth by defeating the Minnesota Vikings 41-0 at home in the NFC Championship game. That was the last hurrah for the Giants and Coach Fassel. Two weeks later in Tamp Bay, they were defeated by the Baltimore Ravens in the Super Bowl, by a score of 34-7.
After their heartbreaking defeat, the Giants never rebounded and fired Jim Fassel before the 2004 season began.
Watching the team fight in the 2000 season was the most inspirational moment I ever witnessed. I was 13 years old during the 2000 season, and I loved the game of football more than anything, due to the fight the Giants showed.
With the hiring of Tom Coughlin in 2004, the Giants were headed in a different direction. Coughlin was known to be a hard nosed guy who didn't care what people thought about him. Coughlin and the Giants pulled off a draft day trade with the San Diego Charges acquiring quarterback Eli Manning from Ole' Miss. They saw Manning as their quarterback of the future.
Many people were calling for Couglin's head after a disappointing 2004 season that saw the Giants finish the year with a 6-10 record. That record wasn't a sign of things to come. Coughlin and Eli Manning led the Giants to two straight playoff appearances in 2005 and 2006. Unfortunately, they lost in the wildcard round both years.
People were still calling for Coughlin's head in the beginning of the 2007 season, when the team lost the first two games by allowing a total of 80 points. What made it even worse was their loss to division rival Dallas in the first game, by a score of 45-35.
The night before their next game against another division rival, the Washington Redskins, the Giants coaches called on Army Lieutenant Colonel Greg Gadsen to motivate the team.
Gadsen said, "I spoke from the heart, as a soldier and as a former football player, for about 10-15 minutes. I talked to them about appreciating the opportunities in their lives, how special and privileged they were, how everybody needs to understand what they truly have."
The inspirational speech by Gadsen changed the New York Giants 2007 season dramatically. They went on to finish the season with a 10-6 record and clinched their third consecutive playoff birth. Tom Coughlin became the first Giants coach since Bill Parcells to make the playoffs in three consecutive years.
By having Lt. Gadsen attend every playoff game, the Giants saw an inspirational figure and won all three road playoffs games on their way to a berth in Super Bowl XLII.
The Giants made Lt. Gadsen an honorary team captain for the Super Bowl. The Giants never looked back and defeated the then undefeated New England Patriots.
The fight you see these Giant teams go through over the years, makes you continuously want to see them succeed. Watching the way the Giants progressed since I was a young 13-year-old fan, makes me want to learn the game and study it even more.