I can still remember the moment that started me on my way to becoming the Giants fan I am today. It wasn’t a moment of excitement like going to my first game, a moment of heartbreak like losing the Super Bowl to my best friend’s Baltimore Ravens or a moment of intense joy like finally winning it all.
It was a moment of petty jealousy.
I won’t pretend to remember the exact year or my exact age, but I couldn’t have been much older than 10. My mother, father, sister and I had just arrived in England for our family vacation.
We were sitting inside a cab on our way to the hotel when someone mentioned that soccer was known as “football” in England. Staying on that topic, my father asked me if I wanted to go to a Giants football game that year (my uncle had season tickets). At the time, I was a huge fan of baseball, hockey, basketball and even soccer.
But for some odd reason, I had no interest in ‘American football’ (which is strange, because being a Giants fan is something that runs in my family…I guess I was a late bloomer).
Of course, being the spoiled brat I was at the time (one of the few things I remember about this trip to England was that I spent at least half of it complaining), I declined the invite, saying that football was boring.
My father tried to explain to me that it was one of the most exciting sports, and being at the game was even more special. But still, I ungratefully turned down the offer. That is, until he invited my sister.
What is the old saying? You always want what you can’t have? Well suddenly, at the exact moment that my sister agreed to go to the game, a switch was flicked inside of me: I wanted nothing more than to go to Giants Stadium and watch my new favorite team play.
I still feel bad, because eventually I got my way and I was taken to the game, while my sister stayed at home. I have a feeling that she never really intended on going to the game, and was only feigning a desire to get on my nerves (kids can be so cruel). Either way, I regret nothing.
It may sound silly, but going to that first game is one of the most important days of my life.
Being that I was only ten and had never watched a football game in my life, I had very little clue as to what was going on. I knew that the team in blue and white was the Giants and the team in red and white was the Redskins, and that I was supposed to stand up and cheer when everyone around me stood up and cheered.
I knew that a touchdown was six or seven points and a field goal was three points. I knew that the cold, wet feeling on my feet was the beer that the guy behind me spilled, and I knew that I would not be able to taste anything for a week after I burned my tongue on the hot chocolate my uncle bought me.
I knew that if I didn’t stand up and move my legs every couple of minutes, they would freeze and break off. Most importantly, I knew that, despite all of this, I was having a great time, even if I didn’t quite know why.
On the walk back to our car, I remember my uncle and older cousin talking angrily about how the team had no guts and how they needed a new quarterback (I think it was Dave Brown at the time).
There was a guy selling pretzels fresh from a shopping cart, and I very much wanted to enjoy one, but I didn’t dare interrupt the fierce debate to ask for money. Besides, I didn’t understand why everyone was so upset; we just watched a live football game!
But my transformation into a full fledged die-hard big blue fan was just beginning. Flash forward four years to a 14-year-old boy sitting on his bed, crying his eyes out. I believe that you cannot call yourself a fan until you suffer with your team, and it was this moment when I truly felt a member of the Giants family.
The Giants had lost the most important game in the history of sports (at least that’s what it felt like to a fourteen year old kid), and it was to my best friend’s Baltimore Ravens. But as excruciating as it was, I remember thinking that the pain I felt would only make me a stronger fan; would only make me love my team more.
And I took that thought to heart.
The next day, I wore my Giants sweatshirt and hat to school, and I was the only one brave enough to show their Giants pride. When everyone else had switched to their Mets or Yankees paraphernalia, I made what I thought at the time was the ultimate statement, showing that I was a New York Giant 365 days a year, no matter the circumstances.
Wearing the same ensemble the next weekend in downtown Baltimore while visiting my friend might have been a little overboard.
But all of the trials and tribulations have turned me into a true die-hard fan of the Giants and of the NFL in general. If it weren’t for all of the heartbreaks and pitfalls, finally experiencing the ultimate victory on Feb. 3, 2008 would not have tasted so sweet (like some kind of nectar mixed with angels tears...seriously delicious).
And as I broke my roommate’s wooden spoon because I banged it too hard against his pot while standing amongst a crowd of Giants fans after toppling the unbeatable New England Patriots, it never once crossed my mind that the excitement, heartbreak and joy that I had felt over my career as a Giants fan could all be linked back to childish jealousy.