The New York Giants are one of the most storied and successful franchises in NFL History. One of the few teams who can say they've been a part of the NFL since the beginning, there are certainly a huge bank of players to examine when making a top 50 list of all time.
One thing you'll notice is the rush of defensive players that sit at the top of the list; the Giants have been known for their great defensive players over the years and it's no secret who the No. 1 player is.
But who fills in at 2-50? Let's take a look.
Al Blozis makes this list even though he only played two seasons with the Giants because of the level of play he performed at in those two seasons and the nature of his short time with the team.
You see, it was common practice back in his day for players to end or suspend their careers in order to serve our country, which Blozis did so during World War II.
He made the Pro Bowl in just his second season as an offensive lineman for the Giants and could have returned from the war with a chance for a great career, but his life was cut short in service of our country.
I have respect for that, and maybe someone else should have made the list, but it's my list and I felt compelled to tell his story.
Jason Sehorn has a solid, yet unspectacular career with the Giants, mainly because he severely injured his knee in the preseason of 1998, his fifth season in the NFL. He was never the same and remained with the Giants through the 2003 season.
It was surprising to see a white player like Sehorn play so well at a predominately black position, but Sehorn was every bit as good as most starters in the NFL prior to his knee injury.
In the 1996 and 1997 seasons—his first two as the full time starter—he had five and six interceptions and a touchdown returned in each season. He was also an accomplished punt and kick returner.
If only he didn't suffer that knee injury he could have been one of the best corners of his era.
Though recognized for his great play with only one Pro Bowl, Jumbo Elliot was certainly a favorite of fans and Bill Parcells alike.
Known for his incredible size and athleticism, he could handle any opposing team's leading pass rusher, allowing Phil Simms to have a wonderful end to his career. After Elliot was drafted in 1988, the number of sacks allowed by the Giants offensive line dropped dramatically.
Parcells loved Elliot so much that he made sure to bring him along when he returned to coaching with the New York Jets in 1996.
Just as Osi Umenyiora has Justin Tuck, Michael Strahan had Keith Hamilton playing across from him. Hamilton was drafted by the Giants and played all 12 seasons with them, though 11 of them were overshadowed by the dominance of Strahan.
Hamilton's presence made it impossible for teams to double team and neutralize Strahan. The moment you slept on Hamilton is the moment he made you pay.
He only made the Pro Bowl team once, but it he definitely had a long and good career with Big Blue.
Though not the flashiest player in the world, Pepper Johnson was a solid player that flourished in the shadow of future hall of fame linebackers Lawrence Taylor and Harry Carson. When Harry Carson retired in 1988, it opened the door for Johnson who was a smart, savy player who rarely made mistakes.
In essence, he was the perfect fit for Bill Belichick's 3-4 defense.
He also had 25.5 sacks; as a blitzer he was able to utilize the attention LT would receive and put pressure on the QB up the middle.
He has won five rings in his career—two as a player with the Giants and three more as an assistant coach for Belichick's Patriots.
Spider Lockhart played for the Giants in a time in which they were pretty awful as a franchise for the most part, but he was still a very talented safety well known for his big play ability.
He anchored the back end of the Giants defense for 10 seasons, amassing 41 interceptions and two Pro Bowl bids.
You may remember the Spider patch worn by players during the 1986 season. He lost a battle with cancer that year and the Giants honored him by wearing the patch and won the Super Bowl that season.
Before he was Tom Landry the Giants defensive coordinator and then the greatest Dallas Cowboys coach ever, he was a defensive back for the Giants.
Not only was he a great defensive back, collecting 32 interceptions, but he returned punts and was the team's punter.
He displayed characteristics on the field—leadership, intelligence, and the ability to read offenses—that would make him such a great coach in the future.
In his first season as an assistant coach only (he was a player-coach in 1954-55), he created the 4-3 defense specifically for rookie Sam Huff in 1956. The Giants would go on to win the NFL championship that season.
Though, admittedly, his Hall of Fame status was almost certainly due to his work as the Dallas Cowboys head coach. He amazingly was their coach for 29 straight seasons, surpassed only by Chicago Bears head coach George Halas.
He coached the Cowboys to their first winning season in 1966, and they never fell below .500 again for the next 20 years. That's incredible.
Benny Friedman is not a name you'll hear thrown around with some of the best quarterbacks of all time, but he definitely deserves a spot on this list despite only playing three seasons with the Giants.
In his incredible 1928 season, he led the league in passing touchdowns, rushing touchdowns, and extra point kicks. It impressed Giants owner Tim Mara so much that he bought the Detroit Wolverines so he could secure Friedman's services.
As the Hall of Fame website notes, it is believed his career completion percentage was more than 50 percent, which is unbelievable considering 35 percent was good at the time.
In his first season with the Giants, he became the first passer to toss 20 touchdowns. He was elected as first team All Pro in his first four seasons in the NFL.
Ray Flaherty's contributions noted in his Hall of Fame induction were definitely in his work as a head coach, but he was one of the first great offensive lineman for the Giants.
He was selected to the All-NFL team three times. His impact on the game is lasting; he created the behind the line of scrimmage screen pass and introduced the idea of players only playing one way.
Though most of his players still did play two ways because it's what they were known for, he did put his foot down for his two platoon offense, which had two different units for passing and rushing offense.
Mark Haynes looked like one of the best defenders in the game for three years in the early 80s. He was arguably one of the best cover corners at that time and made both the All Pro and Pro Bowl from 1982-1984.
However, he would not finish his career with the Giants, leaving after the 1985 season to join the Broncos in 1986.
In his final great season in 1984, he had seven interceptions and many felt he would be around for a while, but injuries derailed him in 1985 and his career would fall off from there. He only had four interceptions in four seasons with the Broncos.
Though Erich Barnes was only on the Giants for four seasons, he made the Pro Bowl each year for the team and was a staple on a defense that led the Giants to the title game three years in a row from 1961 to 1963.
The Giants went through a period of down times in the late 60s and 70s, which was due mainly to them losing several of their defensive stars, and Barnes is included in that when the Giants traded him to Cleveland.
He had 18 interceptions in four season with the Giants and his 102 yard touchdown return on an interception tied an NFL record at the time.
Cal Hubbard would be much higher up this list had he not only played two meaningful seasons with the Giants. He helped the Giants win the title in 1927 and was elected as an All-Pro in 1928.
However, a road game with the Green Bay Packers in the 1928 season caused him to demand a trade to the team before the 1929 season. He wasn't a big proponent of big cities, and the Giants obliged his request.
Hubbard and Hall of Famer Steve Owen teamed up to anchor one of the greatest defenses of the time. They allowed only 20 points in 13 games, though low scoring was common place back then, and had 10 shutouts.
Hubbard went on to have a great career with the Packers, winning the title with them for his first three years. He won a title in four of his first five years as a pro.
One wonders how good the Giants could have been had he been able to handle the big city life.
Carl Banks was perhaps overshadowed by Lawrence Taylor to the common fan, but Giants fans everywhere will tell you Banks was an incredibly talented guy.
He played with heart and determination, not unlike most of the late 1980's and early 90's defense for the Giants.
Not such a bad pass rusher himself, Banks played opposite LT and racked up 39.5 sacks of his own during his career while making one Pro Bowl.
Shaun O'Hara has been a staple on the Giants offensive line for several years and is slowly becoming one of the better centers they've ever had. I'm not sure he'll ever be on the level of Mel Hein historically, but he's certainly made a case for No. 2.
He anchored the Giants offensive line en route to the 2007 Super Bowl championship, a team known for it's great defensive play and the ability to tire defenses with their running attack.
The way the Giants milked the clock in the Super Bowl against the Patriots was nothing short of brilliant, and O'Hara leading the way for the lineman was a huge part of that.
Roosevelt Grier was another incredible piece to the puzzle that allowed the Giants to win the 1956 NFL championship. He was a monster in the middle of their defense and was elected to the All Pro team as a defensive tackle five times with the Giants.
He would go on to have an interesting post-football life, including being a body guard for the Ethel and Robert Kennedy. He famously helped subdue the assassin who claimed Robert's life.
He also became a popular actor, christian minister, author, and singer.
It is often argued who is the better defensive lineman on the Giants, no more so then when LeSean McCoy and Osi Umenyiora exchanged hurtful comments towards each other, which McCoy started by tweeting Osi was the third best defensive lineman on his team.
I happen to be of the mind set that Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora are perfect compliments to each other—Tuck being the better run defender and tackler and Osi being the better pass rusher.
If I had to take one guy, it would be Tuck, but it really isn't a bad choice either way.
Osi has led the Giants in sacks in all but two seasons—his rookie year and the year his missed due to injury.
Joe Morris was your prototypical running back during the 1980s era. He was overshadowed by a great quarterback but never under appreciated by fans or his coach.
He had three 1000 yard seasons with the Giants and was a great asset on offense to the 1986 Super Bowl team. In 1985 he had over 1300 yards and led the league with 21 touchdowns. He then exploded in the 1986 season with over 1500 yards in 15 games, averaging 101 yards per game and had 14 rushing touchdowns.
He was great in his seven years with the Giants. He made two Pro Bowls as well as led the franchise in rushing after he retired.
Justin Tuck has emerged in the last couple of seasons as one of the best defensive ends in the NFL. He had 79 tackles and 11.5 sacks, and six forced fumbles in 2010 and was named to the second team All-Pro team and the Pro Bowl. He accomplished that same feat in 2008.
He and Osi Umenyiora are one of the best tandem's at defensive end in the NFL. Tuck is one of the leaders on defense that leads by example.
His quiet, soft spoken nature goes away when game time roles around.
Bart Oates was a fixture on both of their Super Bowl championship teams. It's not a coincidence that every Giants championship team has had a great center, from Mel Hein to Shaun O'Hara.
Oates made three Pro Bowls with the New York Giants before making two more as a member of the San Francisco 49ers. He won three Super Bowls (two with New York and one with San Francisco) and is one of the most underrated players in Giants history.
I myself made the mistake of over looking him at first run through of my top 50, but I won't make that mistake again.
Though originally drafted as a running back, he could do it all in college and the Giants mainly used his skills as a wide receiver.
He made four Pro Bowls with the Giants and was a part of the Giants 1956 NFL championship team. He and Frank Gifford were both elite targets for quarterback Charlie Conerly.
He totaled 5668 yards and 52 touchdowns in 11 seasons.
Although Fran Tarkenton is most remembered for guiding the Minnesota Vikings to several Super Bowl trips, he spent five years with the Giants between his two stints in Minnesota, making the Pro Bowl four times.
His incredible career is considered one of the top 10 in NFL history, being the first quarterback who combined elite passing ability with the threat of the run to keep defenses honest.
He finished his career holding just about every passing record, though most believe he doesn't hold a candle to Johnny Unitas because Tarkenton never won a championship.
His passing numbers were as follows: 3,686 pass completions, 47,003 passing yards, and 342 touchdowns. That number of passing touchdowns stood 30 years before passed by Dan Marino in the 90s, and he is still fourth in the category and sixth in career passing yards.
Jeremy Shockey was supposed to be the next Mark Bavaro. Though not as big and supposedly not as tough, Shockey was an elite blocking prospect who also had the speed to kill defenses. He played with a mean streak and looked to punish defenders at any given moment.
In essence, he was the perfect weapon.
However, his attitude and luxurious lifestyle quickly turned him off among fans. Though many loved him on the field, many grew tired of hearing stories of him partying in Panama during the off seasons and hearing that he complained to Eli Manning he didn't get the ball enough.
Though Shockey holds some records for a tight end with the Giants (receptions, yards), most agree he doesn't hold a candle to Bavaro because of the way he left.
It's a shame he left the way he did because it's pretty well known how close he was to the Mara family. Shockey was one of the people Wellington Mara requested to see prior to his death.
But that's who Shockey was, it was mostly about him and fans will not forget the way he parted.
Chris Snee is one of the best guards in the NFL and will be for the next several years. He's only 29 and he's made the last three Pro Bowls and All Pro rosters.
He will definitely move up this list as his career comes to a close and will be one of the most celebrated lineman in Giants history.
Snee has been the model of consistency.
Thrusted in to the starting lineup as a rookie, he's only missed five games in his entire career, those coming in the final five of that season. He's started in every game since the 2005 season and doesn't look to relinquish his spot as the starter any time soon.
Drafted as the next great running back in the first round of the 1990 NFL Draft, Rodney Hampton would become one of the best at the position in Giants history.
He was an integral part of the 1990 Super Bowl team, spelling Super Bowl MVP Otis Anderson on occasion, and took over the starting job the very next year.
In the next five years Hampton had five straight 1000 yard seasons and never rushed for fewer than five touchdowns. He made the Pro Bowl twice in that span.
He was a workhorse and the years began to weight on him. He had two medicore seasons in 1996 and 1997 and would retire after appearing in just two games in the 1997 season.
Eli Manning, pending an injury, will likely go down as the leader in most of the Giants passing categories. He led the Giants to the most improbable Super Bowl championship ever, beating the New England Patriots who were favored by as many as 14.5 points.
He won Super Bowl MVP after leading the Giants on two 80 yard touchdown drives in the fourth quarter, famously hooking up with Plaxico Burress for the game winning score.
He has been up and down in his Giants career, often causing fans to turn on him. However more recently he's improved to that of a top 10 quarterback and will likely end his career as the greatest QB in Giants history.
Mark Bavaro is easily the greatest tight end in Giants history, despite only having six productive years with the team. He still holds records for most yards in a single season and is tied with Jeremy Shockey for most receptions in one season.
He may not have as many yards or receptions as Shockey does, by a long shot, but he did score more touchdowns and had a reputation as one of the toughest players in the NFL.
On on particular play against the San Francisco 49ers, he carried at least seven defenders for 20 yards, including All Pro and known big hitter Ronnie Lott.
The play defined Bavaro, who's also known as 'Rambo.'
It's hard to keep track of the many great linebacker tandems the Giants had in the 70s and 80s, but Brad Van Pelt was part of the group called the "Crunch Bunch" who were known for punishing their opponents with devastating hits.
That group consisted of Van Pelt, Lawrence Taylor, Harry Carson, and Brian Kelley.
Van Pelt's career was marred by team failure—the Giants made the postseason only once in his 11 seasons with the Giants and he suffered through four head coaches before playing with Bill Parcells.
He made five Pro Bowls and was named the player of the decade for the 1970s.
Red Badgro won't wow you with his stats or his flashy plays, he was just a great two-way player for a team that consistently contended for an NFL championship during his six years with the Giants.
Incredibly, it took the NFL until 1933 before someone scored a touchdown in a championship game, and Badgro was the first to do it, catching a 29 yard touchdown.
He was selected to the All-NFL team four times in his six years with the Giants. He was most known for his big play receptions and being one of the most shore tacklers in the entire league.
Although it seems highly likely that Amani Toomer will have most of his records shattered by either Steve Smith or Hakeem Nicks, if both stay healthy, there is no denying that Toomer is one of the best receivers the Giants have ever had.
He's never been an outstanding player and never considered one of the elite in his own time, but he had a long, steady career and was always there when his quarterback needed him.
He famously became Eli Manning's security blanket in desperate situations, rarely dropping a ball that he absolutely had to come down with.
Most people don't respect what Toomer accomplished mainly because his stats don't jump off the page, but that shouldn't matter. He still holds every major Giants receiving record and that should be enough.
To describe Steve Owen as a person, you need only look at the contract he signed with the Mara family when he became the team's head coach.
Oh wait, he didn't sign one. He and Tim Mara agreed he would become the head coach only on a hand shake. The agreement would last 24 years.
Before that, Owen was one of the first great lineman with the Giants. He captained the 1927 team and along side Cal Hubbard they dominated opponents by a margin of 197-20 on the way to the title.
Owen would lead the Giants to eight of the first 14 NFL Championships, winning two as the team's head coach and one as a player.
The fact that Jimmy Patton and Emlen Tunnell only got to play together for four seasons is a travesty. Emlen Tunnell is one of the best safeties of all time and Patton is right behind him on the all time list of Giants safeties.
Patton amassed 52 interceptions in 12 seasons with the Giants and made the Pro Bowl five times. He was part of six teams that made the NFL championship and a major piece to the 1956 championship team.
The many great linebackers in the 1980s and early 90s passed the torch to Jesse Armstead, who continued to exude excellence from the position.
He was elected to the Pro Bowl five times with the Giants and led them to the Super Bowl in 2000. That Giants defense was ranked number two in the NFL and it was due in large part to the leadership and play of Armstead.
Despite playing for the Giants mostly in years of turmoil, Joe Morrison did enough in his career to have his No. 40 jersey number retired.
He was a fantastic athlete who excelled both running and catching the football. By the time he called it quits he gained 2,474 rushing yards, 4993 receiving yards, and 65 total touchdowns in his career.
He had three different seasons with 30+ receptions and 100+ rushing attempts; he was your do-it-all guy and he never complained about it.
After playing with the Giants through three championship game losses in his first four years, the Giants never made it back to the post season with Morrison.
That doesn't take away from what he accomplished on the field, however.
Ken Strong was another one of those dependable players who could do just about everything on a football field. Though he spent most of the time carrying the rock, he also doubled as the team's place kicker on occasion.
His last name certainly did him justice as 206 lbs was huge for a tail back in those days.
In the 1934 championship game he set the record for most points scored by one person with 17—two touchdowns, two extra points, and one field goal. The record would stand for 30 years.
Strong made the All-NFL team five times with four different New York franchises, eight of those years being with the Giants.
Phil Simms didn't get the stats of some of his peers during the 1980s boom era of quarterbacks, but he did exactly what his coach expected of him, which is the trait of a great player.
He certainly had the capability of letting it loose and being a gun slinger, but Bill Parcells turned him in to a game manager and that is all that team needed to win titles.
And win they did.
He was great at protecting the ball and rarely made mistakes that costed his team a game. His performance in the Super Bowl against the Denver Broncos is legendary. In that game he went 22/25 for 268 yards and three touchdowns—a 150.9 near perfect QB rating.
The performance proved that the moment was never too big for Simms and when his team needed him in big moments he would perform.
The New York Giants 3-4 defense of the 1980s may not have been possible were it not for the dominance of defensive end George Martin.
Though they still could have been good, a great defense does not function without great defensive line play.
Most people nowadays associate the 3-4 defensive end as mainly a run stopping specialist, but Martin could get to the quarterback as if he was playing in the 4-3. He is credited with an astonishing 96 sacks in his career with the Giants, as well as an incredible seven defensive touchdowns.
He was a big play machine and you could always count on Martin to make a big play when offenses took their eyes off him.
"Tuffy" Leemans certainly embodied his "tuff" first name by doing just about anything and everything a team asked of him. He was the team's fullback and halfback rushing for over 3,000 yards, had over 400 receiving yards, and over 2,000 yards as a passer. He also played defense and returned punts.
Leemans made the All-Pro team in each of his first seven seasons with the Giants; it's no coincidence they were contenders during that time due to the great play of guys like Leemans and Strong.
To put it in plainly, there was nothing on the field Leemans couldn't do, and he made a name for himself that way. After his retirement in 1941, the Giants named December 7 "Tuffy Leemans Day."
Leemans' addition to the Giants in the first ever NFL draft in 1936 has an interesting story. Tim Mara was the Giants owner at the time when his young high school son Wellington told him of an incredibly talented player out of George Washington University.
The Giants drafted Leemans in the second round of that draft and Wellington would become the Giants long time owner from 1959 to 2005. He has since passed on the team to his son John; the Giants are one of very few remaining franchises who still have their original family owners.
Though not the most popular guy off the field now, you can't ignore all the records that Tiki Barber shattered in his time with the Giants.
It took a few years for him to really etch his name among the NFL's best running backs, but when he did he put to bed any notion of him being only a third down running back.
Among many other records, he's the Giants leader in rushing attempts, yards, and touchdowns—the three major categories.
He also, more amazingly, had over 5,000 receiving yards and joins only Hall of Famers Marshall Faulk and Marcus Allen as guys who rushed for over 10,000 yards and also had 5,000 receiving yards.
In my opinion, Barber is the greatest running back to put on a Giants uniform, though another player is on the list later because of his sheer versatility.
If not for the absolute brilliance of Y.A. Tittle in his four years with the Giants, Charlie Conerly would be the greatest QB in Giants history.
Sure the record books may have Phil Simms a notch or two ahead of Conerly in terms of production, but the era of the quarterback was much different in Conerly's time.
173 touchdown passes in the 1950s looks a whole lot better than the 199 touchdown passes from Phil Simms in the 1980s, especially when so many of Simms' peers surpassed the 200 mark.
Conerly was the definition of a field general, something he likely picked up while touring with the Marines in the South Pacific during World War II. His teammates went to battle with him and he led them to greatness.
It's a damn shame Conerly played in the era he did, overshadowed by his peers Otto Graham and perhaps Norm Van Brocklin, as well as by teammates Frank Gifford, Sam Huff, and Rosey Brown (whom all appear on the list higher than Conerly and played most of their career with him as their leader).
He would likely have garnered Hall of Fame honors if it weren't for those extenuating circumstances. Gifford constantly pleaded with voters to put Conerly in the Hall but to no avail; the Giants still rewarded him by retiring his No. 42 jersey at the end of his career.
Arnie Weinmeister was a larger than life talent whose career was another one cut short by service in the army. Though he played only four seasons with the Giants, he absolutely dominated on defense during that time.
In a time when over 5'9'' 200 lbs was considered a good sized man, Weinmeister sat at 6'4'', 240 lbs. He was elected to both the Pro Bowl and the All Pro team from 1950-1953 (his four years with the Jints) and remains one of the more celebrated Canadian born players in NFL history.
Not only did Weinmeister wow fans with his incredible size, but he was widely considered the fastest lineman in his era. Can you imagine the biggest lineman in the league today also being the fastest? Picture Vince Wilfork running a 4.7 forty. I'll wait.
Ok now that your jaw has closed, let's continue.
Weinmeister combined his brute strength and size with his speed to be a defensive machine, both stopping the run and rushing the passer. There was little anyone could do when Weinmeister picked up a head of steam and was one of the first defensive players to really capture the excitement from the fans.
His six year career is the shortest of any Hall of Famer in NFL history, which should tell you how dominant he was.
Andy Robustelli's career might have been a bit more exotic had the NFL kept quarterback sacks as a stat back in those days. As it stands, he's still one of the best defensive ends to play the game and is a legend among Giants fans.
He is credited for being an emotional leader and the glue to the 1956 NFL Championship team, which was loaded with Hall of Famers.
His passing recently was a sad day for fans everywhere, and being of a younger generation only makes me wish I could have seen him play. He had an incredible work ethic; the Rams drafted him to catch passes in 1951, but already had star wide outs at the time so Robustelli dedicated himself to the defensive side of the ball.
He is a hall of famer and made the Pro Bowl and All Pro rosters seven times each.
Y.A. Tittle made a name for himself for the San Francisco 49ers before joining the Giants in the twilight of his career, and nobody expected him to be as successful.
He led the Giants to the Eastern title in 1961, '62, and '63, winning the NFL MVP in some fashion in all three seasons. He first came to the Giants as a resented player who was replacing team favorite Charlie Conerly, but soon won over his teammates with his unbelievable play.
Although he made the title game with the Giants those three years, the title still eluded him and people point to that as a reason why he's not in the conversation for greatest in that era.
He still holds the record, along with a couple others, for tossing seven touchdown passes in a single game. He is one of the few Giants to have his number retired.
Though the Giants only had Tittle's service for four seasons, he tossed 96 touchdowns and only 68 interceptions during those four years. That would be a great run even by today's standards.
Although Tiki Barber stands alone with many of the Giants team rushing records, in terms of his greatness among his peers, he does not hold a candle to Frank Gifford.
Gifford was an offensive machine and a triple threat on offense. He could do it all; pass, run, catch, return kicks, and even played some very good defensive back.
Speaking to his incredible versatility, he made the Pro Bowl eight times and did so at three different positions—running back, defensive back, and wide receiver (flanker as it was known then).
In his career, he amassed 10,573 yards from rushing, passing, receiving, and return yards as well as 92 total touchdowns.
In 1956 he was the NFL MVP and the Giants won the NFL Championship that season.
If Antonio Pierce is the latest version of the storied history of Giants linebackers, Sam Huff started that history.
Huff started his career dominating for the Giants before joining the Redskins, but he definitely made a lasting impact on the Giants to say the least. He made five Pro Bowls in eight seasons with the Giants and was named the NFL's best linebacker in 1959.
His story is an interesting one. He was drafted as a guard out of college and the head coach at the time—Jim Lee Howell—had a difficult time finding a spot for Huff. Discouraged by this, Huff left for the airport and was chased down by an assistant coach who saw talent in him.
His name was Vince Lombardi, and he convinced Huff to return. Defensive Coordinator Tom Landry created the 4-3 defense, middle linebacker Ray Beck got hurt, and the rest is history.
It's amazing the amount of great pass rushers the Giants have had over the years. From Andy Robustelli all the way to Michael Strahan, there has always been someone to carry the torch.
Strahan is the Giants All-Time leader in sacks, was defensive player of the year in 2001 and 2003—setting the single season record for sacks in '01 with 22.5—and made the Pro Bowl seven times.
He is leaving his mark off the field seemingly as much as he did on it. He joined FOX NFL Sunday's crew after he retired in 2008, he had a short lived stint on FOX with his own sitcom, and is a candidate to replace Regis Philbin on his famed television show Live with Regis and Kelly.
That said, he'll probably never become as popular as an actor as when he was dominating on the football field.
If there is anyone who could challenge Rosey Brown as the Giants best offensive lineman, it's Mel Hein. Hein is the first and only offensive lineman to win the MVP award, playing 15 years with the Giants and never missed a single game due to injury.
He retired in 1945, was one of the first inductees in to the Hall of Fame when it opened in 1963, named the starting center on the NFL's 50th anniversary team, and even named No. 74 on The Sporting News' Top 100 players of all time.
Hein was Chuck Bednarik before there was a Chuck Bednarik; he dominated as the team's starting center and middle linebacker, often making as many plays on defense as he did opening holes on offense.
According to the Pro Football Hall of Fame website, Hein played 60 minutes a game and only called a timeout for himself once, so the people on the sideline could repair a broken nose and he could get back in to the game.
What Harry Carson meant to the Giants during the Bill Parcells era is difficult to put in to words. While Lawrence Taylor was dominating during that time, it was no secret who was the leader and captain of that those teams.
To put it in perspective, I asked my Dad before one Christmas if he could choose between getting a Carson or Taylor jersey, he spoke the name Carson before I could even finish the question, and the No. 53 jersey now sits in his closet.
Carson played the game with reckless abandoned and rarely missed games due to injury. He was the most dominant when the moment was greatest, signifying the characteristic of a truly great player.
He was part of two great linebacker groups, first playing with Taylor, Brad Van Pelt, and Brian Kelley in what was known as the "Crunch Bunch."
Carl Banks, Taylor, Carson, and Gary Reasons were arguably the greatest linebacker crew to ever suit up, getting dubbed the "Big Blue Wrecking Crew" in 1986. The Giants went 14-2 that year and only allowed 23 points in three playoff games en route to the title.
Emlen Tunnel is another player who will last through the history of the NFL as one of the greatest defensive players ever. The first African American player for the Giants as well as the first African American player to be elected to the Hall of Fame, Tunnell was definitely influential off the field as much as he was on it.
In one year, Tunnell actually had more interception and kick return yards than the NFL's leading rusher. He was known as the "offense on defense" in the famed Umbrella defense.
He's on any sane person's list of the greatest players of all time, and rightfully so. He had 79 interceptions in his career, second only to the career leader Paul Krause who has 81.
Tunnell was one of the reasons Steve Owen's famed umbrella defense worked so well. It was designed to keep everything in front of four defensive backs whose job was to make life hell for opposing passers.
In his first 10 years in the league, Tunnell never had less than six interceptions in any one season. He made nine Pro Bowls and his 79 picks were a record at the time of his retirement.
Easily the greatest offensive lineman in the New York Giants history, Rosey Brown led the way for many great offensive players, including Charlie Conerly, Y.A. Tittle, and Frank Gifford.
A center piece on the 1956 championship and a member of the Giants coaching staff/scouting for many years after his retirement, his career on and off the field is something to marvel at.
He made nine Pro Bowls and was named the 56th best player on the The Sporting News' top 100 list. Brown was not necessarily the first great athlete to play offensive line, but he may have been the first most gifted athlete at his size. He was very quick with his feet and it was impossible to get around him, using those quick feet with his long arms to keep guys in front of him.
This is why many consider him to be the greatest pass blocker of his era. Charlie Conerly owes a lot of his success to the protection he received from Brown.
Brown is one of those guys that could have made it in any time period, and I truly believe that
This isn't even close. Anyone who doesn't have Lawrence Taylor as the greatest player in Giants history is kidding themselves.
Not only that, but he is arguably the greatest defender and player to ever play the game. He is one of only two defensive players that have won the AP NFL MVP award, won Defensive Player of the year three times, made 10 Pro Bowls, 10 All Pro selections, and won two Super Bowls with the Giants.
For a team most known for their defensive prowess, L.T. set the bar higher than anyone had before and no one has come even close to reaching that height since.
The 3-4 defense was created for him specifically so he could showcase his abilities and tenacity. Not only could he defend the pass and run with the best of them, but he was unbelievable at rushing the passer. He was truly one of those players that just couldn't be stopped.
To say offensive coordinators had nightmares on Saturday nights is an understatement.