The New York Giants and New York Jets make up the NFL scene in the Big Apple. They also have some of the loudest mouth in the entire country, and when you examine the context of the situation, it certainly makes sense.
Nothing quite says "New York" like a resident—holding a copy of 'The Daily News' in one hand and a hot dog from a street vendor in the other—screaming it at you in a voice that sounds vaguely like a cross between an Italian mafioso and Larry David from Curb Your Enthusiasm. For as far back as our rich history in our country goes, loud New Yorkers are as distinctly American as apple pie and Elvis Presley.
It's just something in the New Yorker's identity: opinionated, uppity, in your face and often deeply attached to their sports teams. I should know. I was raised by one of the most devoted, and in turn loudest, Mets fans that New York ever had the fortune of getting to know. You can take the man out of New York, but you can't take New York out of the man.
My father's transfer from the city to Los Angeles was smooth enough because the weather was nicer and the living was easier. As far as sports goes, however, his heart still lies in New York, and he represents a bigger picture. In New York, sports can just be a louder experience. From the "Bleacher Creatures" at the Yankees games to Spike Lee at a Knicks game, fans know how to make noise for their teams. With football coming around the bend, it's time to take a look at the eight loudest mouths and most prominent talking figures in the New York football scene.
Before he even played a game in the NFL, Taylor stirred up a storm as he and his agent, Mike Trope, demanded $250,000 dollars a season, significantly more than any other rookie had made to that point. Several Giants players, who knew their team had the second pick in the draft, had threatened to walk out from the team if Taylor was paid that much as an unproven rookie. Hadn't even played a game for New York yet, and he was already generating a buzz. What a perfect fit.
Bill Parcells, defensive coordinator at the time, had begun to develop a love-hate relationship with young Taylor, who was once infamously quoted as saying, "You either cut me or trade me, but get the **** of my back." Those familiar with Parcells and the New York football scene would not be surprised to learn that that sort of sentiment was actually impressive to the coach, who chose to keep the walking legend around.
Taylor is perhaps most famous for his deadly sack on quarterback Joe Theismann, in which Taylor is seen screaming for paramedics after accidentally compounding a career-ending fracture in the quarterback's leg.
As his career progressed, he became a fan favorite in New York but his fame did not come without a certain sense of controversy. In his career, he admitted to using cocaine as early as his second year in the league, was suspended multiple times for failing drug tests, and as recently as last year, pled guilty to sleeping with a 16-year-old girl. His wild ways made way to the Giants nickname "Big Blue Wrecking Crew", and has been quoted as saying, "For me, crazy as it seems, there is a real relationship between wild, reckless abandon off the field and being that way on the field". Could those types of antics survived anywhere else but in New York City?
How could you have a list of the loudest mouths in New York football without including the likes of someone that once promised a Super Bowl victory for the New York Jets? In the late 60s and early 70s, Joe Namath earned the nickname "Broadway Joe" for more reasons than just that he was playing football in New York and that his name was Joe. When Namath played football, he was larger than life and he carried a persona even bigger than that.
Following the 1968 season, Namath opened a bar in the Upper East Side of New York City called "Bachelors III". Then NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle had ordered Namath to sell his share of the bar to protect the league's image, and in response, Namath had decided to retire from the league instead. Because he brought in so much revenue to the league, they were forced to negotiate with the star and he came back for the next season.
Following his career, he continued his life as an actor and has been featured on The Simpsons, The Brady Bunch and The Tonight Show and appeared in many commercials, including Noxzema shaving cream, during his career. When Namath played in New York, he owned the city and played off of his fame.
What sets "Broadway Joe" aside, however, was his "Guarantee". In 1969, his team would face Don Shula's Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III. The Baltimore Colts had been touted as the best team in football history, and after being heckled by Colts fans in Miami, Namath responded by saying "We're gonna win. I guarantee it." At the time, it was thought that an AFL team (like Namath's Jets) would be unable to compete with an NFL team in a Super Bowl game. Gambling lines of the game had the Colts favored to win by 18 points. In the game, Namath threw for 17-of-28 passes and 206 yards and won the game 16-7. Only in New York could an 18 point underdog promise a victory...and capitalize on it.
The Big Tuna, one of the most famous and coveted football coaches in NFL history, is a native of New Jersey and came through New York fame after winning two Super Bowl rings as head coach of the Giants as well as making an appearance in the Super Bowl as head coach of the Jets. Parcells fits the loud mouth mold in a more unique way, because while he hasn't come out and challenged officials or loudly updated his Twitter feed, his life fits the mold of one that represents a reality show.
Parcells, it seems, always looks to be in the New York headlines for one thing or another. In his tenure as a professional in the NFL, he has retired four different times (each drawing more attention to himself than the last), and has gone back on an agreed offer (in 1992, he had a handshake agreement to coach Tampa Bay but he backed out at the last minute). He has coached two of the most prolific loud mouths in the history of the game (Lawrence Taylor, Terrell Owens), and has the reputation of having a big enough personality to match that type of player.
In New York, he first gained fame by benching Phil Simms in 1983, only to end up going 3-12-1 in that season. While an unorthodox and eventually regrettable decision, his notoriety began to grow within the organization and by 1986, the Giants had won their first of two Super Bowl's in his tenure. Parcells would become the first NFL coach to get Gatorade poured on him after the victory.
In 1990, the Giants would win the Super Bowl once again but Parcells would retire due to health issues. The Big Tuna eventually came out of retirement to coach the Patriots, but not without causing controversy in New York first. After a few years within the organization, Parcells fought with owner Robert Kraft and eventually left the team after not having enough say in draft day decisions. Parcells had a contract that did not allow him to coach anywhere else, but the Jets wished to sign him anyway. Their quick fix? Hire Bill Belichick and bring Parcells along under an advisory role.
As of late, Parcells had made headlines with a brief position as the Vice President of Football Organizations over with the Miami Dolphins. Parcells always knows how to make their way into those New York headlines.
Tiki Barber was drafted in the second round of the 1997 NFL Draft, and won the Giants starting job in 1998. Following multiple injury-riddled and mediocre seasons, the Giants made the 2001 Super Bowl with Barber as their starting back. Even though the Giants lost the game, Barber received a six-year contract in the offseason. Barber was quoted as saying that he was "the happiest man in New York".
In 2002, Barber criticized Defensive Player of the Year and teammate Michael Strahan for his contract negotiations, saying that "Michael is not thinking about the team; Michael is thinking about himself". As Barber's role grew, the team continued a disappointing streak and suffered through poor seasons. Barber began to start a Super Bowl Campaign mentality in the locker room, and in 2005 the Giants won their division only to lose in the playoffs. Following the game, Barber told the media that he thought the Giants were out-coached. After finishing fourth in MVP voting in 2005, Barber signed an extension until 2008.
His final season saw him rush for the most yards of his career, and he controversially filed for retirement in February of 2007. Barber was quoted as saying, "I used to think my career was defined by not winning a Super Bowl. But I think looking back on my career, they'll see someone who was a competitor, someone who always played hard and never gave up." Barber retired at the end of the season. The Football Gods, however, sided with the New York football fans and the next year, the Giants won the Super Bowl.
After his retirement, Barber entered broadcasting and began an altogether too-open criticism of former coaches and teammates. Barber, now in the public eye, called Eli Manning's pregame motivational speech "almost comical", told ESPN that "Coughlin pushed him in the direction of television" due to his unrelenting style, and criticized team chemistry. Now that Barber has received negative reception from Giants Stadium fans, he has lost a little bit of public attention until recently when Barber had decided to come out of retirement. No team has yet to sign the former Giants loud mouth.
Mark Gastineau is a New York loud mouth that played his entire career for the New York Jets. He was a defensive end, and one of the most famed defensive players of his generation. His play helped form what became known as the "New York Sack Exchange" (I think that the nickname is imperative to the loudmouth personality), and recorded over 100 sacks in his career.
His most famous season was in 1983. Before the season even began, Gastineau was arrested and charged with assault at a disco bar in New York City. After each of his league-leading sacks, he performed his Sack Dance that was soon banned from the NFL for "unsportsmanlike conduct". This ruling came after a Rams offensive linemen got in a fight with Gastineau following one of Gastineau's sack dances. He was named Defensive Player of the Year and Pro Bowl MVP.
In 1986, Gastineau was featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated with fellow New York loudmouth Lawrence Taylor. In 1987, Gastineau continued his loudmouth ways as he was the first and only Jets player to immediately cross the picket line in the NFL strike. His teammate at the time, Dave Jennings, was quoted as saying, "We expected it of Mark. He's a very selfish individual." When the season finally began, Gastineau was also in the midst of a very public relationship with a model.
During one preseason scrimmage game, she was driven onto the field in a limousine and publicly hugged and kissed the Jets defensive end on the field after the game. Soon after their engagement, Gastineau announced his retirement and claimed his fiance had developed cancer. Gastineau had later admitted he had retired to avoid failing another drug test for anabolic steroids.
In 1991, Gastineau actually began a boxing career and actually posted a successful record of 15-2. Gastineau absolutely fits the mold of a loudmouth that could only have lived his type of career in the New York atmosphere.
When it comes to loudmouths, we move from one New York defensive end to another. Strahan, of course, played years later and for the Giants organization but when it comes to an athlete's ability to talk, Strahan could not be more in the public eye.
In his retirement from football, he has become an analyst for Fox NFL Sunday, hosts Pros vs. Joes, and starred and produced in a sitcom called Brothers. He has appeared in numerous Subway commercials alongside Jared and former Giants teammate Justin Tuck, and is never one to be away from the public eye. He has also appeared on The Best Damn Sports Show Period, and has been in commercials for Pizza Hut, Right Guard, and Dr. Pepper as well as television shows like Chuck, a co-host on Regis and Kelly, and Mad Money.
Strahan is a larger than life personality, and larger than life individual. At 6'5" and 275 pounds, Strahan also brings a giant diastema smile with him any time that he speaks. Strahan's retirement is the perfect example of the effect that New York can have on a player's popularity and their commercial success. Much of the reason for Strahan's marketability comes from his access to the New York media, and the fact that so many Giants fans and New Yorkers already knew him from his playing days.
This award goes to the man that inspired this article, Pat Hanlon. Hanlon is the Vice President of Communications for the New York Giants. While he might not be the biggest loud mouth in the football scene in terms of prominence, in regards to relevance Hanlon is sweeping the field.
Hanlon has recently garnered a boatload of media attention due to comments he made via Twitter. Those that follow the Giants executive on Twitter know that he is prone to making fun of Rex Ryan and the New York Jets, but he hadn't gained as much attention with those tweets as he had with those he made last week. He responded to posts from his followers, asking one "can you say we're worse, knucklehead?" and another by saying, "Thanks Lombardi, cause I know you know" when the fan questioned the progress the Giants had made this offseason.
When asked if it was time for the Giants to rebuild, Hanlon said, "rebuild my a**, I got your rebuild!" Not only was Hanlon incredibly defensive and bitterly sarcastic and wry, but he represented New York media with his loudmouth comments via Twitter.
Is there a single bigger personality in the entire world than that of Rex Ryan? No one, and I repeat, no one, embodies the spirit of the loud mouth New York football scene quite like New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan has somehow found his way into doing. Ryan is a master of the baffling comment; he knows how to draw up a storm in the media and reel in as much attention as any NFL team possibly can.
Perhaps growing even famous due to his compelling personality on Hard Knocks, Ryan has a mission. He is hoping to make the Jets the most relevant team in the NFL, and will do anything he can to make sure it happens. In the past few years, Buddy Ryan's son has brought in names like LaDainian Tomlinson, Antonio Cromartie, Plaxico Burress, Santonio Holmes and Jason Taylor.
Thankfully for Ryan, he has backed up his big talk with much success and has made two consecutive AFC Championships. Ryan is known for his obsessive foul language, lack of fear to use an obscene gesture, heavy weight, and an in-your-face personality. He has been the perfect fit for the Jets so far, and has made them an interesting team to watch in the past few seasons since he took over for Eric Mangini. His confidence has put him over the edge, and his New York persona has made him a hit. When Ryan delivers his gems of his quotes, the rest of the league knows that the Jets exist and aren't exactly going anywhere.