My love affair with the New York Giants is not a lifelong one. Unlike the graying Jets fans who can trace their addiction to New York's "other team" back to the days of Broadway Joe and the guarantee, my adoration for the Giants is a mere two decades old. And I had to leave New York to appreciate what had been under my nose all along.
In 1986 I left home for the first time to attend college in Washington DC. Geographically, it's not a far distance at all...a mere 220 miles or so door to door. And on the surface the two cities share many similarities in terms of people and cultural interest.
But in terms of sports culture... the difference couldn't have been starker.
You see New Yorkers are blessed by God with a multitude of semi-successful sports teams to choose from and root for. Whether it be the Knicks, Yankees, Mets, Jets or Giants or Rangers, to be a New Yorker sports fan means to have a variety of riches to select from. As a result no one particular fan base is particularly overbearing.
Indeed, each group in a way nullifies the other, so there's something of a harmonious co-existence in play.
In Washington D.C. there's no such animal. Not that I didn't eventually grow to love my adopted home, but with the slim pickings of the Washington Wizards (then the politically incorrectly named Washington Bullets) and the across the state-line Baltimore Orioles, the Redskins were the only real game in town. And boy did you know it.
I can't count the number of times I heard "Hail to the Chief" during my four years in Washington DC. And I don't just mean on game day. I mean endlessly. Sometimes the tune haunts my dreams. The scarlet red...the endless media coverage...it permeated every facet of the city.
And although I was only a marginal Giants fan when I left home, the white hot focus on the Redskins just made me miss New York that much more.
So it was with a great measure of glee and delight that I got to celebrate my freshman year watching the Giants, coached by Bill Parcells and led by Phil Simms who passed for 268 yards and three touchdowns, crush John Elway and the Denver Broncos 39-20 in Super Bowl XXI.
Simms might not have Hall of Fame numbers, but he'll always have a special place in my personal hall of fame for making a kid away at college feel a little closer to home.
Of course, to my horror, the Redskins won the Super Bowl the following year. But that's another story for another day.