After taking a look at the list of honorable mention players and reviewing the criteria for this list, let's begin the primary list of 25. Going backwards, we will begin with the 25th greatest player.
No. 25 : Bart Oates—C
Oates was the anchor of the wall of Giants that protected the QB and RB's from 1985 until 1993. He began his career in the USFL , and wasn't signed to play for the Giants until he was 27 years old. He was on the 86' and 90' Super Bowl Championship teams. He was selected to the Pro Bowl three times as a member of the Giants.
During his tenure with the team, he started 125 consecutive games. This was rare then and even more so now. After his Giants career had ended, he had a few successful seasons with the San Francisco 49ers , where he won another Super Bowl and was selected to another Pro Bowl. He never forgot his roots, though. He returned to the New York/New Jersey area after he retired.
He is currently the chairman for the New Jersey Hall of Fame. He holds a doctorate in Law from Seton Hall and has done voice over work for cartoons. He never had the spotlight or the media attention due to his position, but he was a major reason for two Giants titles. Though he never was a highlight provider, he made plenty of big blocks that setup those highlights that we cherish.
No. 24 : Mel Hein— C
Hein was a rock on a rock solid front line from 1931-1945. His 15 seasons as a New York Giants player led to several unique accolades. First, he was and still is the only offensive lineman to win the NFL MVP award. Second, he is one of only five Giants players to achieve such an accomplishment.
Third, he was one of only a very few (11 players total) to have his number (7) retired by the Giants. Fourth, he was elected into the NFL Hall of Fame in 1963. Finally, he was named to the NFL's 75th anniversary All-Time team.
In addition to all of this, he was a two-time champion, in both '34 and '38 for the Giants. The only reason he is not higher on this list is because he is really unknown. He was a force on the early teams. Not many know much about the earliest teams, and that is unfortunate.
No. 23 : Joe Morris—RB
Morris is one of the most memorable running backs in Giants history, despite not having the accolades that others have achieved at that position. He stands 5'7" and has been underestimated from day one. Drafted in the second round, he soon beat out the team's first round draft choice (Butch Woolfork ) for the stating job.
He played that position on the team from 1982 to 1988. During this span, he accumulated 5296 yards rushing and 48 TD's to go along with 884 receiving yards and two TD's , totaling over 6,180 total yards with 50 TD's . He was a two-time Pro Bowl choice and is currently third all-time in rushing yards, attempts, and rushing TD's in Giants history.
He was a key contributor to the 86' championship team. During the championship game, he rushed for 67 yards, had four catches for 20 yards and scored a TD. He still resides in New Jersey with his family, where he was part owner of the New Jersey Red Dogs (Arena Football) with former teammates Carl Banks and Harry Carson.
No. 22 : Rodney Hampton—RB
Hampton was a beast in the Giants back field, an intimidating presence with good speed and elusiveness. He was the Giants first round draft pick in 1990. He was a Pro Bowl selection two times. He was also a member of the 90' Super Bowl team in his rookie year. He played from 1990 to 1997, all eight seasons with the Giants.
In that time he accumulated impressive stats. He had 6897 rushing yards with 49 TD's . He also had 1309 receiving yards with two TD's . These totals helped place him first in his era, though since he has been surpassed and is now second in several categories—career rushing yards, career rushing attempts, and career rushing TD's .
Hampton was an important part of the Giants in the 90's, he was a leader and helped reestablish the Giants as a powerful running team. He still is active in Giants charities, though he remains more private these days.
No. 21 : Kyle Rote—HB /WR
Rote was the Giants No. 1 overall draft pick in the 1951 NFL draft, after a hall of fame college career. As the overall No. 1 pick, Rote did not let the pressure get to him. He was selected to four Pro Bowls and was a vital member of the 1956 championship team.
He played for 11 seasons (1951-1961), all with the Giants. In that span, he amassed 4797 receiving yards with 48 receiving TD's . Though drafted as a running back, he was primarily a receiver and a double threat (rushing and receiving, though he also returned kicks and played some QB too).
He even spent seven seasons playing both sides of the ball. While on defense, he forced eight fumbles, two of which he recovered. After his playing career was over, he turned to broadcasting, and spent several years with NBC. During this time, he also did several commercial spots. Sadly, he died in 2002, but his legacy will live on with many Giants fans from his generation and beyond.
In the next part of this series, we will take a look at the No. 20 to No. 16 players of the all-time greatest Giants players list. Please join me then.