XXI XXV XLII
NEW YORK GIANTS FOOTBALL
A Celebration for the Ages
I week ago today, the Giants won their fourth Super Bowl and the eighth NFL Championship overall of this storied franchise's history. Each of the four Super Bowls they've won in my lifetime are separately special to me for very different reasons. And in truth, I can not rank them. No one game stands out as my favorite. All four bring to mind very different memories and trigger different emotional responses from me.
The 1986 season will always be singularly special to me for it was the first. I turned twenty years old shortly after Super Bowl XXI. So it was the cap stone in a life spent as a young boy and teenager rooting for the Giants. Our time had finally come. And it was glorious. The fact that we had to beat the 49ers in order to get to Pasadena was in itself special to me. The Giants/49ers rivalry is forever branded into my mind. Big Blue dominated that season like no Giants team before them in my lifetime, and maybe like no other Giants team since. Don Criqui called that game, and his voice, like no other to call a Giants' Super Bowl, still resonates loud and clear with me till this day. And I can still see "Mark Bavaro genuflecting in prayer."
Super Bowl XXV was the culmination of an era and a swan song for many of my most favorite Giants Greats. I was a young man with a one month old son now. The NFC Championship Game in San Francisco still goes down as one of the hardest hitting contests I've ever watched. Even today, I still have a hard time not ranking that game as one of the most gut-wrenching Giants' wins ever. Then there was something about a juggernaut named the Buffalo Bills. The Giants didn't dominate like they did in 1986 albeit it they were 13-3 that season. But as was their custom, they were the dominant defense in Football. And looking back, Super Bowl XXV was the start of a recipe that still works for the Giants today. The experts said the Giants weren't supposed to be able to hang around with Buffalo. They predicted the end of the Giants that night in Tampa Bay. Instead, Super Bowl XXV validated their greatness. They weren't a one and done. And that made it special.
By the 2007 season, my son was seventeen and a full blown Giants fan. So now it was about us and not just me anymore. After waiting sixteen years since the last time the Giants won a Super Bowl, you might say both of us were riding the same magic carpet ride together. For him, it was his first as a fan. For me, just the first in a long time. But on a personal note, this was a wholly different experience than my two previous Super Bowl runs because of the father factor. Now we start talking about life, and experiences, and feelings that last a lifetime for other reasons that include Football and the Giants and myself. And yeah, it makes you think of things in generational terms, and about things like succession; as in Wellington Mara's passing, and with him, a time I rooted for the Giants as a younger man. My son was only eleven when he passed. But today he understands the magnitude of The Duke and that without him and his father before him, there probably is no NFL like we know it today. And in that scenario, all these lifetime memories would cease to be.
I gather my son will look back on these times one day in his future when he takes a turn at guiding a young Giants fan in the ways of the Mara Family like I did with him. And when John Mara stands alone as the Patriarch of this organization, he'll say, "yeah - I remember when his mom; Ann Mara; was still around, and your grandpa got her attention at the Super Bowl XLII Parade. You should have seen him. He was so happy." For now thankfully, me and Big Blue's Matriarch are alive and well, and judging by the way she poked around Terry Bradshaw, she has a lot of years left in her Football career as the undisputed Queen in The Land of Giants.
Last Tuesday, my son and I went to our second Super Bowl Parade together when I myself had never been to one before. If you remember back in 1986, Mayor Ed Koch wouldn't foot the bill for a parade. Then during Super Bowl XXV, America's troops were being sent into harm's way overseas, making a parade inappropriate for the time.
To me, Super Bowl XLVI was history repeating itself. Too many similarities existed between this era and the era between twenty-one and twenty-six years ago for me to ignore. And as my son will vouch for his pop, four years ago I told him we were inside a five year window to win another trophy. As such, this Super Bowl took on the aura of tradition for both of us. What we did last time we repeated this time. And how it played out a quarter century ago for me, things similarly played out for him in this new era of Giants Football. And I guess to him, Tom Coughlin is what Bill Parcells was to me. He tells me as much. And what my son holds over me today is that in 2006, I wavered on Tom Coughlin. I did. Not my son though. Not for a second. And I'm proud of him. Because I would have probably knocked someone unconscious if they ever tried to fire Bill Parcells when I was his age.
Giants' General Manager, Jerry Reese
During this most recent parade, I managed to get the attention of General Manager Jerry Reese when his float passed by. Like I said, last time it was Ann Mara. And this time I managed to tell Jerry thank you for doing a great job. He spotted me and replied with a thank you and a nod of acknowledgement. The guy standing behind me was saying - Hey! He was talking to you. I saw it! I saw it! So there; there's my Super Bowl XLVI parade story. That, and getting my arm and hands in the newspaper the next day are enough for me to live with. I'm just happy as all hell me and my son are Giant Fans. There's no finer First Family in the city and there's no other team that has made me happier over the course of my life.