The 2007 New York Football Giants as my Grandpa still refers to them 50 years now after his beloved Baseball Giants left, will be looked back as a team that not only won the title but seemed to revitalize, and grant the sweetest taste of redemption for fans, players and front office members. Starting college in Arizona before the season I hoped to be just as big of a fan as before I left. For every 1:00 game I would wake up at 9:30 and go to the local sports bar here and watch my beloved Giants play a 10:00 game. As I continue to grow up I have realized how this team has been not only something I was brought up on by my family but also it is a huge part of my culture. Going into the season this team had glaring holes: such as who would step up at running back? I realized that this team would be criticized and it would be a rough one. Adversity though it a way of uniting players and the coaches a like to show that it is US against the EVERYONE.
This team throughout the season had leaders, it had vocal leaders and it also had many great team players. Reuben Droughns, a tailback who just 2 years ago was coming off back to back 1200 yard campaigns was allocated to the 4th string guy but he had no problem with being a core player on special teams. Team players are able to get it done: a more glorified team player was Justin Tuck who from game to game would line up at Nose Tackle, a 3- Technique Defensive Tackle and also as a Defensive End. This team did WHATEVER Head Coach Coughlin, Coach Spangnuolo, Coach Gilbride and the rest of the staff said. The Giants should be looked at as not only a role model in sports but also a role model to everyday people. Whenever I hear Antonio Pierce’s name the only thing I can think about is one word: LEADERSHIP. After opening the season with 2 loses and Coach Coughlin facing more scrutiny than any other figure in New York, Pierce comes out with the air horn and while some in the media felt it offensive he realized that this problem will be handled in house and that the media would have no part in what was going on in the locker room. In the 4th quarter of the week 3 game the Giants defense stepped up and proved that this team was a Unit working as one and stopped the bitter rival Skins on 4 consecutive plays from the Giants 1. That game right their proved the resiliency of New York because many teams would have just folded but not this one. “ Every time you put on this uniform you put it on for each other.” Michael Strahan says that before every game and this time it was true. I also realized they are putting it on with 83 years of history representing New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and now Arizona. My Grandpa had seen them play at the Polo Grounds, my Dad had seen them at Yankee Stadium and I have seen them in New Jersey. That lead to a 6 game win streak in which Eli Manning and sack masters Umeryoira, Strahan, Tuck, Kiuwanuka were on top of the world.. The next week left me with a bitter, bitter taste because I felt while Eli Manning is a good quarterback, Tony Romo is just that much better and for the next 8-10 years, twice a year I THOUGHT I would have to live with that. The Vikings game that followed really made me mad because Manning just looked like he had never played a game of football before when the Vikings intercepted him 4 times and watching the Defense let Tavaris Jackson look like Tom Brady. That was the Sunday after Thanksgiving and I was back in New York with family and the flight back to Arizona all I could think about is how are we going to beat the Bears at home the next weekend? Some people do not realize that this used to be a premier NFL rivalry with them meeting multiple times in NFL title games in the 1920’s, 1930’s, 1940’s, 50’s. This Bears game really stands out to me as a season defining game. Manning continued his poor play to start the game and the defense looked very porous. But in the 4th quarter Manning stepped up and was able to put his torrid first 3 quarters behind. Leading the Giants on 2 touchdown drives in the final 7 Minutes to win 20-16. After the game I ran around screaming to my neighbors who were Giants doubters, Bears fans “ Ya’ll can’t tell Eli Manning NOTHING.” The rest of the regular season went by as a blur, until December 29th where I was in New York for the Christmas and New Years holiday and got a ticket and went with my cousin to watch a historic game. This game proved that Manning and his teammates when up for a challenge had the balls to play with any team.
The first two rounds of the playoffs went by so quickly and I just had an outstanding amount of confidence in this team. Despite a sluggish first quarter in Tampa, I was reminded that the last team to have negative total yardage for a quarter in a playoff game went on to win the Super Bowl: The Ravens. In the Cowboys game though one of my claims had been reversed and Eli Manning had out-played Tony Romo. This defense did not break but it was bent by some of the long Cowboy drives. Finally though in the 4th quarter pass rush got to Romo. The next week though it just seemed like it must be Brett Favre’s time. It was a perfect set up: the mystique of Lambeau field, all of Brett Favre’s followers, the Packers having owned the Giants in NFL title games of the past including winning the previous 2 in 1961 and 1962, something had to give. That game proved to myself that this team is a special one. The adversity of playing in the 3rd coldest game in NFL history and seeing Tom Coughlin’s face completely red. This team proved the adversity and toughness I knew they had all along. Plaxico Burress showed how tough he was in roughing up a Pro Bowl Corner and somehow making cuts that someone with an ankle injury shouldn’t be making. When Tynes missed the first two field goals in regulation and then came back and nails the longest field goal by a visiting team in Packer playoff history it just showed how mentally tough this team is. Corey Webster was a guy who had been in the coaches’ dog house but when called upon he stepped up with a huge Overtime interception. This game truly made me appreciate the Giants, when they hit the winning field goal I had tears of joy. Sure they had made it in 2000 but that was when they were the #1 seed. This time they were the #5 seed and I realized that this team has been a part of my family, myself and my whole culture of growing up a New Yorker despite now living in Arizona. In the weeks wait for the Super Bowl I listened to WFAN, watched NFL Network and ESPN for countless hours to try and get any insight I could on how to end the Patriots 18 game winning streak. The night before the Super Bowl I went to sleep at 4 am and woke up at 8 am. All I thought about was the great upsets in sports and David vs. Goliath. I was also very disappointed to not be at the game because it was being played 110 miles Northwest of where I live in Arizona. This game culminated how rookies and veterans were able to step up. I realized how well Jerry Reese did at the draft. I looked at the Offense and saw the Kevin Boss, Steve Smith and Ahmad Bradshaw would all play crucial roles. I saw on defense that Michael Johnson and Jay Alford would be backups who would get playing time. I saw on special teams that Zach Deossie would be handling the long snaps on punts, his father Steve won a Super Bowl with the Giants would be playing a key role. Rookies on other teams are usually relegated to the practice squad, but not here it was an injection of youth going for these Giants. Before the Super Bowl the fact that they all wore all black really showed they were a team and not just individual super stars. The whole game I was a mental reck, I watched the game with two other friends, 1 originally from New York like myself who was a Jet fan so these were his 2 most hated teams, and a Lion fan who envied the opportunity the Giants had. Throughout the game I think about the Sports Illustrated cover saying “ Can the Giants get to Brady?”. They sacked him 5 times and knocked him down on 26 of the 47 pass attempts. Before the game Strahan claimed that there Offensive Line was “the best ever, and this Quarterback can’t be hit.” With a little bit a luck and the emergence of career special teams player David Tyree the Giants had granted 3 generation of my family what they wanted: a Super Bowl win. The catch by David Tyree and play by Eli Manning just summed up how this team would do anything to win. Even two months after I still remember jumping up and saying “dual possession, DUAL POSSESSION, MOVE THOSE CHAINS. What went under the scenes was Steve Smith dragging Harrision off of Tyree. Then Steve Smith made a play on 3rd and 11 that a rookie has NO business making, making sure when he caught the ball he stayed in bounds long enough to get the first down and then ducking out of bounce. Then Bob Papa’s voice “Manning throws a fade to Burress, TOUCHDOWN!! We had done it all we needed was 35 more seconds. Before the last Patriots play FOX showed the Giants championship hat and I said “Put it away” l didn’t want to jinx the outcome The GIANTS HAD DONE IT!! This whole game, let alone the whole season I was so sick of hearing Troy Aikman bash Eli Manning. I just couldn’t hold myself back and I declared this the greatest moment in my life. Sure I had seen Yankees championships a team who I adore but besides the one in 1996 they were expected to win. This team just exemplified everything I love about sports in the teamwork and perseverance they showed. It was a roller coaster ride and somehow they pulled off one of the greatest upsets in sports. Every morning I wake up to the picture of Manning holding the Lombardi trophy and I just realize how he shut his critics up and just played the best he could. This championship is for the true fans, it’s not for the people who doubted this coach, this quarterback or this team. This Super Bowl fulfilled destiny and fait, before I left for Arizona in August my Dad and Grandpa both said that this team will follow you there. They found there place in the Valley of the Sun as champions. In the post-game show Plaxico Burress getting interviewed by Rich Eisen and saying “WE DA BESS”! just showed how Burress had matured from a rookie in Pittsburgh to a leader with these Giants. These Giants will go down with LT and Phil Simms and Bavarro, Carson, Banks.