Wave Staffers Take In Giant's Manhattan Parade
The Canyon of Heroes in lower Manhattan is a compelling place for a victory parade. There is lots of history in that small piece of real estate - heroes of aviation, space, sports and politics have ridden triumphantly through the canyon, and last week it was the New York Giants' turn.
By all reports, dozens of locals including bosses, workers and school students took the day off to watch the festivities. Early on Tuesday morning, cars were lined up on Rockaway Beach Boulevard, in a convoy made up of men, women and children wearing Giants' Blue.
Two Wave staffers, Sports Editor Elio Velez and Staff Reporter Nicholas Briano, were sent into the teeming mob to cover the story for the Wave - and the fact that both happen to be Giants fans didn't hurt much. Their reports from the canyon follow.
While standing on the corner of Fulton Street and Broadway on Tuesday morning, watching the New York Giants cheered on by a million of their fans, I finally found the time to think about the whirlwind of events. I've never believed that sports could be a metaphor for life but last Sunday's Super Bowl came close to changing my mind.
The New York Giants Super Bowl victory over the previously undefeated New England Patriots is akin to the underdog boxer dishing out the punishment and defeating the heavyweight champion. The New York Giants' performance in the playoffs and their 17-14 victory over the Patriots can best describe the underdog who perseveres despite adversity and overcomes
the obstacles placed in front of them.
It was as proud a moment that I have ever had watching the New York Giants. I remembered the 1991 Super Bowl and their victory over the Bills being labeled then as an upset.
And while their victory last Sunday can also be considered an upset, the way the Giants played showed that they weren't underdogs.
The Giants had many issues to work out this season just to get to Glendale, Arizona. Their opponent New England had already ironed out every concern from Randy Moss' state of mind to an old defense as they came in with an 18-0 record.
Pundits dismissed the Giants time and time again. Predictions of a Patriots blowout were on most lips from the Las Vegas bettors to Jimmy Johnson and Howie Long of the NFLon Fox.
The Giants were described like raw meat, unable to get away from the large teeth of the Patriots. But these New York Giants weren't afraid of their opponent. They didn't fear the historical precedent that they would have been set.
The underdog wasn't afraid. The Giants took on the Patriots with aggression and the utmost confidence.
Head coach Tom Coughlin and defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo came up with the perfect game plan.
They would batter and harass QB Tom Brady with different blitzes and stunts throughout the game that would punish the Patriots' star.
And the rest of his teammates picked up that sentiment. Here it was in the third quarter and the Patriots only up 7-3, the Giants were ruining pundits' predictions of a blowout victory.
And it may have been at that moment, when Eli Manning found Kevin Boss for a 46-yard completion in the fourth quarter, that I started to believe the miracle could happen.
Eli Manning didn't just grow up and become a fine quarterback during this playoff run. He was already a smart and capable player.
For some quarterbacks, it can take a year or as much as five years to grow to become a good NFLplayer. Hall of Fame quarterback Terry Bradshaw didn't get comfortable in the role until his fifth season at the helm of the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Before January of 1974, the Steelers had advanced to the playoffs in two straight seasons. Manning was similar to Bradshaw in that both quarterbacks couldn't lead their team to victory in those games.
Now I can see why Terry Bradshaw picked the Giants to win the game against the Packers and the Patriots.
Bradshaw knows what it takes to play quarterback. All the criticism that Manning has received was quite similar to what Bradshaw went through when he was the first overall pick in the 1969 NFLDraft.
By the end of the Steelers 16-6 victory over the Minnesota Vikings in Super Bowl XIV, Bradshaw had finally led his team to the big win.
I'm not alluding to the fact that Eli Manning will become Terry Bradshaw and win three more Super Bowls.
What I believe is that Manning's confidence gave the Giants continual hope that they would score in their last touchdown drive.
And it gave Giants' fans a lot more hope, especially this one, that maybe just one more time in the future this football team could be parading down the Canyon of Heroes.
It has been 17 years since the city of New York was able to celebrate a professional football championship. This one is unique though. Usually a team is expected to do well and win, and the Super Bowl comes as no shock, even though it still feels great. But this run by the Giants is one that can be talked about consistently for the months to come, simply because it wasn't supposed to happen.
The Giants were 10-6 and Eli Manning was playing horribly. What happened? Who knows, but whatever it was, it worked. Many Giant fans weren't all that surprised to see them beat Tampa Bay. However, heading into Dallas, I was sure the season would end, and we would be talking about Manning finally getting a playoff win and building on his previous two post season losses. But that is when the magical season really began. They were supposed to lose in Dallas. They were supposed to lose in Green Bay and somehow they kept winning.
However, something strange happened each and every week as they took their devoted fans to the edge. Any real Giants fan knew it would have been typical for Tynes to miss that third field goal and break everyone's hearts in Green Bay. But oddly enough that didn't happen. It seemed like everything went the Giants way. It is unreal.
Yet again, in the Super Bowl they made several mental mistakes and nearly turned the ball over several times. Normally against a team like the Patriots, one major mistake or turnover and anything other than a near perfect game wouldn't get the job done.
I have been a regular to numerous games a season at Giants Stadium since I was a child. I have to say though this one feels great, improbable, and completely surreal.
Since January, 1991 when Matt Bahr drained five field goals and Leonard Marshall took out Joe Montana in San Francisco, and Scott Norwood missed wide right in Super Bowl XXV, most Giants'fans have been plagued with the pain of remembering the awful wild card loss to Minnesota in 1997. And, when they blew that lead in San Francisco in 2003, and recently when they were embarrassed at home by Carolina on wild card weekend.
All the painful losses are a distant memory now because when the Giants showed the heart they did this January, it made me realize that there are still players and teams in the NFLthat care about the team concept and winning. Sure they like the money, but they proved that it doesn't always have to be about that.
Maybe it wasn't what they gained in 2007, but rather what they lost. It's amazing what you can get accomplished as a team when you subtract the egotistical maniacs from the equation. Tiki Barber ruined this team, despite all the greatness he accomplished; his ego destroyed the locker room.
Then Shockey goes down, and they lose another ego. And then emerge rookies Ahmad Bradshaw, Kevin Boss and Steve Smith, all of whom played a major role in the Giants late season success and made new General Manager Jerry Reese look like a genius. But is their success a coincidence? I would like to think not.
With that said, I still can't believe what the Giants have done. At the start of the season every fan was convinced that this wouldn't be the year. Maybe we would make the playoffs, but surely not the Super Bowl. And once they got there, I still didn't think they would beat the Patriots. I continued to say to myself that it was just the Giants luck to finally get back to the Super Bowl and then get stuck playing a team that is 18-0! But they not only shocked every Giants fan in existence, they shocked the entire sports world. It is no secret that their victory will be remembered forever as one of the greatest upsets of all time.
It was a sight to behold as so many people turned out for the parade in Manhattan to honor a team that still belongs to this great city. The Giants may play in New Jersey, but they are still the New York Giants and will be forever.
Many people don't know this, but Giants Stadium is the same distance from Times Square as Yankee Stadium is. So I don't understand what the real big deal is there.
But I give credit to Mayor Bloomberg for paying tribute to a team that has truly touched the emotions of millions of people in the tri-state area, by honoring them the right way, like the heroes they have become.