2008-02-08 / Sports

Giants Ride Through The Grandest of All 'Canyons'

By John J. Buro

New York Giants fans gather before the parade starts. Photo by Nicholas Briano. New York Giants fans gather before the parade starts. Photo by Nicholas Briano. At 11:00, on a damp Tuesday morning, the city officially welcomed the New York Giants back home.

But, make no mistake about it. Ever since the Giants' buses pitted at the Meadowlands the night before, they have - both individually and collectively- been hailed at every turn.

It wasn't that New York won Super Bowl XLII against just another AFC team. Less than 48 hours ago, they had played the previously-unbeaten New England Patriots, considered by many to be the best in NFLhistory.

New England had won each of their 16 regular-season games and, in fact, had beaten New York, 38-35, at the Meadowlands in Week 17 to clinch that mark of perfection.

With two more victories in the postseason, the Patriots ran their overall record to a sterling 18-0. That fact was not lost among the million-and-a-half Giants fans, several of whom proudly waved 18-1 placards as the numerous floats crawled along Broadway, or what is simply known as 'The Canyon of Heroes'. "This was amazing," said Justin Tuck, a force on the defensive line. "Coming back to the city, and receiving the welcome that we did - having millions of people chanting our names- was absolutely wonderful."

"We could really see the hatred that New York fans have for Boston. The parade, going to City Hall, and getting the key to the city is stuff that someone can only dream about."

There was no parade for them in either 1987 or 1991, following their respective wins in Super Bowls XXI or XXV.

With regard to the first victory, then-Mayor Ed Koch refused to honor Bill Parcells' team, snapping, "If they want one, let them parade in front of the oil drums in Moonachie [which is adjacent to the Meadowlands Sports Complex]." The 2000 Yankees were the last championship team to ride through these streets.

The city's 177th ticker-tape parade was also its most improbable.

Following a 0-2 start in which the defense allowed a whopping 80 points and 763 yards, New York aced the final 11 games away the East Rutherford, NJ stadium which bears their name.

The first of those 11 road victories occurred at FedEx Field in Landover, MD on September 23. Many people attribute this game, against the Washington Redskins, as the one which turned their season around.

On that day, the Giants trailed the Redskins, 17-3, at intermission. However, they would forge a 24-17 lead on three second-half touchdowns, and a goal-line stand in the game's final minute validated their comeback.

"[Those plays] really propelled us," stated Tuck, whose repeated entries into New England's backfield resulted in six tackles, two sacks and a forced fumble. "That stand was a signature event. If we didn't stop them, we might've been 0- 3. Obviously, that was a significant part of our season." New York was not given much of chance to win their biggest game in seventeen years, despite of that earlier three-point loss to the Patriots. Las Vegas oddsmakers had instilled the AFC champions as two-touchdown favorites. In an arbitrary ESPN poll, approximately 65% of the country agreed that New England would win. Even many of the local beat writers had bailed on them. This is most likely why so many people waited hours for a mere glimpse of their heroes. A17-14 score may not sound like much, but the last time so many people crowded the streets of lower Manhattan at once, the entire city was under siege.

"The Giants," said Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a Boston native, noting the team's overall 14-6 record, "may not be perfect. But, then again, no one is."

As both the Democratic and Republican primaries were already front-page news, February 5 had long been dubbed 'Super Tuesday'. However, this day meant something more to these fans.

And, if the required minimum age of 35 for a presidential candidate could somehow be waived for a day, Eli Manning -New York's 27 year-old quarterback and latest Super Bowl MVP- might very well have altered the voting.

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