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New York Giants
New York Giants: Winning a City
The New York Giants are an NFL franchise that carved out a niche in The Big Apple and became the city's favorite football team.
The Giants have an 80-year history full of the sport's best players and most significant games, all under one family ownership.
They have had eight NFL championships, four in the pre-Super Bowl era and four since. The Giants have made more championship appearances than any other team, 19.
And their fans have embraced them, making it hard to find tickets to New York Giants games.
The Giants were founded in 1925 by Tim Mara. They were among 20 teams when they joined the five-year-old NFL. They also had to distinguish themselves in a city with three baseball teams, including one by the same name.
So the battle for recognition was a battle for survival, and the team struggled financially for most of their first season. But late in the year, Red Grange and the Chicago Bears came to town, attracting over 73,000 to the Polo Grounds. They were beaten, 19-7 in that game, but the fact that people bought tickets to Giants games was a breakthrough.
Then the Giants won the NFL Championship by declaration in 1927, after an 11-1-1 campaign, and New York fans further embraced their professional football team.
In 1931 the Giants hired Steve Owen as head coach. Owen would guide them for 23 years and establish the Giants’ identity as a pro football power.
With the help of Hall of Fame players Mel Hein, Red Badgro and Tuffy Leemans, Owen and the Giants would win the NFL East division and make it to league title game eight times.
But they won the championship only twice, the most memorable being the 1934 “Sneakers Game” against the previously unbeaten Bears. In the game at the ice-covered Polo Grounds field, the Giants acquired sneakers for better footing and unleashed a 27-point outburst in the final period to win 30-13.
They won the NFL Championship again in 1938, this time over the Green Bay Packers.
Owen coached into the 1950s, keeping the Giants competitive and at times dominant. He stepped down in 1953, after accruing a 150-99-17 record with the team.
Two coaches guided the Giants over the next 15 seasons when they won six Eastern Conference titles under the realigned league.
But only Jim Lee Howell's 1956 squad would break through to win the league title.
They employed the running of back Frank Gifford, and a stout defense led by linebacker Sam Huff, linemen Andy Robustelli and Rosey Grier, and safety Emlen Tunnell.
That team went 8-3-1 and crushed the Bears in the NFL Championship, 41-7.
Then in 1958, the Giants were beaten in one of the most significant games in NFL history.
After a 9-3 regular season, they faced off with the Baltimore Colts in the league championship. The game is notable for having 17 future Hall of Fame players in it, and for going into sudden-death overtime, a first for an NFL postseason game.
More than that, the game had 45 million television viewers, an indication that the NFL had a future with a new and lucrative source of revenue.
The creation of the American Football League, its merger with the NFL and the birth of the Super Bowl are all attributed to that game.
It would be decades before the Giants would get to play in the Super Bowl that their historic 1958 game would help create.
Howell and Allie Sherman coached the team to four more championship games through 1963, without winning one. Twice during those seasons quarterback Y.A. Tittle had stellar performances enough to earn him NFL Most Valuable Player.
From the mid-1960s to the early '80s, the Giants struggled to put a winning team on the field.
By that time they had begun building a power that started with the drafting of quarterback Phil Simms in 1979.
Then in 1981, the Giants drafted a linebacker from the University of North Carolina, Lawrence Taylor.
The team already had a reputation for strong linebacking corps, with Harry Carson, Brad Van Pelt and Brian Kelley on the roster. But Taylor was a game-changer.
Over the next decade Taylor would re-invent the position with his pass-rushing style. He became the most dominating defensive player in history.
In 1983, after head coach Ray Perkins left for Alabama, the Giants elevated their defensive coordinator, Bill Parcells, to take the sidelines.
Parcells, Simms and the Taylor-led defenses made the Giants consistent winners again, climaxing in the franchise's first Super Bowl win.
That came in 1986 when the team went 14-2 and won the NFC East Division. They outscored the San Francisco 49s and Washington Redskins 66-3 in the playoff games to win the NFC Championship. Then in Super Bowl XXI, Simms and the "Big Blue Wrecking Crew" whipped the Denver Broncos, 39-20. Simms completed 22 of 25 passes for 268 yards and three touchdowns to take the game MVP award. The defense allowed the Broncos only 2 yards in the third period.
Taylor was the league MVP and Parcells was Coach of The Year that season.
Super Bowl Upset
The Giants would return to the Super Bowl again after the 1990 season.
Though they went 13-3 on the season, the fact that they were missing an injured Simms made them heavy underdogs against a powerful Buffalo Bills team led by QB Jim Kelly.
But the Giants used a clever offense and persistent defense to rally from behind and upset the Bills, 20-19. Veteran running back Ottis "O.J." Anderson ran for 108 yards and a TD, and claimed the game MVP prize.
Parcells retired from the Giants sidelines after that season, but the Giants remained competitive despite not returning to championship status again for another decade.
During the 2000 season, the Giants lost two straight games at midseason and head coach Jim Fassel faced question about their chances of making postseason.
Fassel guaranteed a playoff appearance, and his team rallied to win five straight and the NFC East. They beat the Philadelphia Eagles and crushed the Minnesota Vikings to make it to a Super Bowl showdown against the Baltimore Ravens.
But the G-men were shut out in the first half and never recovered on the way to a 34-7 loss.
The next dominant Giants teams arose not long after changes in 2004. They hired former Giants assistant Tom Coughlin as the new head coach to replace Fassel. And they acquired QB Eli Manning in a post-draft trade.
The two would be at the helm during two Super Bowl seasons over the next eight years.
Both championship seasons concluded with comeback upsets over the New England Patriots.
But the first of those two - Super Bowl XLII after the 2007 season - was the most memorable and historic. The Giants entered the game on a 10-6 regular season and road triumphs over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Dallas Cowboys and the Green Bay Packers.
The Patriots entered undefeated and heavy favorites.
But a miraculous third-down pass completion to David Tyree helped a long game-winning drive that gave the Giants a 17-14 win.
The two teams dueled again four years later, and again the Giants needed a late drive to overcome the Pats, 21-17.
Manning was the MVP in both Super Bowl wins.
Coughlin left the Giants after two straight 6-10 seasons in 2014 and '15, and in 2019 Manning was supplanted by Daniel Jones at quarterback, leaving the huddle as the longest serving Giants quarterback in history. He started in 210 consecutive games.
Location: East Rutherford, N.J.
In addition to its first home in the Polo Grounds, the Giants played in Yankee Stadium from 1956 to 1973, before the new Giants Stadium was opened in 1976. They played in Shea Stadium and the Yale Bowl while the new stadium was being built.
Famed Olympian Jim Thorpe was a member of the Giants inaugural team in 1925.
To help distinguish themselves from the New York Giants baseball team, the Giants in 1929 were incorporated as the "New York National League Football Company, Inc." and changed to "New York Football Giants, Inc." in 1937.
In 1930, during the Depression, the Giants played an all-star team of former Notre Dame players at the Polo Grounds to raise money for the unemployed and homeless in the city. The game raised more than $100,000.
In 1963, quarterback Tittle threw a then-record 36 touchdown passes on his way to an MVP year.
1 Ray Flaherty E 1928–1935
4 Tuffy Leemans RB 1936–1943
7 Mel Hein C, LB 1931–1945
11 Phil Simms QB 1979–1993
14* Ward Cuff HB, WB 1937–1945
- A. Tittle QB 1961–1964
16 Frank Gifford HB, WR 1952–1964
32 Al Blozis OT 1942–1944
40 Joe Morrison RB, WR 1959–1972
42 Charlie Conerly QB 1948–1961
50 Ken Strong HB 1933–1947
56 Lawrence Taylor LB 1981–1993
*- The number 14 was retired twice and honors both Cuff and Tittle.