New York Giants
New York Giants Football
The New York Giants are one of the oldest franchises in the National Football League. The Giants were founded in 1925, only five years after the NFL formed. The Giants have won 7 NFL titles, including four pre-Superbowl NFL League Championships and three Superbowl titles.
Of course, the New York Giants are the current defending world champions. The 2007-2008 NFL New York Giants were underdogs to win the playoffs from their wildcard position, but defeated the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on the road before polishing off three of the NFL’s top teams in 2007: the New England Patriots, Green Bay Packers and Dallas Cowboys.
Led by Eli Manning and Plaxico Burress on offense and Osi Umenyiora and Justin Tuck on defense, the Giants were able to produce one of the great upsets in Superbowl history by defeating the previously unbeaten New England Patriots.
NY Football Giants History
The Giants have a long history to relate. Because it has been the premier New York City football team, the Giants have been instrumental in the rise of the NFL. In fact, the Giants may have had more to do with the ascendence of pro football in America than any other team. Here are two examples of why this is the case.
New York Giants vs. Notre Dame
In 1930, the New York Giants were part of an exhibition game against the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame. It would be unthinkable to match a college and pro team nowadays, but the college game was a much bigger attraction in the 1930′s. Many people, including Notre Dame coach Knute Rockne, believed the Irish would easily handle the Giants.
But the NFL team easily handled Notre Dame, which took a shutout loss, and the NFL was considered a legitimate league afterwards. Incidentally, the 1930 exhibition was for the benefit of the New York poor and homeless, who were beginning to feel the effects of the Great Depression.
New York Giants vs. Baltimore Colts
Cut ahead some 28 years later to the 1958 NFL Championship Game. This was the first game broadcast live on nationwide television. On one side were the Giants, led by Frank Gifford and Sam Huff and coached by coordinators Vince Lombardi and Tom Landry. On the other side were the Colts, who were led by Johnny Unitis and Raymond Berry. The game went into sudden death overtime and captivated the nation. The NFL’s identity as the premier television event on sports was started that day.
New York Giants Before the Superbowl
The Giants were a major football power in the 1930′s and the 1950′s. The Giants of the thirties won two championships and appeared in six other title games before 1946. The Giants team of the fifties won 1 title (1956) and appeared in the championship game in 1958, 1959, 1961, 1962 and 1963. From 1960 until 1964, this New York Giants team was led by Y.A. Tittle at quarterback.
The Modern New York Giants
After 1963, the Giants began a twenty year period of relative mediocrity. It would be this era when the Giants formed new rivalries with teams like the Dallas Cowboys. But the Giants were noticeably absent from the picture during the years of the NFL-AFL rivalry and the early years of the Superbowl. The only truly memorable New York NFL moment in those years was produced by the New York Jets, when Joe Namath famously promised victory in Super Bowl III.
One of the worst decisions of these years was the trade of quarterback Fran Tarkenton. Tarkenton was traded by the Minnesota Vikings to the Giants in 1967, when he was in his prime. Tarkenton led the Giants to two winning seasons from 1967 to 1971, which coincidentally were the only two winning seasons between 1964 and 1978.
After the 1971 season, Giants management traded Tarkenton back to Minnesota. As the Giants floundered, Tarkenton led the Vikings to three Super Bowl appearances in the mid-1970′s. The low point was the Miracle at the Meadowlands, when the Giants fumbled away a sure victory to the Philadelphia Eagles in the waning seconds of a 1978 ballgame.
The rise of Bill Parcells would make Giants fans forget the dismal years. Phil Simms was drafted in 1979, though he would not become a star for several more years. The real turning point was in 1981, when the New York Giants drafted Lawrence Taylor with the second overall pick of the 1981 NFL Draft. Taylor would be both Defensive Rookie of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year. His style of stand-up pass rushing as an outside linebacker would revolutionize defense in the NFL. Bill Parcells would craft the defense which would put Taylor in place to make his plays.
Parcells was the Giants’ Defensive Coordinator in these years, working under Ray Perkins. Perkins endured a 4-5 year during the strike-shortened 1982 season and shortly left to take over for Bear Bryant at the University of Alabama. Parcells was hired to replace Perkins and would go on to become a New York City sports icon. During these remainder of the 1980′s, Parcells would build a ferocious Giants Defense around his 3-4 scheme which featured four linebackers. This defense was built to utilitize the talents of linebackers Lawrence Taylor, Carl Banks and Harry Carson.
Phil Simms, Joe Morris and Mark Bavaro were standouts on the offensive side of the ball. Parcells preferred veteran players, but was able to draft hard-nosed players who would accept his old-fashioned, authoritarian style of coaching. When the diminutive Joe Morris began to slow down, Parcells traded for O.J. Anderson and drafted Rodney Hampton to split the running chores. When Phil Simms went down to injury, Jeff Hostetler was able to lead the Parcells-era Giants to a second Superbowl title.
Parcells, known as the Big Tuna in the New York City and national media, would make the Giants a perennial contender from 1983 until his first retirement in 1990, after his second Superbowl win. The 1990 season saw the Giants go 10-0 to start the season, a feat matched by the two-time defending champion San Francisco 49ers that same year. The Niners would win a Week 12 matchup on Monday Night Football against the Giants, but the Giants beat the Niners in the NFC Championship Game rematch. Joe Montana was knocked out of the game, though he was replaced by Hall of Famer Steve Young. It should also be mentioned that the Giants were led by backup Hostetler in that game.
The 1990′s New York Giants
The Giants collapsed in 1991 under the leadership of Ray Handley. Handley started a quarterback controversy when he named Jeff Hostetler the starting quarterback that year, and the team struggled to find an identity for much of the season. Meanwhile, Lawrence Taylor was beginning to show signs of aging. 1992 was even worse, as Hostetler was traded and Taylor missed six games with an Achilles tendon injury. When LT returned, he would not be the same player he once was.
Dan Reeves took over for the 1993 season and he brought the Giants to a state of respectability. He was not able to contend with the fact that the Giants leaders were aging and their skills were eroding. In a sign of the times, Phil Simms was cut, not due to inefficiency, but for salary cap purposes.
Jim Fassell and Kerry Collins
Reeves would be fired and replaced with Jim Fassel in 1996. Fassell started Danny Kanell, who led the team to a surprising 10-5-1 record and the playoffs in 1997. Kanell would not be the longterm answer, though, and Fassell would eventually bring in the troubled Kerry Collins to quarterback the Giants.
Meanwhile, the New York front office was bringing in future star players like Tiki Barber and Michael Strahan. Fassel would lead the New York Giants to the Superbowl in 2000, but they were easily defeated by a Baltimore Ravens team with a dominant defense. Strahan would break the all-time NFL single season sack record in 2001, but they Giants would fail to get close to another Superbowl during Fassell’s tenure, which lasted until 2004.
Tom Coughlin Football
Tom Coughlin replaced Fassell in 2004. Coughlin had been an assistant for a brief time under Bill Parcells, and the Giants chose Coughlin for his no-nonsense reputation. Coughlin had taken the expansion franchise, the Jacksonville Jaguars, to an AFC title game, but Coughlin’s methods wore thin with players as that team became a more veteran outfit.
Coughlin’s first few years in New York City would be stormy. He would butt heads with stars like Tiki Barber, Plaxico Burress and Michael Strahan. The inclusion of the brash Jeremy Shockey and the understated Eli Manning would make for a strange locker room atmosphere. Veteran team leaders were outspoken in the New York media, while Eli Manning was criticized for not being enough of a take-charge type.
By the time the 2007 NFL season started, Tom Coughlin was thought to be on his last leg in New York City. Tiki Barber had retired, claiming he might have returned had it not been for Coughlin. Strahan was holding out of camp, threatening to retire himself. When the Giants went 0-2 to start the season, there was even talk that Coughlin would be fired if the team when 0-3.
The Giants mounted a come-from-behind victory over the Washington Redskins in Week 3 of the NFL season. Though the team would struggle with key injuries, as they had for most of Coughlin’s tenure, the team began a winning streak. Eli seemed to falter in the second half of the season, while Shockey once again was lost due to injuries. Plaxico often missed practices for the same reason, and many thought the Giants would be one-and-done in the playoffs.
But the Giants finished the regular season strong, taking heart from a 38-35 loss to the unbeaten New England Patriots in the last week of the season. The Giants used this game as a rallying point, and went on the road to defeat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the wildcard round of the playoffs.
The defeat of the Bucs wasn’t that much of an upset. But when the Giants defeated the rival the Dallas Cowboys the next week, people took notice. The Cowboys had beaten the Giants twice in the regular season. The victory placed the Giants in the NFC Championship Game, where they traveled to Lambeau Field to face the Green Bay Packers. An overtime win placed them surprisingly in the Superbowl.
The Superbowl was a rematch with the New England Patriots. The Giants defense, led by the pass-rushing skills of Osi Umenyiora and Justin Tuck, held the record-breaking Patriots offense to only 14. Still, the Giants needed a late drive by Eli Manning to win the game. Manning delivered, with a touchdown pass to Plaxico Burress with just over half-a-minute left in regulation.
The Superbowl win saved Coughlin’s job for the foreseeable future, as he signed a 4-year extension in the offseason. It boosted the reputation of Eli Manning, who finally had shown his coolness under the stress of NFL football at the highest level. Few place the Giants as a realistic choice to repeat as champions, but for one magical postseason, the New York Giants were again the talk of the NFL.