Interested in rooting for one of the NFL's 32 teams -- but don't know where to start? Adam Rank has you covered with this series, which will present a handy guide to becoming an instantly rabid fan of each organization in the league. Below, find out why you should root for the New York Giants.
What you need to know so you don't sound stupid
No, they don't sacrifice goats, as in creatures that live on farms. But they are the only team to have beaten the Tom Brady-led New England Patriots in the Super Bowl. And they've done it twice. That's right, twice. To use a Star Wars metaphor: The Patriots (some contend) are the Evil Empire. Bill Belichick is Darth Sidious/Emperor Palpatine, and Brady is Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader (with less mobility). That would make the Giants the Rebel Alliance, and Eli Manning would be ... Wedge Antilles. (Yes, the only dude who was part of the bombing runs on both Death Stars. Luke Skywalker was on the second Death Star working from the inside. Hmm. Let's think about this some more.)
The Giants have won four Super Bowls and eight NFL championships in all since their inception in 1925. That's the third-most in league history.
The helmet catch
The Giants beat the Patriots in Super Bowl XLII (the first of their meetings) in what most New York Giants fans would call "the greatest game ever played." (Although there was another one we'll get to in a moment.) The Patriots had been the first team in NFL history to go 16-0 in the regular season and figured winning the Super Bowl was a foregone conclusion. Especially with one of their 16 wins having come against the Giants in the regular-season finale.
The Giants were trailing 14-10 with 2:39 left when Eli drove 83 yards for the winning score. The most memorable play was David Tyree's one-handed catch, when he pinned the ball to his helmet on a 32-yard reception. It was one of those things that looked fake. And when you watch the replay, you wonder how Rodney Harrison wasn't able to knock it away. Like he was so surprised by the catch, he couldn't think of anything dirty to do.
The actual winner, however, came a few plays later, on a toss to Plaxico Burress.
Don't ever talk about ...
The Giants also won the rematch with the Patriots in Super Bowl XLVI, 21-17. This time, the Giants were down 17-15 late in the fourth quarter when, once again, Eli drove his team down the field for the winning score, which this time around was Ahmad Bradshaw's 6-yard touchdown with just under a minute left in the game. Like the Empire, the Patriots saw this thing coming for the second time -- and just couldn't do anything to stop it.
Not enough credit
Let's get into this, since we're on the subject: Eli Manning clearly doesn't get enough credit for having two fourth-quarter rallies to win Super Bowls against the greatest dynasty in sports history. People still make jokes about Eli, but the dude did something pretty incredible.
Now, Eli never had the fantasy stats his brother, Peyton, did. He also didn't get regular-season matchups against the AFC South for years and years. Think about it this way: You're in the Super Bowl. Game is on the line. Who would you rather have? Eli, who came back against the Patriots twice, or Peyton, who is probably most remembered for the crunch-time pick-six he threw against the Saints in Super Bowl XLIV?
You're lying if you say you don't want Eli. (You're lying to yourself, of course, because it's not like I can hear you, and I'm not going to read the comments -- though, dammit, I am going to see the tweets. Either way, I'll just say you're lying.) Eli was personally responsible for the Giants winning two Super Bowls. Peyton just happened to be on two teams that won Super Bowls.
The other Super Bowls
The Giants won Super Bowl XXI in a blowout over the Broncos, 39-20. The 1980s were a time of Super Bowl blowouts. There was like one close Super Bowl during that decade. Maybe two. But Phil Simms was pretty amazing in this Super Bowl. He was 22 of 25 for 268 yards and three touchdowns. Dude was damn near perfect. I once asked him what it was like to go 22 for 26, and he was quick to point out it was 25 before making a self-deprecating a joke about it. Honestly, Simms gets too much crap -- he's good people. And, dude, three incompletions in a Super Bowl ... That's amazing.
Super Bowl XXV was a touch more competitive. The Giants beat the Bills, 20-19, thanks to Buffalo kicker Scott Norwood's missed field-goal try at the end. The Giants don't get enough credit for the game plan in this one. The Bills had this amazing offense, but the Giants held the ball for 40-plus minutes, mostly via Ottis Anderson, an underrated running back brought back from the dead who carried 21 times for 102 yards and a touchdown to win MVP honors.
What about Bill?
Belichick has had a hand in all four of the Giants' Super Bowl wins. Obviously, he was the losing coach in the last two. But he was the Giants' defensive coordinator for the first two. And it should be noted Bill Parcells would never win another Super Bowl once he and Belichick parted ways. That is no commentary; I'm just pointing out the facts.
Second-best catch ever?
What Odell Beckham Jr. did against the Cowboys on "Sunday Night Football" in 2014 was a thing of beauty. And let's be honest: It was an amazing catch. Even in an era when anything cool seems to immediately qualify as the best ever, well, it was pretty great. I mean, it launched Beckham into superstardom and helped him get that fat contract from Nike. So we can't really hate.
The weird thing here? The catch kind of kept people from realizing how great Beckham is as a receiver. The catch was cool. Nobody is going to be bummed when LeBron James comes up and asks you about it. Or YouTube is filled with kids trying to emulate it. But dude had 12 TDs in 12 games during his rookie season, and people were all, "Yeah, that's cool." He had 1,367 yards and 10 touchdowns last year, and people thought it was kind of meh. It's like that catch was "Appetite for Destruction," and he is never going to top it.
The 'Kelly and Michael' guy played football?
Michael Strahan was a seven-time Pro Bowler and set the NFL single-season sack record of 22.5 in 2001. He was selected as the NFL Defensive Player of the Year that season and inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2014. Now he's retired to be on every television show imaginable. First "Kelly and Michael" and then "Good Morning America," which is kind of a big deal.
The greatest game ever played
No, it's not Super Bowl XLII. But that was close. (And, actually, if you're a Giants fan, you probably think that's the one.) The 1958 NFL Championship Game is considered by many to be the greatest game of all time. The Baltimore Colts beat the Giants, 23-17, in overtime. And yes, it was somewhat of a bummer for the Giants (as if any of you were alive for that game), but it plays a significant part in NFL history, because it was the day the league became legend.
Actress Kate Mara is the great-granddaughter of Giants founder Tim Mara and Steelers founder Art Rooney Sr. But she has identified as a Giants fan. And it turns out she had an ex-boyfriend who once accidentally dented the Giants' Lombardi Trophy. Man, meeting the family is hard enough. But denting the Lombardi Trophy? That had to be a rather awkward Thanksgiving dinner.
The franchise's best
Linebacker Lawrence Taylor can lay claim to being the greatest player in NFL history. Taylor was the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year in 1981, was a three-time Defensive Player of the Year and was second all-time in sacks when he retired (132.5). He also won an NFL MVP award, which is very hard to do for anybody other than a quarterback. He won two Super Bowls and was first-team All-Pro in eight of his first nine seasons. And he was hilarious in "The Waterboy," starring Adam Sandler. (If you think that's an easy thing to pull off, watch Brett Favre in "There's Something About Mary" and get back to me.)
Jason Sehorn. Now, am I guilty of a little #WCW with Angie Harmon? I'm going to plead the fifth on that one. But Sehorn got a lot of credit he never seemed to earn. The dude was burned by Trent Dilfer in Super Bowl XXXV. (Oh yeah -- also never acknowledge that game.) And then he was burned again by Steve Smith in the playoffs a few years later. Sure, Sehorn was playing for St. Louis at the time, but that still deserves a mention.
You would look pretty awesome in a Frank Gifford jersey. It's not like there are a lot of running backs in NFL history who rocked a No. 16, or did so with such grace. You obviously never saw Gifford play (same here), though you might remember him from "Monday Night Football" and other TV appearances. This dude was the Derek Jeter of New York in the 1950s. And he was a pretty good football player. I know Mickey Mantle existed in the 1950s, but legend has it Gifford was the king of New York.
Closing fun fact
The Giants became the New York Football Giants to distinguish themselves from their baseball-playing counterparts. It might be hard to fathom now, but baseball was more popular than football in the early days of the NFL (shoot, make that until the 1980s). So it wasn't uncommon for NFL teams to take the name of the popular baseball team in town. Even when the baseball Giants moved to San Francisco, the Football Giants kept the name. And to be honest, it sounds kind of cool.
Also, the Giants considered New England their TV market for the longest time. So there were people in New England who are actually Giants fans and likely rooted against the Patriots in those Super Bowls. Or, more likely, they were Giants fans as kids, jumped on the Patriots' bandwagon after Super Bowl XXXVI, and then were chagrined to be on the wrong side of two Super Bowl losses.
It's going to be tough to just show up and be a Giants fan, given the rich history. But it's not impossible. The Giants are a good choice because they do have some stability. Being in New York means they are going to be on television a lot, too. Oh yeah -- they have one of the best players on the planet right now in OBJ. So if you're going to say, "Hey, OBJ brought me to this team," well, I'm not going to stop you.