пятница, 14 сентября 2012 г.

IN BOSTON, THERE'S CLEARLY A HOME TEAM TO ROOT FOR - The Boston Globe (Boston, MA)

STILL NOT IN TAMPA - I will watch. It's an American holiday,trailing only Thanksgiving and the Fourth of July, and yes, I willwatch Super Bowl XXXV tonight.

And I will be rooting for the New York Football Giants - NewEngland's other pro football team.

It's a generation thing. You have to be a Greater Boston native -at least 40-45 years old - to understand why the Giants are our'other' team. You have to be old enough to remember Curt Gowdycalling Red Sox games and Bob Cousy playing for the Celtics. You haveto remember when President Kennedy went to Mass at St. Francis Xavierin Hyannisport, and when John Glenn and Alan Shepard were gods ofouter space.

If you remember those things, grew up around here, and lovedfootball, the Giants were your team.

Before Billy Sullivan invented the Patriots, the New York FootballGiants (that's what Howard Cosell always called them) were NewEngland's pro football team. Several years after the Patriots wereformed, the Giants were still No. 1 in the hearts of many local fans.

Blame television. The Giants came into our living rooms everySunday. Chris Schenkel was our voice of football. Weird, but true. Wecould simultaneously hate the Yankees and love the Giants. Giantsgames were played at Yankee Stadium and we knew there was a slope tothat football field. Schenkel would talk about the Giants goinguphill or downhill in the second half.

They were the championship Giants of Frank Gifford, Del Shofner,Sam Huff, Roosevelt Grier, and Dick Modzelewski. They were coached byAllie Sherman and when things went bad, fans would sing, 'Goodbye,Allie, we hate to see you go.'

I loved the Giants and hated the Cleveland Browns. Hated thePackers, too. When I came of age as a young fan in the early 1960s,the Giants were beginning to crumble and make way for Paul Hornung ofthe Packers and Jimmy Brown of the Browns.

But the Giants were more fun than any of them. Before it wastrendy for athletes to be bald, the Giants had a chromedomequarterback named Y.A. Tittle. He was only about 35 years old in hisGiants heyday, but to those of us in the fourth grade, he looked 100.Y.A. was a classic, drop-back, bomb-tosser. Unfortunately, hissignature moment came when he was photographed, sans helmet, withblood running down his bald pate after he was steamrolled by aPittsburgh Steeler in 1964. I loved Y.A. Tittle. In the drawer of mydesk, I still have Tittle's Salada Tea football coin.

I also have Elliot Asinof's 'Seven Days to Sunday,' an insider'slook at a week in the life of an NFL team. The book was dedicated toWellington Mara, who'll be sitting in the owner's box today. I boughtthe book at the Burlington Mall in 1968 when I was 14 and read it intwo days.

The Giants were crumbling by this time. After the final days ofY.A. Tittle, they struggled with a scrambling quarterback named FranTarkenton, but they still entertained. They had Baby Bull runningbacks, including the handsome Tucker Frederickson. They had Olympicsprinter Henry Carr in the defensive backfield and they had wideoutHomer Jones, the first football player to spike the ball when hecrossed into the end zone. They had the first soccer-style field goalkicker, Pete Gogolak.

They also had the coolest helmets, tasteful royal blue with a redstripe down the middle and a classy 'NY' on the side.

It was tough for the Boston Patriots in those early days. Guyslike me pledged allegiance to the Giants while our local teamoperated in relative obscurity. In the days before sports radiobecame hateful and idiotic, I phoned Guy Mainella on 'Calling AllSports' to tell him the Giants were the only football team thatmattered around here.

I even stuck with the Giants through college when Rocky Thompsonwas their aptly named kick returner and they played home games at theYale Bowl. Then the Giants moved to the Meadowlands and traded their'NY' for a hideous 'GIANTS' helmet logo. It wasn't the same. They wonSuper Bowls with those helmets. They had Massachusetts stars like JoeMorris and Mark Bavaro, but they had ceased being our team. ThePatriots had taken over.

The Giants' old logo came back this year. Nobody calls them theNew York Football Giants anymore, but I still get a chill when I seethat old helmet. Fans of the Baltimore Colts must still get that buzzwhen they see the helmets now worn by the team in Indianapolis.

The Giants still have fan clubs in New England, including a loyalgroup in Malden that is making the pilgrimage to Florida thisweekend.

No trip to Tampa for me, but I will be rooting for these directdescendents of Y.A. Tittle and Homer Jones. They are still the NewYork Football Giants, New England's other pro football team.

Dan Shaughnessy is a Globe columnist. His e-mail address isdshaughnessy@globe.com.