Credited with introducing the city of New York to football, the New York Giants have a history that is nearly as big as the team’s name.
Wellington Mara, at only the age of 14, along with his 21-year old brother Jack, took ownership of the five-year-old team in 1930 only to become the world’s youngest football team owner. Their father Tim Mara was the first owner who bought the team for a reported $500.
One of the first notable games, dubbed the “Sneakers Game,” was in 1934 where the Giants beat the Chicago Bears 30-13. The game was played in nine-degree weather, and the players were given basketball shoes to increase traction on the icy field.
Six years later, World War II comes and brings along with it many challenges for most National Football League teams. Losing many players to military service, many teams had to take desperate measures to keep the sport alive, including merging two different teams into one. The Giants, however — as their name implies — were bigger than these challenges and managed to not only survive through the War years, but also make it to three NFL championship games.
The next decade, the 1950’s, looked even more promising for the Giants as they recruited Tom Landry, Frank Gifford, Sam Huff and a few other players who would redefine the team, the NFL and football at large. Coached by Hall of Famers, these and other players also landed Hall of Fame recognition for their performance for the Giants.
Gifford, who played for the team from 1952 to 1964, holds the Giants team record of 788 touchdowns. He played in seven Pro Bowls and was named All-NFL four times. In 1953 and for the first (and only) time in the NFL, he was named to the Pro Bowl as both a defensive back and an offensive back in the following year. During his career, the Giants caught up to the NFL Championship five times and won the world championship in 1956.
The team lost many of their key players in the 1960’s, a decade that marked a turning point for the Giants. A series of repeated injuries and retirements left the team weary and uncertain through the decade and well into the 1970’s. During the ’70s, the Giants finished in last place or next-to-last eight times. This long history of losing, however, ended in 1986 with the team’s first appearance on the Super Bowl since 1956.
Four years later, the dramatic 20-19 score won the Giants their second Super Bowl over the Buffalo Bills, and three years later, in 1993, the team now had a co-owner, after 60 years of sole ownership by the Mara Family. The co-owner, Preston Robert Tisch, was a native of New York City and a lifelong fan.
Dan Reeves, hired in 1993 as head coach, brought back the Giants to the Super Bowl. The 1990′s started the team’s yet existing success with the NFL’s most promising coaches, like Jim Fassel, and the Pro Bowl players, like Eli Manning.
The Giants continue to keep Americans on their toes with their more recent Super Bowl Victory last weekend. The team scored 9 points in the first quarter, none in the second and 6 points in each of the third and fourth quarters, leaving them only four points ahead of the defeated New England Patriots.