Remembering Defunct NFL Teams: The New York Giants

Ian Scott McCormick

Ian Scott McCormick

Ian is a New Yorker, a father, a husband, a sports fan. He covers a variety of subjects but really only appreciates burgers and cola.
Ian Scott McCormick

As the NFL reaches its 100th Anniversary, it’s important to remember the the league is a wildly different beast than it was in 1920. While many of us will point toward the newer franchises like the Houston Texans and the Cleveland Browns, her history is littered with teams that didn’t survive.

The Providence Steam Roller

The Muncie Flyers

The Tonawanda Kardex

These were all actual NFL teams. I’m not making this up. Go look for yourself. You’ll find them in the history books along with Oorang Indians, the LA Buccaneers and the Detroit Panthers. But perhaps no other franchise disappeared with more history than the New York Giants, who mysteriously vanished seven years ago.

For those who are too young to remember, the New York Giants, or “The New York FOOTBALL Giants” as annoying people might have referred to them, were a professional football squad that occasionally played in New York. Initially calling the Polo Grounds their home, they later went on to host games at Yankee Stadium, the Yale Bowl, and two separate stadiums in East Rutherford, NJ. As a classic franchise, they netted four separate NFL championships before the advent of the Super Bowl era. In the years since, they had nabbed another four Super Bowl trophies, to cement themselves as one of the cornerstone members of the league.

And then they disappeared.

You would be forgiven for not noticing their disappearance. As one of the Blue Blood franchises, the Giants have proven themselves to be scandal averse, unlike their trash fire stadium-mates the Jets are no stranger to back page antics. While a nose to the grindstone attitude is frequently romanticized in the sport, the Giants stoicism has indeed hindered any attempts to suss out exactly where things went so horribly wrong. Like them or loathe them, you would know if the Raiders, Cowboys or Patriots suddenly ceased to exist. You would feel their absence. Having long forgone spectacle for workmanship, the Giants have often seemed to harbor a borderline fetish on nebulous ideas like “culture.”

But there’s a funny thing about culture: Sometimes it refuses to go defunct no matter what.

See, in a sense the Giants are still very much alive. If you take a trip to the Meadowlands- East Rutherford, New Jersey, to be exact- you will see from outside MetLife Stadium, where the Jets call home, all the trappings of New York’s other, forgotten team. Yes, those are the sounds of football pads pressing up against one another in the doldrums of summer workouts. And if you talk to the personnel, they will insist to a man, that they are preparing for yet another football season.

Much like that fictional cornfield turned baseball diamond in Iowa, these Giants have subscribed to the mindset that someone else had already built them the stadium, so they’d damn well better come. The Giants feature all of the trappings of any of the 31 existing NFL teams. They engage in practices, sign talent, even award positions like General Manager, Head Coach, Defensive Coordinator…the whole shebang. Some would call it mass delirium, but these Giants simply call it culture.

And like any cocky teenager at the Renaissance Fair, it is my job to see if I can get them to break their act. To see if I can get one of them to admit that their imaginary friend is a fiction. To admit that they don’t actually believe that they still exist. I approach two time Super Bowl MVP Eli Manning, softly and mechanically cosplaying as a younger version of himself. He squints into the sunsoaked horizon, gingerly laying out wounded ducks that come ever so close to his “receivers.”  I joke that he looks like he’s about ready for the season.

“Yeah, we’re coming along. Right now I’m just trying to establish a connection with my receiving corps.”

I mention that it must be tough to find the time to get together in these summer days. Surely, he was okay financially, but how do his teammates wives feel about their dedicating so much time to these “football camps”?

“Well, we’ve all got to make sacrifices. It’s a privilege.”

I asked him what he hoped to get out of this.

“Well, the goal’s to start, you know. Same as always.”

I ask him, with a grin if he thinks he could still lace them up out there. The comment elicits that classic confused Eli Manning expression, and I find myself giddy. For a moment, I truly felt as though I were at an old New York Giants training camp.

To his left is Daniel Jones who the Giants “drafted” in the first round. I watch as he squints into the sunsoaked horizon, gingerly laying out wounded ducks that come ever so close to his “receivers.”  I joke that he looks like he’s about ready for the season.

“Yeah, we’re coming along. Right now I’m just trying to establish a connection with my receiving corps.”

I mention that it must be tough to find the time to get together in these summer days. Surely, he was okay financially, but how do his teammates wives feel about their dedicating so much time to these “football camps”?

“Well, we’ve all got to make sacrifices. It’s a privilege.”

I asked him what he hoped to get out of this.

“Well, the goal’s to start, you know. Same as always.”

I ask him if he still thinks he could lace them up for a Saturday afternoon game at Duke. The comment elicits that classic confused Daniel Jones expression, and I find myself giddy. For a moment, I truly felt as though I were at a Duke Blue Devils football training camp.

Of course sometimes there are real ramifications of being given the charitable draft pick the Giants are afforded. Second year Saquon Barkley has frequently been cited as a player who could very much play in the real NFL these days. I ask him if he has any regrets about his draft day.

“Regrets? It was a dream come true.”

Granted, I never expect a Penn State alumnus to be completely honest about their past, but he is steadfast. I find myself pitying his lot in life. I mention that it must be difficult to see other players in his class go to better situations. Saquon, clearly in denial about the realities of his career, simply shook his head and told me that I had to get off the field, as he performed the Sisyphean task of running perfect routes, and bursting through his A, B and C gaps.

Over by the offensive lineman I see former Patriot standout, Nate Soldier, his shirt soaked in sweat, as he takes a moment to rehydrate. I ask him he ever considers giving it up.

“Nobody likes training camp. You don’t have to like it. But if you’re here, you might as well make it worth the effort, am I right?”

I wanted to ask him if it was worth it, before I remember that the Giants shockingly agreed to pay the Tackle $13MM this season. All that for nothing.

“You know, I’m getting pretty sick and tired of hearing that kind of garbage.”

Still, the situation isn’t truly hopeless. Several players from last year’s “squad” had indeed found legitimate work with NFL franchises. Landon Collins wound up with their former rival in Washington. Several players are on the Browns. “Snacks” Harrison, one of the favorites for the North Jersey regulars at these camps, managed to get a flier with the Detroit Lions at the end of the season last year.

And then there is the case of Golden Tate, who fell out of the league and landed with the Giants over the offseason. Tate is not with the team, as he is suspended through the first four games, due to a violation of the league’s performance enhancing substance policy. Clearly desperate to make his way back into the league, the former star may have made his return back all that more arduous.

I found my way over to David Gettleman, the alleged general manager, and asked him to describe what we were witnessing.

“I think we’re both rebuilding, and contending. I expect for us to win games this year.”

But what does this camp represent?

“Culture. We’re an organization that values culture above all. There were certain players on the team last year, and I don’t want to single anybody out, but they’re not here anymore. Not because they didn’t have the talent. They had loads of talent. But they didn’t fit the culture.”

And then I could see it. They were recreating a team from my youth. It was a team where the quarterback might have been incidental to the success of the franchise. Where wide receivers were largely anonymous instead of dynamic. The kind of team that laughs at modern convention suggesting that you never take a running back second overall. It was reminiscent of the time Phil Simms retired and the Giants drafted a young, and terrible Dave Brown out of Duke. A place where the statisticians were rightly regarded as nerds, and the common sense of a 68 year old white man reigned supreme. Truly a throwback to a more familiar time. And we come back to that word, culture. It isn’t simply a buzzword around these parts. When other teams throw that word around, you still get the sense that they’ll do what it takes to adapt with the times. To become faster. More offensive minded. Less preoccupied with Hog Mollies. But not these Giants. When the natural selection knocked on their door and told them it was time to evolve, the New York Football Giants said, ‘No sir, this is where I get off,’ and simply walked away from the league, but not the game.

So now here they are, practicing amongst themselves, high on their shared obsession with culture. Some will always scratch their heads and wonder why they chose the path they went down. But as I watch a disoriented wide receiver stretch out his arms and almost catch a vintage Eli Manning toss from 2012, I can almost see what they’re talking about.

It’s almost beautiful.

Ian Scott McCormick
Ian Scott McCormick
Ian is a New Yorker, a father, a husband, a sports fan. He covers a variety of subjects but really only appreciates burgers and cola.
https://ianscottmccormick.com/
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Moose -The End Is Well NighSenor WeaseloOld School ZeroWhyEaglesWhyUnsurprised Recent comment authors
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Moose -The End Is Well Nigh
Moose -The End Is Well Nigh

“The New York Giants first won the Super Bowl in 1987 when they beat the Denver Broncos. Their next win came in 1991 when they played against the Buffalo Bills. They won again in 2008 and in 2012, both times playing against the New England Patriots. The Giants single Super Bowl defeat was in 2001 against the Baltimore Ravens.”

They kicked my fucking team’s ass way back when when Pheeeeel had his best fucking game ever. Then I was drunkenly rooting for the Bills, then the next two will always have Eli and the Gints lay fondly in my heart; those wins were exquisite.

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WhyEaglesWhy

It’s a pity. Perhaps these football Giants could gain some relevance by becoming the Washington Generals of the NFL. Eli will be perfect as someone fooled by buckets of confetti and ladders used to intercept his errant passes.

Unsurprised
Unsurprised

“… and Taylor”

Unsurprised
Unsurprised

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Funny enough, that applies more for Artie than LT now.

RIP Artie’s nose.

Unsurprised
Unsurprised

Yeah, but future owner Kate Mara has nice boobs. Especially since her sister lost any cuteness from when she was in The Social Network to play The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo for some stupid fucking reason.

/BARSTOOL FUCKHOLE MODE OFF

Rikki-Tikki-Deadly

I expect this year’s (and the last few years’) Giants to replace the Raiders as the opponent that ends up in the most plays of opposing teams’ highlight reels.

Old School Zero

Geeeee-neeious!

I’m going to try to take Draw Play Dave out for wings a few times this season as a sort of suicide watch.

Unsurprised
Unsurprised

Can I come? We could bring Pirate Sloth and the ever elusive BBR

Old School Zero

Hell yeah. We all need to be on suicide watch.

Low Commander of the Super Soldiers

THESE NEW YORK GIANTS, I CALL THEM JIMMY HOFFA, BECAUSE THEY DISAPPEARED INTO THE MEADOWLANDS AND NO ONE SEEMS TO NOTICE OR CARE

nomonkeyfun

Ahhh, Giants QBs, I remember them well.

The good until they weren’t.

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The flash in the pan.

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The never weres.

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(You play to win the game by the way.)

It’s enough to make me want to emulate another Giants QB.

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BC Dick

Doesn’t every fumble change football, really?

Rikki-Tikki-Deadly

No, not when the Raiders do it on a kickoff return that follows a touchdown that put them behind 35-3.

Low Commander of the Super Soldiers

“But what does the book say, JEEEEEEEEEEMMMM?”

King Hippo

Some would call it mass delirium, but these Giants simply call it culture.

I propose this for official franchise song:

LemonJello
LemonJello

If this is to be taken as fact (Spoiler: IT IS!), then there are only 30 teams left in the NFL as we have established long ago that there is no such thing as…what was that cute little term you used? Oh, indeed, the “Houston Texans.”

/dry laugh
/adjusts monocle
//dick joke

The Right Reverend Electric Mayhem

FUN OBSCURE FACTOID: Tonawanda (now a suburb of Buffalo) was first settled by a man with the absolutely appropriate name of Henry Anguish.

Senor Weaselo

In terms of names in New York Tonawanda is no Canandaigua. Or Wappingers Falls. Or Fresh Meadows.