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Thursday, 25 January, 2001, 10:19 GMT
A New York love affair
NY Giants Super Bowl XXXV team
Today's New York Giants are heirs to a mixed legacy
By BBC Sport Online's Mark Barden

The New York Giants' losses as much as their triumphs have given them a special place in NFL history.

The Giants won this year's NFC Championship game and will take on the Baltimore Ravens in Super Bowl XXXV on Sunday.

After clinching their NFL showpiece berth, co-owner Wellington Mara, the last remaining NFL patriarch, said defiantly: "We proved we're the worst team to ever win the NFC Championship.

"And we're going to try to become the worst team ever to win the Super Bowl."

  Giants Factfile
Giants bring pro football to New York
1927: clinch first title
1933: lost first-ever postseason game to Chicago
1934: gained revenge on Bears
1938: won third title but lost in 1939, 1941, 1944 and 1946
1956: won championship
1958: lost "Greatest Game" to Baltimore
1959: Lost title to Colts again, to Green Bay in 1961 and 1962, and Chicago in 1933
1986: beat Denver 39-20 to win their first Superbowl
1990: took second Super Bowl title with 20-18 win over Buffalo
Mara's attitude was appropriate to the franchise his bookmaker father Tim bought for $500 at a time when the league was overshadowed by baseball, boxing and even college football.

At the age of nine, he was on the sidelines with his brother Jack for the Giants' first home game in 1925, against the Frankford Yellow Jackets.

The club took the name of the baseball team with which it shared a field, calling itself the New York Football Giants.

Financial stability

It was not until 51 years later that the team would get a home of its own, Giants Stadium across the river in New Jersey.

It took nearly that long for the club, still mired in debt in the early 1960s, to find financial stability.

They had won their first championship in 1927, however, displaying the defensive orientation that was to become a hallmark by holding opponents scoreless in 10 of their 13 games.

Vince Lombardi
Packers legend Lombardi started with the Giants
In 1933, in the league's first postseason title game, the Giants lost to the Bears. An outcome New York would become used to, as they have managed to lose 11 of their 17 championship appearances.

But 1934 brought one of their six victories, thanks to a tailor named Abe Cohen.

Midway through the game, he brought in basketball shoes for the Giants to wear on the icy Polo Grounds surface. Having trailed Chicago 13-3 in the third quarter, they won 30-13.

Deee-fence

The Giants used basketball footwear to help them win another title in 1956 after they started to come out of another bad stretch with a move to Yankee Stadium.

That was also the year when fans began to chant "Deee-fence", and when head coach Jim Lee Howell employed assistant coaches in a new, compartmental way.

His offensive and defensive sidekicks later became two of the NFL's most influential head coaches, Vince Lombardi with the Green Bay Packers and Tom Landry with the Dallas Cowboys.

Tom Landry
Landry also learnt his trade with the Giants
That was the most glamorous era of Giants history, with players such as Kyle Rote, Roosevelt Brown and above all Frank Gifford elevated to the city's highest celebrity status.

And a TV documentary called "The Violent World of Sam Huff" helped to put not just the Giants' middle linebacker but also his team and sport into the limelight.

On 28 December 1958, the Giants were involved in what became known as "The Greatest Game", against the Baltimore Colts.

During the clash, Colts coach Weeb Ewbank and Huff traded punches on the sideline, while Gino Marchetti broke a leg tackling Gifford.

The Giants idol said that, in the confusion, Marchetti kicked the ball backwards with his other leg, depriving New York of a key first down and leading to Baltimore's dramatic 23-17 overtime win.

"The Fumble"

The Giants lost five title games in the six years from 1958 to 1963, then had only three winning seasons in 19 years.

It was another of the Giants' legendary losses that helped to turn things around again, this one known as "The Fumble".

Jim Fassel, NY Giants head coach
Can Fassel guide the NYGs to a third Super Bowl win?
On 19 November 1978, a win over the Eagles was in hand with just 31 seconds to go. But quarterback Joe Pisarcik tried to hand off instead of kneeling and letting the clock run out.

The ball bounced into the grip of Philadelphia's Herman Edwards, and he ran in for the winning score.

Taylor revolution

During a game soon afterwards, a small plane flew above the stadium with a sign bemoaning "15 Years of Lousy Football".

The Giants took note, and named the team's first professional general manager, George Young.

Young put together the teams which, under coach Bill Parcells, won Super Bowls following the 1986 and 1990 seasons.

Those teams, with Lawrence Taylor revolutionising the linebacker position, were built around defence.

It is the same formula that a Giants team put together by Young's former assistant Ernie Accorsi, now general manager, will carry into Super Bowl XXXV against the Ravens under head coach Jim Fassel.

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See also:

24 Jan 01 |  Other Sports
Lewis focused on Super Bowl
14 Jan 01 |  Other Sports
Giants stroll into Super Bowl
15 Jan 01 |  Other Sports
Ravens book Super Bowl berth
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