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Thursday, 25 January, 2001, 10:19 GMT
A New York love affair
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."
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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".
The ball bounced into the grip of Philadelphia's Herman Edwards, and he ran in for the winning score.
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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