Confessions of a Giants Season Ticket Holder
by John Delach
Although my 57th year being a Football Giants season ticket holder began on Sunday September 9 with a 20-15 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars my hope is they recover and press on. Meanwhile, I’d like to reflect on some odd experiences and thoughts about the mostly enjoyable but sometimes frustrating journey of being a season ticket holder.
Mike Francesca, the top-rated sports talk guy on WFAN in New York once described Football Giants season ticket holders as white-male, mostly middle aged or older who believe all home games should begin at 1 PM so they can return home in time for their evening martini. He almost hit the nail on the head, but I see no reason why the games can’t start at 2 PM as they did in 1962 and my cocktail of choice is 12-year old Red Breast in a short glass with three ice cubes.
I define the end of summer as the first morning that I step outside to retrieve the newspapers and sense the rising sun has yet to cut through the slight chill from the previous night. I never cease to thrill at the feel and smell of such a morning when I think to myself: “Ah, football weather.”
The best Sunday of the year is opening day when everything is possible. The second happiest day of the year is when the season tickets arrive in the mail. So, help me, I still get charged as I open the envelope. (Unfortunately, NFL teams are encouraging fans to download game tickets electronically to their smart phones, the Giants included. This year the powers that be referred to my cardboard printed tickets as “souvenir tickets” a portent of things to come and so it goes.)
I no longer attend night games although, playoff games may be exceptions.
Worst three defeats I witnessed. Number One: The loss to the Packers in the 1962 NFL Championship Game in Yankee Stadium, the coldest I have ever been. At 18-years old, I was crushed as my new love, the Football Giants lost 16-7. Number two: Super Bowl XXXV. In Tampa. The Ravens cleaned our clocks and the money I pissed away ticked me off, big time. Number Three: The overtime playoff loss to the Rams in Giants Stadium in 1989 when Flipper Anderson caught the winning pass right in front of us and just kept running off the field and into the tunnel leading to the visitor’s locker room. We were stunned, and I’ve never witnessed a packed stadium being that quiet. (Honorable mention: The Fumble on November 19, 1978 against the Eagles.)
Top three victories: Super Bowl XLII. (I will cover this in a separate piece, but the Giants won, and I traveled to Arizona to see the game with my son.) Number two: Super Bowl XXV. This came about by chance; my mates discovered a pool of tickets available for the taking at a reasonable price and four of us jumped on it. The Big Sombrero in Tampa versus the Buffalo Bills with the war in Iraq as a backdrop. Long story, short; Scott Norwood missed a 45-yard field goal letting us celebrate a 20-19 victory. Number three, the 1986 NFC Championship Game vs. the Redskins in the howling winds of Giants Stadium. The hawk was blowing that day allowing Sean Landetta, the Giants punter, to be the hero that day and send Big Blue to SB XXI.
I’ve rooted for the Giants at home in Yankee Stadium from 1962 to 1973, Yale Bowl in 1973 and 1974, Shea Stadium in 1975, Giants Stadium from 1976 to 2009 and now Met Life Stadium. Frankly speaking, Giants Stadium was a brilliant facility for football and head and shoulders above the abomination that is Met Life Stadium.
We began to tailgate in the early ‘80s and although the cast of characters has changed and evolved, the energy, team loyalty and our joy has been an enormous factor for many of us to continue attending games. Even in bad years we persist. Few summer soldiers in this group. We persevere through the heat of September, the great football weather of October and most of November, but also in the rains of late fall and that hawk that blasts cold Canadian wind through the Meadowlands with a vengeance in December and, God willing, during the playoffs.
To be a fan also means struggling to return home. For reasons, too numerous to enumerate, the options available to cross the Hudson River have been reduced to only the George Washington Bridge. Traffic is a nightmare just to reach the bridge where we only face several bad alternatives to cross the Bronx and make our way to Long Island. At seventy-four, I concede my alpha male role as driver to Joe M, my long-time mate, contrarian and resident cardiologist.
Since 1990, my son and I have enjoyed multiple out-of-town trips. We have been to the homes of the Bills, Patriots, Steelers, Bengals, Bears, Packers, Buccaneers, Dolphins, Saints, Cardinals, Rams, Chiefs, Cowboys, Texans, Seahawks, Forty-Niners and Chargers.
My personal favorite was visiting Lambeau Field, the NFL’s version of Mecca. This trip was made special by including my two oldest grandsons, Drew and Matt.
The worst experience was in San Diego. We were a group of ten. Unfortunately, most of us became involved in a short-lived altercation with local Charger fans. (Two of our mates were absent having left to make a pit stop.) Security guards broke it up with the aid of a San Diego patrolman. It appeared we were going to get the worse of the blame when our two mates, Tom C. and James B. re-appeared not knowing what had happened. “Seeing them, I exclaimed to the cop: “Wait, wait, my attorney is here.” (James B.)
James spoke to the policeman then came over to me and said: “He is willing to let us go if we let him escort us out of the stadium right now.”
Aware of our peril, I announced to the group: “On the advice of counsel, we are going to get the f*** out of here right now.”
As we exited each one of us thanked the officer and shook his hand.