Big Blue Interrupted
This year should have been my 59th year of being a New York Football Giants season ticket holder. I purchased a single season ticket in 1962 for $37.50 at the team’s office then located in 10 Columbus Circle. I paid cash for my ticket and gave it to a woman who sat behind a window that resembled a teller’s cage. I recall that the hallway was lined with photos and paintings of famous Giants players, coaches and members of the Mara family, who owned the team since its founding in 1925.
My $37.50 paid for admission to seven home games at $5.00 each plus a $2.50 handling charge. That inaugural year was my most memorable football experience until 1986. In 1962, the Giants won the Eastern Division of the NFL and hosted the Championship Game in Yankee Stadium. The ticket cost $15 and Big Blue lost that game to the Green Bay Packers, 16 to 7 on the coldest day of my life.
The Giants repeated in 1963 but lost the Championship Game in Chicago to the Bears. Losing became a habit after that season and the Giants didn’t reach another championship until 1986 when they defeated the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XXI. Head coach, Bill Parcells, summed up the significance of that victory not just for the players, but also for we long-suffering fans by saying: “Men, never let anyone tell you that you can’t do it, because you did it.”
The Giants have since gone on to appear in four additional Super Bowls and win three of them. I attended two wins in SB-XXV and SB-XLII and one loss in SB-XXXV. Not too shabby.
As a senior fan, I joke when people ask me what it is like to be a fan that long. My standard line is to joke, “It has given me the opportunity to witness many years of lousy football.”
Truth be known, each opening day is a renewal of faith and friendship with tailgate buddies of the most diverse circumstances all who have the same commonality, Giants football. We are the proud, the faithful whose loyalty knows no limits.
From my perspective, I believe the three most important dates on the calendar are:
The day the NFL schedule is released that allows us to speculate on our chances for success.
That day in mid-summer when the season tickets arrive in the mail in all their glory.
And opening day when anything and everything is possible.
Covid-19 continues to turn the world upside down, Big Blue included. Usually, the team requires season ticket holders to pay for the upcoming season by May 1st. This year, the Giants extended that date first to June and then to July 1st.
The schedule was released on May 7th , but we accepted it cautiously.
Fast forward to the middle of June. I called the Giant’s ticket office and asked if that date would be extended? The woman who took my call explained: “I don’t know, but I understand that an e-mail will be sent out next week providing more information. If I were you, I wouldn’t do any thing until you receive that e-mail.”
It arrived Monday morning. Indeed, the payment date was extended to August 14, but it wasn’t until the third paragraph that ownership announced incredible news: “We are offering all season ticket members the ability to take a year off from buying their season tickets. If you decide to do this, you will have no obligation to pay for your season tickets this year.”
I was amazed by this stunning news and proud of Giants ownership for making such a generous and costly (for them) pre-emptive move. To the best of my knowledge, Big Blue was the first NFL team to make such a unselfish offer. But it didn’t shock me. The Mara organization has a history of treating their fans as a family.
In 1973, Mayor John V. Lindsay evicted the team from Yankee Stadium for having the audacity to announce that they were moving to a new stadium of their own in New Jersey. The mayor could have allowed the Giants to play all seven home games in Yankee Stadium before its reconstruction was due to begin. But as one of his deputy mayors told a reporter: “We are not going to give the Giants any favors. We are going to throw them out as soon as the Yankee season ends.”
The late Wellington Mara, then President and CEO of the team immediately announced that all season tickets would be suspended for as long as Big Blue was forced to play in the Yale Bowl in New Haven, Connecticut.
Now his son, John, and the head of their co-owning family, Jonathon Tisch, are showing genuine care and concern for their faithful fans.
I accepted the offer in short order relieving myself of all the anxiety of attending games in person. I will miss our tailgates and being there for live football, but I have no doubt that it’s for the best.
Thank you, Mister Mara and thank you, Mister Tisch. Like your fathers, before you, you are a class act.