The New York Giants started playing football in 1925. Tim Mara founded the team with just a $500 investment. The bookmaker and promoter explained his business decision by saying, "an exclusive franchise for anything in New York is worth $500."
The team is officially called the New York Football Giants in order to avoid confusion with Major League Baseball’s San Francisco Giants who used to play in New York City. The Football Giants have become one of the most successful and storied franchises in all of the NFL.
The Giants have won ten conference championships, four NFL Championships, and three Super Bowls. The team has reached the playoffs 30 times. They are one of only three NFL franchises that have won more than 600 games.
As of 2008, the Giants have put 15 of their own into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, players like Red Badgro, Arnie Herber, Tuffy Leemans, Rosey Brown, Mel Hein, Sam Huff and Harry Carson.
Another Giants player in the hall of fame is quarterback Y.A. Tittle. The Texan joined the Giants in 1961 and led them to three straight Eastern Division titles. Unfortunately, Tittle never won an NFL Championship but he did win two NFL MVP awards, made the Pro Bowl seven times and was selected to three All-Pro teams.
Tittle finished his career with 28,339 yards passing and 242 touchdowns. He was the first NFL quarterback to string together consecutive seasons with 30 or more touchdown passes. In 1963, he set an NFL record for most touchdown passes in a season with 36. That record stood until 1984 when Dan Marino threw for 48.
Our next great Giants player is better known today as the husband of Kathy Lee. Before that he was known for his work on ABC’s Monday Night Football. Long before that, he was having a hall of fame career as a halfback for the New York Football Giants. Frank Gifford joined the team in 1952 and spent all 12 of his seasons with the franchise. During his tenure, Gifford earned eight Pro Bowl appearances, six All-Pro selections and the 1956 NFL MVP Award. Although a running back, Gifford was an extremely versatile player. He gained 3,609 yards on the ground, had 367 receptions for 5,434 yards and threw for another 823. He finished his career with 77 touchdowns.
However, the greatest Giant of them all was known by the initials L.T. Those letters stood for Lawrence Taylor and he completely changed the way the game of football was played.
Drafted in 1981 by the Giants, Taylor made such an immediate impact that even before he played a regular season game players, coaches, and the media were heralding his greatness. Taylor didn’t let them down. With his strength and speed, L.T. would go on to win both the Defensive Rookie of the Year and the Defensive Player of the Year in 1981. Taylor would win the Defensive Player of Year again in 1982 and 1986. Also in 1986, Taylor was unanimously chosen as league MVP (only the second defensive player to win the award and the first to win it unanimously). When it was all said and done Taylor was selected to ten Pro Bowls, and named to nine All-Pro first-teams. He amassed 132 career sacks and snatched 9 interceptions. Taylor was inducted to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1999. Widely thought of as the greatest defensive player of all-time, Taylor changed the way offenses blocked blitzing linebackers and the way defenses, especially the linebackers, rushed the quarterback.
One of Taylor’s most memorable moments was also one of the most tragic. In 1985, during a Monday Football Game against the Washington Redskins, Taylor sacked quarterback Joe Theismann and broke his leg.
Taylor immediately called to the bench for help as it was obvious that Theismann had a serious compound fracture. Even though Theismann would never play football again, he never blamed Taylor for his injury and the two have become close friends. Sadly, Taylor had a substance abuse problem that resulted in a suspension to start the 1988 season. After his football career was over, his drug addiction resulted in legal problems as well as embarrassment and a loss of respect. His exploits have been well documented in his autobiography and in several well-publicized interviews. Taylor has been clean since 1998.
Taylor’s head coach for most of his career was the legendary “Big Tuna,” future hall of famer, Bill Parcells. Parcells took over the reins in 1983 but had a disastrous 3-12-1 season.
One of the first decisions made by Parcells was to bench quarterback Phil Simms. The former first rounder out of Morehead State would one day have his number retired by the franchise and complete 23 of 25 passes in Super Bowl XXI.
In 1984, Parcells reinstated Simms, who was finally healthy after several injury plagued seasons. With Simms under center and Taylor causing all kinds of havoc on defense, Parcells coached the team to back-to-back playoff appearances.
Then in 1986, Parcells led the New York Giants to a franchise best 14-2 record and a 39-20 victory over the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XXI. At the game’s conclusion, Parcells became the first coach doused with Gatorade. It’s now a football tradition to soak the head coach after any big win.
The Giants would return to the Super Bowl at the end of the 1990 season. Parcells navigated the team through the NFC playoffs and Super Bowl XXV with backup quarterback Jeff Hostetler and 33-year old running back Ottis Anderson. Parcels and the Giants defeated the Buffalos Bills 20-19 in one of the most exciting Super Bowls in NFL history.
Parcells retired from the Giants after the season citing health reason although he would return to coaching three more times. During his eight seasons with the Giants, Parcells won three division titles, 1986 Coach of Year Award, and was 8-3 in the playoffs. As coach of the Giants Parcells managed only two losing season. As you might imagine for a team that’s been in the NFL for over 80 years, the Giants have played in several important and historic games.
The Giants first game took place on October 4th, 1925 in New Britain Connecticut against All New Britain—needless to say that team is no longer around. The Giants defeated New Britain 26-0 in front of a crowd of 10,000.
The Giants were a good football team in their inaugural season but the franchise was losing money. There were just too many things to do in New York and while it may be hard for us to imagine now, back in the 1920’s professional football was not very popular.
Fortunately for the cash-strapped Giants, Red Grange and the Chicago Bears rolled into the Big Apple and attracted nearly 75,000 fans to the Polo Grounds. Legend has it that an additional 20,000 fans were turned away at the gate. The big draw was the financial boost the Giants needed. In retrospect, Grange’s visit probably saved the franchise from folding.
In 1930, college football was not only more popular than the pro game, but collegiate teams were thought superior to their NFL counterparts. In December of that year, the Giants defeated a Notre Dame All-Star team coached by Knute Rockne and featuring the Four Horsemen. The Giants’ watershed victory helped establish the legitimacy of professional football. The game also raised $100,000 for New York homeless.
The Giants were awarded the 1927 NFL Championship (for a while the NFL chose a champion like college football) but they won their first “championship game” in 1934. It’s famously called “The Sneakers Game.” With a frozen Polo Grounds field, the Giants wore borrowed sneakers (for better traction) and used the extra grip to defeat the slipping and sliding Chicago Bears 30-13.
In the 1958 NFL Championship Game, the Giants battled the Baltimore Colts in what is now known as “The Greatest Game Ever Played.” The Giants eventually lost the game in overtime, 23-17, but their efforts did not go unnoticed. The contest is often credited with popularizing the sport of football as 45 million people watch the NFL’s first overtime game on television.
On the sidelines for the Giants that day, helping head coach Jim Lee Howell, were offensive coordinator Vince Lombardi and defensive coordinator Tom Landry. In total, there were 15 other future members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame in the stadium that day.
The 1958 Championship Game was in the middle of a very successful era for the Giants. From 1956 to 1963, the Giants won a NFL Championship while playing in six championship games. However, from 1964 to 1980 the Giants failed to make the playoffs even once.
The absolute low-light of this drought was the infamous “Miracle at the Meadowlands.” With the game seemingly wrapped up, and the Philadelphia Eagles without a timeout, all the Giants had to do was kneel down with the ball one last time.
However, Giants quarterback Joe Pisarcik tried to hand the ball to fullback Larry Csonka but he fumbled. Future NFL head coach Herman Edwards picked up the ball and ran 26 yards for the game-winning touchdown. Suffice to say New York Giants fans were not very happy about the loss.
Fans were very happy about this victory. The Giants were the third biggest underdog (in terms of betting line) in Super Bowl history. No one thought the Giants, despite having won three road playoff games to reach Super Bowl XLII, could pull off the upset and defeat the 18-0 New England Patriots.
The week leading up to the game, Giants receiver Plaxico Burress predicted his team would win 20-17. In response, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady said, “he thinks they are only going to hold us to seventeen points?”
Brady was right; the Giants defense didn’t hold the Patriots to 17 points. They held them to 14.
Giants wide receiver David Tyree caught a ball by pinning it to his helmet on a crucial 3rd-and-5 play with 1:15 left in the fourth quarter. Quarterback Eli Manning then threw a touchdown pass to Burress to give the Giants a 17-14 lead. The Pats had 29 seconds left to mount a drive but failed to even pick up a first down.
The Giants shocked the world, won their third Super Bowl and ruined the Patriots perfect season bid.
The Giants have fierce rivalries with the Dallas Cowboys, the Philadelphia Eagles and the Washington Redskins. These four NFC East foes play each other twice a year.
Currently the team plays in Met Life Stadium which is located in East Rutherford, New Jersey. For 30 years, starting in 1925, the Giants played at the Polo Grounds. In 1956, they moved to Yankee Stadium and stayed there until 1973. As Yankee Stadium underwent renovations, the Giants bounced around for three years playing in both Yale Bowl and Shea Stadium before moving into Giants Stadium.
Mara’s initial $500 investment to start a football team in New York City proved to be a fairly profitable business venture. The New York Football Giants are now estimated to be worth $974 million. They are the eighth most valuable team in the NFL.