| The city of New York was introduced to professional football on the same day that the city was introduced to the New York Giants. It was a clear sunny October afternoon in 1925 when the Giants took the field to play against the Frankford Yellow Jackets. The Giants lost their home debut by the score of 14-0 to lower their record to 0-3 after opening with two losses on the road. But more importantly, the New York Giants and professional football had arrived. |
Tim Mara, a bookmaker (legal at the time) and successful businessman and promoter, purchased the team for a reported $500. In an era when professional football was in the shadows of baseball, boxing and college football, and professional football teams hailed from the towns of Dayton, Rochester and Columbus, league officials believed that a team in a large market such as New York was exactly what was needed to keep pro football alive. The Giants struggled financially through the first decade but managed to win their first title in only their third season, going 11-1-1 in 1927. With the fall of the Stock Market and the Depression that followed, the 1930s were not off to a great start. Tim Mara suffered substantial losses during the crash that threatened the existence of the Giants. With that fear in mind, Tim Mara handed control of the franchise over to his two sons, Jack Mara, who was twenty-two, and Wellington, who was fourteen. Wellington Mara became the youngest owner of a football team and began his storied career as a major player in the Giants organization.
In 1934 the Giants beat the Chicago Bears, 30-13, in nine-degree temperatures at the Polo Grounds in a game that has become famous as the "Sneakers Game." With the Giants trailing 10-3 at the half, head coach Steve Owen provided his squad with basketball shoes to increase traction on the icy turf. The team responded with four touchdowns in the second half to turn the game into a Giants rout.
If there ever were a time for the National Football League and the New York Giants to fold, it would have come during the years of World War II. The NFL decided to continue during the war despite losing players to military service. Many of the players that stayed behind were older players that were past their prime. Low attendance forced some teams to fold and other teams like the Philadelphia Eagles and the Pittsburgh Steelers to merge into one team. Fortunately, the New York Giants were able to survive the war years and managed to reach three NFL championship games during the 1940s.
The 1950s were filled with Giants players that would become household names and help bring football to a playing field equal to other spectator sports. With the growing interest in professional football, the Giants continued to make strides to attract the most talented players from the college level. By the time the decade was over, Kyle Rote, Eddie Price, Rosie Brown, Frank Gifford, Sam Huff and Tom Landry would send the Giants and professional football into a new era.
The 1960s marked a decade of change for the Giants. Since they were founded in 1925, the Giants had been a talented team filled with success. The 1960s marked a turning point for our country as well as the Giants. After reaching the title games of 1961, 1962, and 1963 the Giants were hit with injuries and a series of retirements to key players that sent the team through a period of mediocrity.
The Giants in the 1970s could best be described as a team in transition. The team called four different stadiums home, played in three different states, and did not play in one postseason game. Teams like the Green Bay Packers, Chicago Bears, and Giants, so strong in the NFL's formative years, gave way to new powers like Dallas, Pittsburgh and Minnesota.
The Giants ended almost two decades of losing with one of their most prosperous decades in the 1980s. After finishing in last place or next-to-last eight times in the 1970s, the Giants appeared in three wild card games and won two NFC East division titles. Through the draft and key trades, the Giants slowly built a winning program. By 1986 the championship pieces fit together and the team was back on top with their first Super Bowl appearance and their first world championship since 1956.
The Giants were back on top of the NFL in 1990, winning their second Super Bowl in a dramatic 20-19 win over the Buffalo Bills. The next two years were filled with coaching changes, quarterback controversies, and a step back into the middle of the pack of the National Football League. In February, 1991, less than a month after winning their second Super Bowl, it was announced that after 66 years of ownership by the Mara family, a 50% interest in the club had been sold to Preston Robert Tisch by Tim Mara. A native of New York City and a lifelong Giants fan, Tisch is one of the country's most successful businessmen. Dan Reeves was hired as coach before the start of the 1993 season, and he helped bring the Giants back into Super Bowl contention. The Giants finished their first season under Reeves tied with the Detroit Lions for the best turnaround in football, going from 6-10 to 11-5. Reeves was named the NFL Coach of the Year by the Associated Press and others for his efforts.
On January 15, 1997, a new chapter in Giants history began when Jim Fassel was named the 15th head coach. In the first season under Fassel’s leadership, the Giants captured the NFC East Championship with a 10-5-1 record. The Giants finished the 1997 season with a 7-0-1 Division record to become the first team ever to go undefeated in NFC East Division play. The Giants fell short of a playoff berth in 1998 after overcoming a 3-7 start to finish with an 8-8 record.
The Giants were 7-9 in 2000. In 2000, the Giants returned to the upper echelon of the NFL. They won the NFC East title and earned home field advantage throughout the playoffs with a 12-4 regular season record. The Giants then beat Philadelphia in the divisional playoffs and routed Minnesota, 41-0, in the NFC Championship Game to advance to the Super Bowl for the third time. But they failed to win the game for the first time, falling to the Baltimore Ravens. The Giants slipped to 7-9 in 2001, losing their last two games to fall out of playoff contention.
In 2002, the Giants won their final four regular season games, including an overtime thriller in the regular season finale against Philadelphia, to clinch a wild card playoff berth. In the third period of the postseason game in San Francisco, the Giants led the 49ers, 38-14. But San Francisco rallied for a 39-38 victory.
Because of their impressive stretch run, the Giants began the 2003 season with high hopes. At midseason, they were in the thick of the playoff race with a 4-4 record. But a second-half collapse against Atlanta set the tone for an eight-game, season-ending losing streak. With two games remaining, the Giants announced that Fassel would not return. On Jan. 6, 2004, Tom Coughlin, a highly-successful head coach at Boston College and with the Jacksonville Jaguars, and a former Giants assistant, was hired as the 16th head coach in Giants history.
In the 2004 NFL Draft, the Giants traded for quarterback Eli Manning, who started the final seven games of his rookie season. The Giants were 6-10 in Coughlin’s first year at the helm. In 2005, Manning started every game and the Giants were 11-5 and earned their first playoff berth since 2002 and their first NFC East championship since 2000. The first-place finish was an NFL-record 21st in franchise history. Five Giants were elected to the Pro Bowl, the team’s largest contingent since the 1990 Super Bowl champions sent seven. The group was led by running back Tiki Barber, who was second in the NFL in rushing with a team-record 1,860 yards. Barber’s 2,390 total yards were the second-highest total in league history.