Wednesday, February 06, 2008

NY Giants Receive Giant Sized Parade In NY...

Victory Parade

Photo: Uli Seit for The New York Times
Michael Strahan jumping on the podium and lifting his knees to his shoulders to demonstrate what he called “stomping you out.”

Giants Take Manhattan, and It Takes to Them

The Giants surprised even their most ardent fans with their Super Bowl victory. On Tuesday, the new N.F.L. champions were the ones left awestruck.

Two days after beating the Patriots, 17-14, the Giants were honored with a rousing, confetti-laced parade up Broadway in Lower Manhattan, stopped for a pep rally at City Hall, and had a homecoming party at Giants Stadium.

“I’ve had so many goose bumps in one week’s time, it feels like they’re normal, like they’re supposed to be there,” Coach Tom Coughlin said.

The Giants played all their postseason games away from home. Tuesday was their chance to officially bring the N.F.L. championship back to New York and New Jersey. During the parade, Coughlin, quarterback Eli Manning and defensive end Michael Strahan shared a float and took turns holding the Vince Lombardi trophy.

Manning, the most valuable player in the Super Bowl, was serenaded often with choruses of “M.V.P.!” Strahan, pondering retirement, was showered with requests for “One more year!”

“It’s very tempting,” he told the crowd at City Hall.

On a cool and damp day, with the tops of skyscrapers dipped into the low clouds, the Giants boarded red, white and blue floats that took them up Broadway, the Canyon of Heroes route that has welcomed everyone from Charles Lindbergh to soldiers to the Yankees and the Rangers — but never a football team.

The Giants won the Super Bowl after the 1986 and the 1990 seasons, too. There was no celebration the first time because Edward I. Koch, the mayor at the time, said that his city would not hold a parade for a team from New Jersey, where the Giants had moved a decade earlier. The second Super Bowl victory came only days after the start of the Gulf War, and a large celebration for a football team was deemed inappropriate.

There were no limitations to this party. Hundreds of thousands of fans, decked in the team’s colors and some with their faces painted, jammed sidewalks from the gutters to the storefronts. At intersections, like the one with Wall Street, the sea of smiling faces could be seen for two blocks or more. Silhouettes filled most of the office windows that could not open, and smiles, waving arms and overturned boxes of shredded paper popped out of the ones that could.

Strands of paper and toilet tissue stuck like icicles from window sills, flagpoles and street lights. Confetti turned the Canyon of Heroes into a deafening snow globe.

General Manager Jerry Reese, from Tiptonville, Tenn., laughed as he recalled previous parades he had attended. In his hometown, the Christmas parade had “one fire truck, a police car, a high school band and two floats.”

He added: “I’ve never seen anything like this before. It’s unbelievable.”

Many players held video cameras, aimed at the people who were aiming cameras right back at them.

“I felt like I could go out and play another game,” guard Chris Snee said. “So much energy, so much excitement. You can really see what it means to a city.”

The unofficial chant of the team — “Let’s go, Giants!” — echoed through the buildings. Also popular were many stabs at the Patriots, the 18-0 team that the Giants beat on Sunday.

“Eighteen and one!” was one popular chorus. So were more venomous ones aimed at Boston, which had celebrated five titles for the Red Sox and the Patriots since the last time New York was the site of a championship parade.

That was for the Yankees in 2000. The route, through Manhattan’s financial district, edges near the eastern flank of the World Trade Center site.

“I could not believe that that many people would come out,” said the Giants’ co-owner, John Mara. “To see them all dressed in blue, and to see the reaction of our players, to see how much they enjoyed it, that was the best part.”

One notable absentee was receiver Plaxico Burress, who caught the winning touchdown pass on Sunday with 35 seconds left. He attended the afternoon party at Giants Stadium, and said he did not go to the parade because he “was a little sore.”

Many fans held hand-scribbled signs, part of the short-hand postscript to an unexpected championship season. Promoting Manning for president was a popular idea. Some signs teased the Patriots — “18-Oh well” — or played off the spying scandal that has entangled them and their coach, Bill Belichick.

“Hey, Belichick, I hope you’re taping this,” one sign read.

At City Hall, several politicians — among them, Gov. Eliot Spitzer, Senator Charles Schumer and Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg — and Whoopi Goldberg gave short speeches that featured lots of exclamation points.

The Giants rode buses back under the Hudson River and to the Meadowlands. They did not expect to see Giants Stadium surrounded by cars, or one side of the lower bowl filled with vociferous fans.

“There’s one thing I realized, pulling into this parking lot,” Mara said, addressing the crowd while standing atop a stage set at the 50-yard line. “There’s no place like home.”

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