Jay Bromley has noticed a few things about Jason Pierre-Paul during his first week with the Giants.
"He's an amazing football player," the third-round pick said of spending time with the fifth-year pro who is now one of the leaders of the defensive line room. "He's a cool dude. He's a big guy."
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But then Bromley paused and giggled, something he's been doing a lot of since he was drafted by his hometown team and became part of a unit that he grew up watching, rooting for and idolizing. While he was growing up in Queens and playing at Flushing High School and then Syracuse, those Giants defensive linemen always seemed so much larger than life.
Bromley's perspective has changed a bit, and so he edits his initial description of Pierre-Paul.
"He's probably not as big as you thought he was," the effervescent defensive tackle said.
From where Bromley stood just a few years ago - and going back even further to his earliest moments of life - it's easy to understand why the Giants were such giants. Now, he is one of them, with both a capital and lower-case G. The 6-4, 307-pounder was selected with the 74th overall pick, the first defensive player drafted by the Giants earlier this month, just a day before he became the first member of his family to graduate from college. His humble beginnings, though, are the stuff of books and movies.
"It's really like 'The Blind Side' story," said his Long Island-based agent, Alan Herman, referencing the tale of Michael Oher who went from homeless teen to NFL lineman. "He's really determined to succeed."
"Jay Bromley has been an underdog his whole life, so he is going to come in here and you are going to have to kill him to get him off the field," Giants vice president of player evaluation Marc Ross said. "There is nothing to deter that guy with what he has been through. That shows with how he plays. It's great when the best asset for a player is determination and desire, and that is Jay Bromley."
Bromley was a crack baby, born addicted to the drug. He was abandoned by his biological mother shortly after his birth. Before he had turned a year old, his father, a pimp, was charged with beating and murdering one of his prostitutes. James Jones was convicted of first-degree manslaughter and unlawful imprisonment.
Yet Bromley is thankful for what he had and not what he lacked. He doesn't dwell on the crime and rodents and violence that surrounded him through his formative years. And most of all, he avoids comparing sob stories with the most famous one in football.
"I did see the movie," Bromley said. "Me being me, I wouldn't call my story as bad as 'The Blind Side.' Even though I wasn't raised by my biological parents and lived in the 'hood, it wasn't always bad. I can't sit there and say that. I had some loving parents and sisters that did the best they could and I appreciated that."
He was raised in Jamaica, Queens, by his aunt and uncle - whom he calls his mom and dad -- and a grandmother who passed away when he was 13 and about to enter high school. That was when he first played organized football. It was also when he wanted to stop playing it.
"It was tough," he said. "I was a little chubby kid. Running around was tough, the coaches were pushing me hard. I was like 'Man, this is something I'm not used to.' Thank God I stayed with it."
Had he not?
"A lot of my friends did who didn't play football and did play football, they got drawn into the streets," he said. "It probably wouldn't have been a good situation."
Football wasn't an immediate salvation. Bromley received just one scholarship offer, and it was from a school he knew almost nothing about. He went to Syracuse determined to work his way into prominence and after two developmental seasons was just about ready to emerge in 2012 as a junior. Injuries slowed that progress, but not enough to cover all of the possibilities. "I got hurt twice that year," he said. "It set me back as far as production-wise but, I felt like I showed flashes of what I could do."
As a senior, he had 10 sacks and 14.5 tackles behind the line of scrimmage.
"Every time I watched Syracuse play he was putting pressure on the quarterback," Herman said. "That's exactly what NFL teams are looking for."
It's what the Giants have been known for.
"The defensive line, that's why I love the Giants," Bromley said. "The defensive line back with Osi [Umenyiora] and [Michael] Strahan and it's like, 'Man, I grew up watching that.' When they beat the Patriots in the Super Bowl with the sacks they got and with the pressure, it's just so exciting because I love to sack the quarterback and it's like, that's what they do."
Now it's what he'll be doing, too.
"All of a sudden you're in the same room with the people you looked up to," Bromley said. "And it's like, Wow!"