Lifetime New York Giants fan Tom Daniels of Lindenhurst

Lifetime New York Giants fan Tom Daniels of Lindenhurst Credit: Daniels family

When I was growing up on Long Island in the 1960s, New York Giants home games were often blacked out in the New York City TV market to protect stadium ticket sales.

Desperate to see games, some Giants fans on Long Island traveled beyond the 75-mile blackout radius and rented a TV-equipped hotel room, or visited relatives on the North Shore in hopes of getting a sketchy signal from New England. These fuzzy images looked like the games were played in blinding black and white blizzards.

At my brother Billy's house in Medford, the audio was also fuzzy, so we'd turn on the radio for play-by-play from Marty Glickman, one of the great sports announcers.

Other times I listened to Glickman in the bedroom of our house on North Erie Avenue in Lindenhurst. I always had my leather football in my hands as I practiced diving into the "end zone." This violence to my bed caused the underside slats to slide. The mattress would fall to the floor with a giant bang.

"What the hell is going on up there!" my dad would shout.

Uh-oh, illegal procedure.

After the game I would tee up the football in front of our house and kick field goals over the utility wires. If the ball hit the wires -- uh-oh, again -- it would mess up the TV picture and earn another rebuke from Dad.

Even in the late '60s, when the Giants struggled year after year, tickets were hard to get. But we got lucky. My brother-in-law Joe got them from a friend at the school where he worked in Commack. The Giants played at Yankee Stadium and we sat in the end zone (normally leftfield). We usually went with my older brothers Billy and Chuck, my brothers-in-law Joe and Al, and Chuck's friend Richie. In high school then, I felt like a big-timer.

I saw Jim Brown, Gale Sayers, Sam Huff, Roosevelt Brown and many more future Hall of Famers. We followed them to the Yale Bowl (1973-74), Shea Stadium (1975) and New Jersey (1976 on). We lost the tickets when their original holder decided against sharing them -- just as the Giants started to win more than they lost.

The best part of being a Giants fan has been watching games with my mom and dad and 11 siblings, and even better today, with my two sons. For the Super Bowl, we'll be at my sister's house in Lindenhurst. Rita and Joe's place has been the center of our Giants gatherings for years. We get there early to get the "yapping" done. Joe has converted his garage into a room for people who would rather visit than watch the game. The rest of us yell at the TV in the living room, jump up for high fives after touchdowns and holler at the announcers for being partial to the other team.

 

During the Giants' struggles this season, I never expected the team to make it to the Super Bowl. The game should be a beauty. As with all big Giants games, I will wear my No. 53 jersey in honor of Harry Carson, the great linebacker of the 1970s and '80s, a man I admire today for his work to help ailing former players. Fifteen of us in the Daniels clan will be around the TV screaming and yelling, watching a team we have loved for decades. I wouldn't want to be anywhere else. Go Big Blue!

Reader Tom Daniels lives in Lindenhurst.