Bob Glauber during a Giants and Jets joints practice in East...

Bob Glauber during a Giants and Jets joints practice in East Rutherford, N.J., on Aug. 25. Credit: Noah K. Murray

The phone call came shortly before the Giants’ game against the Cardinals at Giants Stadium on Dec. 10, 1978. My reaction was a mixture of excitement and abject terror.

Our Giants beat writer at Gannett Westchester-Rockland Newspapers was ill and couldn’t cover the game, so I was asked to fill in. The answer was an immediate yes, of course, but the insides of a 22-year-old sportswriter trying to make his way in the business were churning. Having covered only high school football games for the old Tarrytown Daily News, for me, the idea of covering an NFL game was terrifying.

Little did I know it would be one of the most transformative games in the history of the Giants’ franchise. Or that it would turn out to be the first of close to a thousand NFL games I’d end up covering in a career of more than four decades that ends today with my retirement.

Three weeks after the Giants had hit rock bottom with “The Fumble,” when future Jets coach Herman Edwards scooped up a botched handoff exchange between Joe Pisarcik and Larry Csonka and returned it for the winning score in the final seconds of a 19-17 loss, the Giants faced the Cardinals.

Fans were livid. Some of them burned their tickets before the game. Others expressed their disgust by screaming at the coaches and players. Some directed their ire at team owner Wellington Mara, who had presided over a long era of frustration. A Newark furniture dealer named Morris Spielberg commissioned a private plane to fly a banner over the stadium that said, “15 Years of Lousy Football. We’ve Had Enough.”

It is a moment that is still written about.

For a reporter just trying to tread water covering his first game, it was jarring. And overwhelming.

The Giants had actually won, 17-0, as Doug Kotar ran for 118 yards and unheralded quarterback Randy Dean threw a touchdown pass. Afterward, it was a chaotic and tense scene in a windowless concrete meeting room where coach John McVay, who had taken over as interim coach that season after Bill Arnsparger was fired, was peppered with questions.

None of them were about the game. All of the inquiries were about the plane, the burned tickets and the burned-out husk of a team the Giants had become.

But through the chaos of the moment, something stood out to that young reporter: It was the dignified manner in which McVay handled himself.

Here was a man who knew his head-coaching career was ending, yet who owned up to what had happened and who took full responsibility for it all despite the actions of others who had failed him.

Almost half a century later, that memory of McVay’s poise remains vivid. And the fact that he eventually would remake his football life and build one of the greatest dynasties of all time alongside Bill Walsh only underscored the class and inner strength he showed all those years ago. That he would help begin this writer’s journey, well, that was a story that took years to tie together.

ISLE BE SEEING YOU

Newsday columnist Bob Glauber, who was awarded the Pro Football...

Newsday columnist Bob Glauber, who was awarded the Pro Football Writers of America's Bill Nunn Jr. Award. Credit: Andi Glauber

It would be seven years until the next visit to a football press room, and this one would be a more permanent stop. Less than two months after marrying my beautiful wife, Jutta, and after having covered many other sports at Gannett — including all four of the Islanders’ Stanley Cup playoff runs — it was on to the 1985 Giants.

The Giants had been reconstituted under general manager George Young and his Jersey tough guy coach, Bill Parcells.

Parcells narrowly survived a 3-12-1 rookie season in 1983 and got the Giants to the playoffs in 1984. Now they were ready to become Super Bowl contenders. It was a hopeful time for a franchise that had been adrift for nearly two decades, and it was a perfect time for a sportswriter to be covering a team filled with so much talent and so many colorful personalities.

Lawrence Taylor. Phil Simms. Harry Carson. Joe Morris. Carl Banks. Mark Bavaro. Leonard Marshall. An offensive line dubbed “The Suburbanites” by Parcells because of their strong family ties and even-keeled, almost boring, temperaments.

They had made it to the second round of the playoffs in ’84 before losing to Walsh and McVay, the genius coach’s trusty sidekick, who had become the team’s de facto general manager and one of the league’s most respected executives. And now they looked ready to take the next step.

Behind the scenes, it was a fascinating tableau from which to tell the story of that season. Access for journalists was exceptional; we got to see every minute of every practice, spend unlimited time in the locker room for interviews, walk players to their cars after practices and games to talk to them, and get to know the coaches through hours of conversation.

How great was it? Well, back then, Bill Belichick was the team’s virtually unknown defensive coordinator, and he’d walk through the locker room and easily start up a conversation, diagraming plays in your notebook, asking about your job and letting you get a sense of his thinking as a coach.

Phone calls to Simms, Morris, Carson, Young and others at their homes during the season often would last an hour, just shooting the breeze about football and family. I still remember Wellington Mara’s home phone number. He always picked up.

You got to know people — really know people. And it was the readers who benefited from that kind of institutional knowledge because we could provide the insight culled from such meaningful interactions. There was no better preparation for a long career covering such a fascinating sport.

It would be a 37-year ride for this football writer — the last 33 at Newsday and the last 30 as the newspaper’s NFL columnist — and it has been as rewarding and challenging a journey as anyone could have ever asked. And to cover the sport alongside so many great colleagues at Newsday and exceptional journalists at other outlets around the country . . . well, there really is no greater fulfillment than that.

A TEAM EFFORT

Bob Glauber, right, covered his last football practice for Newsday on...

Bob Glauber, right, covered his last football practice for Newsday on Thursday, Aug. 25, 2022. In this photo, Glauber chats with Ethan Greenberg (left) and Eric Allen (center), Jets reporters for the team's digital site. Credit: Judy Battista

As I complete this assignment as a full-time football journalist (there may be a few more appearances from time to time), I do so with gratitude and appreciation to the readers, because you are the ones who truly matter. You are the ones who read our stories and columns about a sport that has grown exponentially in the last half-century. To have had the privilege of telling stories and delivering opinions all these years, to be able to humanize the players and coaches you watch on television and cheer (and boo) from the stands, has been the greatest privilege of all.

“Thank you” doesn’t do justice, but those words will have to do.

To be able to tell those stories for Newsday readers has been the honor of a lifetime. This has been home since 1989, and there has been no better place to work. The staff that sports editor Hank Winnicki presides over is as good as there is in the country, with dedicated and talented writers and exceptional editors who bring information and insight to our readers.

There is no better steward than Newsday Media Group owner Patrick Dolan, who gives his journalists the resources, the support and the freedom to do our jobs and bring you the best possible product on a daily basis.

And please join me in celebrating the contributions of every Newsday football writer I’ve had the privilege of working alongside: Tom Rock, Neil Best, Al Iannazzone, Kimberley Martin, Rich Cimini, Greg Logan, George Willis, Bob Herzog, Barbara Barker, Laura Albanese, Anthony Rieber, Brian Heyman, Rod Boone, Richard Oliver, Ken Berger, Arthur Staple and Erik Boland. And an honorary shout-out to former Newsday writer Judy Battista.

THE MEMORIES?

Good Lord, so many of them:

  • Watching nearly every game played by the greatest defensive player in NFL history. Lawrence Taylor was incredible, especially when you understood the demons of substance abuse he couldn’t fully overcome during his career.
  • Taylor breaking Joe Theismann’s leg and being reduced to tears. It was my first Monday night assignment, and it was unforgettable. It also was poignant to speak to Theismann more than 30 years later and hear him say it was the best thing that ever happened to him because for the first time in his life, he learned about humility.
  • Watching Vinny Testaverde win a playoff game in Cleveland for Belichick’s Browns against Parcells’ Patriots on New Year’s Day in 1995. After it was over, he cradled the ball and went to one knee, bowing his head for several seconds, before revealing that he was thinking about his father, Al, who couldn’t be there because of a heart condition. Writing a column and calling Al the next day and hearing him say, “You got me.” Al wasn’t always fond of Newsday when his son was criticized, but this time he wept while reading how his son devoted the win to him.
  • Bavaro carrying a half-dozen 49ers defenders on his back as he willed the Giants to victory in a 1986 game at Candlestick Park that helped spark their Super Bowl run. And trying to write on deadline next to a panicked Michael Eisen of the Star-Ledger, whose laptop was slowly dying because he’d spilled apple juice on it. We called him “Motts” after that.
  • Seeing tears well in Jeff Hostetler’s eyes as he recounted a story from just months after he’d helped the Giants win Super Bowl XXV. Hostetler was walking his dog one night and strolled over to where a high school football game was being played. A young fan in the stands recognized him and yelled, “Hostetler, you suck!”
  • Eli Manning’s desperation throw to David Tyree that set the stage for one of the biggest playoff upsets ever. And then Manning-to-Manningham four years later in Tom Coughlin’s second win over Belichick’s Patriots.
  • Walking with Tom Brady to the Patriots’ locker room after a training camp practice and asking if he’d ever thought about retirement. He looked over and simply said, “What the hell else would I do?” He was 36 at the time.
  • Rex Ryan’s resuscitation of the Jets, a coaching flamboyance that delivered everything but a championship ring.
  • The memories for football players are not always about the game. Injuries take a toll, and the unique challenges of life after football are daunting. Harry Carson and so many others along the way provided an unvarnished look at the difficulty in dealing with those struggles. Their willingness to share their vulnerabilities in a sport in which toughness and discipline are demanded offered truly revealing insights into what players go through and what fans need to know about what they endure.
  • It was a privilege to spend three seasons at the helm of the Pro Football Writers of America, a group whose talent and dedication are off the charts. Humbled to help this great organization and will do whatever I can moving forward.
  • It is an honor to be a Hall of Fame selector, a responsibility I take with all the seriousness it deserves.
  • There's nothing like being called a horse(bleep) reporter by Parcells. You should try it. I did in 1987 when he didn't like a piece I'd written about Taylor. But in the 35 years since he used that description, I got to know and appreciate one of the most fascinating, complicated and successful men in the game. There's no one else like him.

THE END ZONE

And the last game of all . . .

As I sat at Los Angeles International Airport the day after the Rams’ 23-20 win over the Bengals in Super Bowl LVI at SoFi Stadium in February and reflected on a career that offered so much, it hit me:

The coach of the Giants in the first NFL game I ever covered was John McVay. The coach of the last game I ever covered was his grandson, Sean McVay, winning the Super Bowl.

The tears came. The full-circle moment for this football writer was complete.

Thank you all so much for following along. It has been an honor.