Leonard Marshall arrived in New York as a second-round draft pick in 1983, just in time to witness some of the bad times for the Giants.
It’s what made the good ones so special.
The defensive lineman, who was inducted into the Giants’ Ring of Honor on Monday night, drew parallels between the 3-12-1 team he played for as a rookie and the most recent state of the organization. While these Giants started their season with two straight wins before facing the Cowboys, the franchise has spent most of the past decade among the dregs of the league. It is a pall similar to the one Marshall experienced when he came to the organization, one that was lifted quickly with a Super Bowl title just three seasons later.
Marshall said there are lessons that can be passed from one generation to the next as this crop of Giants tries to similarly resurrect the pride of the 98-year-old franchise.
“You don’t win by just winning,” he told the 2022 players. “You win because you lost, and you recovered, and you remembered what it felt like. So whenever you take an ‘L,’ let that ‘L’ become a ‘W’ . . . Bill Parcells always talked about process. Coach [Brian] Daboll is always going to talk about process. [General manager] Joe Schoen is always going to talk about process.”
Not all of the inductees on Monday had similar experiences. Ottis Anderson was traded to the Giants in the middle of the 1986 season. Rodney Hampton was drafted in 1990, the year the Giants of that era won their second Super Bowl.
Those three were joined by Joe Morris (1982-89) as Super Bowl-era players inducted on Monday. The Giants also posthumously inducted Jimmy Patton and Kyle Rote, who were members of the 1956 NFL championship team, and current senior vice president of medical services Ronnie Barnes, who has served the team for 47 seasons.
Marshall noted that when he was selected by the Giants, he had little idea that it would result in a lifelong relationship.
“I had no idea of the support and the family that I was walking into,” he said. “I got a chance to be a part of something special. I played with two Hall of Fame linebackers in Lawrence Taylor and Harry Carson and the rest of these guys. And I tell you right now today: We are as tight today as we were as players.”
Winning does that.
Marshall added one last bit of advice for the current players: “Remember this moment, what you’re going through, the process, and what it takes to do it.”