“Big Blue Wrecking Crew,” Jerry Barca’s book about the Giants’ rise to their first Super Bowl championship, comes at an opportune time.
With the Giants at 2-3 and at risk of a fifth consecutive non-playoff season, young fans might find it a comfort to look back to the last time they missed that many postseasons in a row – the bleak mid-to-late 1960s and ’70s – and know things could be worse.
The subtitle is “Smashmouth Football, a Little Bit of Crazy and the ’86 Super Bowl Champion New York Giants,” and all of the above is here to mark that team’s 30th anniversary, starring a guy who embodies “smashmouth” and “a little bit crazy” in Lawrence Taylor.
For fans of a certain age who recall that team and the long climb to building it, much in the book will be familiar. But the author combined archival research with a broad array of new interviews to provide a thorough review of that era.
Taylor was not among those interviewed, but those who were include everyone from current team president John Mara to former coach Bill Parcells to most key players, including Harry Carson, Phil Simms, George Martin, Leonard Marshall and the most elusive member of the team, former receiver Bobby (fourth-and-17) Johnson.
Former defensive coordinator Bill Belichick even weighs in, via email. “He was candid, and he is fond of the double exclamation point,” Barca writes in the author’s notes. Who knew?
One mistake Barca makes that is common to historical sports books is the overuse of play-by-play from long-ago games. But there is plenty of anecdotal material in his mostly tidy 300 or so pages as well.
Anyway, fans under 40 who do not remember the dark days might learn something here. And fans of all ages might want something to keep themselves warm at night late this autumn if the 2016 Giants do not find a path to the postseason light.