Giants head coach Brian Daboll, speaks to media during rookie...

Giants head coach Brian Daboll, speaks to media during rookie minicamp in East Rutherford, N.J., on May 14. Credit: Noah K. Murray

You may have noticed the Giants are big fans of the Rangers.

New Giants coach Brian Daboll has been to a number of home playoff games over the last few weeks, often shown on the video boards at Madison Square Garden revving up the crowd. Eli Manning and Justin Tuck have been spotted at recent Rangers games as well, usually sporting blue jerseys that do not have familiar Giants logos on them, and even newcomer Kayvon Thibodeaux, the Giants’ first-round draft pick in April, has had a chance to drop by for a game.

Daboll even cited the Rangers as an inspiration for the Giants and a “really good example” of the type of fight he wants to see from his football team earlier this month.

But the ties between the two franchises go back well beyond Daboll’s recent turn as the lucky charm at the Garden (the Rangers are now 5-0 in playoff games with him in attendance) and the excitement over this year’s playoff run. In fact, had it not been for some twists of fate and nearly century-old business decisions, the Giants might well have actually been called . . . the Rangers.

When new NFL president Joe Carr commissioned his friend Dr. Harry March to find someone who would back putting a new professional football franchise in New York City in the mid-1920s, essentially giving the fledgling league a foothold in the nation’s biggest market, the first person offered a chance at the venture was Tex Rickard. At the time, Rickard was the most successful boxing and sports promoter in the country, and it made sense that March would target such a big fish. And Rickard might have been hooked had his capital not been tied up in other ventures. Rickard was financing the construction of a new Madison Square Garden on Eighth Avenue between 49th and 50th Streets at the time and also was in the early stages of founding an NHL team in New York that would become the Rangers.

A few other high-profile wheeler-dealers were given the chance to drop $500 for the NFL charter, including Billy Gibson, who was the manager of boxer Gene Tunney. Gibson didn’t want anything to do with professional football — he’d been burned in an earlier attempt to put a team in New York in 1921 with a team that lasted just two games — but he was at that very time in the process of making a deal to cut someone in on Tunney’s takes. That someone was Tim Mara, and although the Tunney agreement was never finalized, Gibson mentioned Dr. March and the idea of an NFL team to Mara.

The New York Football Giants were born.

“I guess you could say that was fortuitous,” Giants co-owner John Mara told Newsday. “I’m just happy my grandfather was able to come up with the $500.”

Mara knew nothing about football and convinced Dr. March to serve as team secretary and then team president from the inaugural season of 1925 through 1933.

In 1926, a year after the Giants first took the field at the Polo Grounds, a new NHL team in New York hit the ice at the newly constructed Madison Square Garden. They were nicknamed “Tex’s Rangers” after Rickard. Pretty soon they became just the Rangers. 

Had Rickard not been busy building the Garden when approached by the NFL he might well have jumped at Dr. March’s offer. Tim Mara might never have been given the opportunity to buy that charter and there might have been a football team in 1925 dubbed “Tex’s Rangers” instead of the New York Giants. Who knows what path the history of New York professional sports would have followed in the 100 or so years since?

Instead of cheering for the Rangers on the ice these days, Daboll might have been coaching them on the field.

As it happened, John Mara just had one thing to add:

“Go Rangers!”

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