This is how we remember Mark Bavaro, dragging helpless tacklers down the field for extra yardage. Here, he is doing it against Denver in Super Bowl XXI. (Photo by George Rose/Getty Images)
From 1985-90 Bavaro was the embodiment of the toughness that defined New York Giants' football during the Bill Parcells' era.
He was an All-Pro in 1986 & 1987, caught a career-high 66 passes in 1986, caught 266 passes in six seasons with the Giants and scored 28 touchdowns.
Yet, the numbers don't really tell you about Bavaro. The images I have in my head of Bavaro dragging defenders after catching passes, pushing defenders out of the way for Giants' running backs and continuing to lug himself around the field and be productive on a badly-damaged knee are the things that tell you about the toughness of the man.
He rarely spoke to the media. To this day, though, he is one of my favorite players of all time. And, I believe, one of the most beloved Giants of all time.
Here is an excerpt about Bavaro from Lew Freedman's book 'New York Giants: The Complete Illustrated History.'
When the 6-feet-4 inches 245-pounds Mark Bavaro was a rookie tight end in 1985 after making his mark at Notre Dame, he let his muscular physique and his blocking do the talking. They spoke volumes and the fourth-round draft [choice] made an impact immediately with 37 catches.
As he grew more comfortable with the organization, everyone believed Bavaro would open up in the locker room. He never did. He was often described as the strong, silent type who did all of his talking on the field, but he spoke up to protest a nickname. "I don't like to be called Rambo," Bavaro said. He also added that he didn't like reporters. Bavaro's 66 catches his second season made him a star.
Quarterback Phil Simms loved throwing to Bavaro and admired his bullish methods downfield after the catch. Bavaro's style was on display during an exhibition game against the Pittsburgh Steelers after Simms zipped a pass to him.
"I threw that pass to him when I saw the blitz coming," Simms said. "I knew it was a touchdown because I knew he had only one guy to beat and I knew he'd run that guy over. And he did. You come to expect certain things of Mark."
Other Notables Who Wore No. 89
- Fred Dryer (DE, 1969-71)
- Amani Toomer (WR, 1996-97): Before switching to the No. 81 jersey we remember.