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'Larry Soprano' Shares His Story, And It Is A Good One

Today's fan essay comes from 'Larry Soprano'. It is a great story that summarizes the familial nature of being a fan of the New York Giants. Thanks to Larry for shairng

"Football is like life - it requires perseverance, self-denial, hard work, sacrifice, dedication and respect for authority." - Vince Lombardi

I am a third generation New York Giants fan. My grandfather was a second generation Italian American born in the Bronx but moved to Northern New Jersey when the family's bootlegging operation grew too big for their small apartment. He played high school football before he enlisted in the Army during World War II. He told me he and his brother used to go to the games at the Polo Grounds before he left for the war. He continued to go when he returned. He raised my father a Giants fan.

My father was born in the '50s during the pinnacle of the Giants success. By the time he was old enough to enjoy the games, the team was on the downturn. My grandfather still took him to games and they continued to support the team despite their lack of success. When the Cowboys and Steelers were getting the most exposure and local fans were re-aligning their allegiances, my family stayed the course. My father joked that the Giants' game plan during this time was Run Right, Run Left, Incomplete Pass, and Punt.

I grew up a child of the '80s during part of the greatest era in Giants history. Although we would watch the Giants each Sunday, Super Bowl XXI was the first game I remember watching. We lived in Bergen County, N.J. and I remember seeing members of the team jogging around the neighborhood. My father worked at Pascack Valley Hospital when the 1987 Giants had their team physicals completed there. He still has the sign-in sheet with all their signatures in a lock box at his house. He even treated Mark Bavarro and Phil Simms when they came to his hospital for game injuries. We moved to upstate New York during the 1990 season playoffs. I remember watching the NFC Championship game on the TV with rabbit ears because our street didn't have cable installed. The next weekend my father went to Radio Shack to get an aerial antenna and installed it Super Bowl Sunday. I remember that game vividly because I never saw my father jump as high as he did as when Norwood missed wide right.

As I got older, he would take me to more games. We usually made it to one a season or whenever he could get tickets from his uncle/cousin or co-workers. One of my fondest memories of going to Giants Stadium was when I bought tickets for my Dad and I. It was Jan. 6th, 2002 against the Green Bay Packers. It's not my favorite memory because Strahan broke the sack record that game. For the first time, I got to treat my Dad to the game. Although we had nose-bleed seats, we managed to sneak behind an usher during warm-ups and sat down eight rows behind the Giants bench on the 50-yard line. Whoever had those seats decided not to show up that day so we never had to move. He told me it was the first time he had to look up in order to see the ball in the air.

I am currently in the Navy and not in the Giants market, however that will not stop me from catching each game that I can (if I am not out at sea). I am married now and have two young boys of my own (3 ½ and 5 months) and I have started my own Giants tradition. Every Sunday from August to January, you can find my whole family wearing our Giants jerseys and glued to the TV watching the G-men.

Football is a passionate sport. There are a lot of life lessons that I took away while playing it in high school and college. One thing I learned from my father and grandfather is that it's good to wear your heart on your sleeve and cheer for a team that you love. The Giants are a class organization, steeped with tradition. Within the last few years they have put together winning teams, which makes it easy to root for them. While the players and coaches may change and they may go through tougher times, I know I will continue to root for them. I will root for them because my father and grandfather did. The Giants were a mechanism to help bond with my family. Hopefully, my sons will continue to grow up Giants fans, too.