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The Battle of New York

Posted by Chase Stuart on October 5, 2007

Since the two teams fight for the back of the newspaper every day, there's a natural rivalry between the Jets and the Giants, and by extension, their fans.

The most famous phrase spoken by a New York QB? Is it "We're going to win this game, I guarantee it!" or "I'm going to Disney World"? For that matter, who is the best QB in New York history? Namath or Simms (Jim Kelly fans, please sit this one out)?

The best nickname for a defense? The Big Blue Wrecking Crew, or the New York Sack Exchange?

Best team nickname? Gang Green or Big Blue?

The best RB in New York history? Curtis Martin rushed for 1,000 yards in ten straight seasons, a feat matched only by Barry Sanders. Tiki Barber? He totaled 13,440 yards in seven years, the most by any player in an seven year stretch ever.

The best HC in New York history? Bill Parcells, or Bill Parcells?

While the rivalry might seem lifeless now, in the mid-'80s, the Giants and Jets were more bitter rivals. In 1986 -- when the star defensive players both made the cover of Sports Illustrated -- the Jets started 10-1 and the Giants finished 14-2. A Super Bowl match-up seemed plausible, but one of the most bitter losses in Jets history kept them out of the conference championship game. In the twenty seasons since, the two franchises both went to the playoffs just twice, 2002 and 2006.

Let's stroll through the history of the Jets and Giants:

1925: Tim Mara purchases the Giants for $500, and the city of New York has its first football team.

1934: The Giants win their first championship, beating the previously undefeated Chicago Bears, 30-13. The Bears (twice) and the Dolphins remain the only franchises to have a perfect regular season.

1959: Harry Wismer, along with seven other owners, announce the berth of the American Football League. Wismer will charter the New York franchise, nicknamed the Titans.

1960: Don Maynard, cut by the Giants following the 1958 season and out of the NFL in '59, becomes the first player signed by the Titans. He would be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1987.

1963: The Titans are re-named the Jets.

1964: After being drafted by the Jets in the first round of the AFL draft, and in the fourth round in the separate NFL draft by the Giants, Matt Snell becomes the first player to snub the Giants in favor of the Jets. The Ohio State great would later rush for 121 yards in Super Bowl III, and score the winning team's only touchdown.

1964-65: Joe Namath, the highly regarded quarterback prospect, leads Alabama to the National Championship. He is drafted by the NFL's Cardinals, but signs with the Jets, a decision that sends shock waves through both leagues. He's given the largest contract in the history of professional sports, and known as the $427,000 man. Rumor has it that the Giants, who had owned the first pick in the NFL draft that season, passed on drafting Namath to avoid the risk of losing him to the Jets. Former Jets coach Walt Michaels claims that "St. Louis was the patsy for the Giants. They just couldn't stand the publicity if they lost him." Namath is reported to have said that the Cardinals asked him if he'd play for the Giants. The large contract given to Namath helped pave the way towards the NFL's acceptance of the start-up league. The following year the leagues would have their respective champions play (which made the AFL happy), and the year after that, the two teams would have a common draft (which made the NFL owners' accountants happy).

January 12, 1969: The Jets defeat the NFL Champion Baltimore Colts, 16-7. Namath is named MVP of the game, and is immortalized for fulfilling his guarantee. Three days earlier, at a Miami Touchdown Club dinner, Namath gets fed up with a line of questioning minimizing the Jets' chances. He responds by saying "We're going to win this game. I guarantee it."

Pre-season, 1969: The Jets and Giants play against each other for the first time. What was the biggest win for the Jets in 1969? Don Maynard, who was still angry at his former club, argued that it wasn't winning Super Bowl III:

The Super Bowl was one thing, but playing in Yale Bowl before 70,000 people for an exhibition game, that was another kind of Super Bowl. That game meant something. We knew if we didn't beat the Giants, everyone would have said the Super Bowl was just a fluke. We couldn't let that happen."

The Jets blow out the Giants 37-14, while Namath would throw three touchdown passes. The Jets and Giants have played each other in every pre-season since.

1970: The first season of football played after the AFL-NFL merger marks the first of ten regular season Jets-Giants games. Two weeks prior, the Jets played the Colts for the first time since Super Bowl III, and Namath fractures his hand, causing him to miss the remainder of the season. Backup QB Al Woodall passes for 164 yards, but Frank Tarkenton leads New York's senior franchise to a 22-10 victory.

1974: The first of three truly memorable Jets-Giants games. Namath had long been the arch-nemesis of the Giants franchise, as he was the quintessential anti-Giant. Having missed the 1970 game, this would be his only regular season chance to participate in the rivlary. He would not dissapoint.

With eight minutes to go, the Giants led 20-13 when Namath guided his charges to the Giant 3. He called 34 Wham, a running play sending Emerson Boozer off-tackle and, hopefully, three yards into the end zone to tie the game. At the line, however, Namath saw something-- linebacker Brad Van Pelt planning to slide toward the middle. But Namath didn’t audible. He didn’t even hint to his own players that he planned a change. He just called for the ball and swung into action.

Namath's improvisation fooled everyone, down to Boozer. The Jets ran the play with such sincerity that the Giants were utterly fooled; Namath wobbled on a weak side bootleg toward the end zone.

At the last second Spider Lockhart and Eldridge Small reached striking distance—they could at least make Namath pay by slamming him to the ground. Namath had the gall, no, the balls, to raise one hand and waving off the defenders, warning them not to ruin his glorious moment. Astonishingly, both pulled up as Namath tied the game. “They had to respect the man’s magic,” Mark Kriegel wrote in “Namath.”

Namath, of course, showed no mercy. A new NFL rule called for overtime and Namath piloted the Jets to football’s first regular season overtime touchdown, passing to Boozer in the end zone for a 26-20 win. In his last great act, Namath finished off his rivals—the Giants dropped their remaining games, finishing 2-12—while lifting his own team, as the Jets reeled off six straight wins to end the season at a respectable 7-7.

1981: Jets 26, Giants 7, in the first Jets-Giants game played at Giants Stadium. Wesley Walker was the star of the day with six catches for 142 yards and a TD. Mark Gastineau and Joe Klecko would each record 20 sacks in 1981.

1982: If injuries come in threes, this was the first. Phil Simms suffers a season-ending injury in the pre-season game against the Jets.

1983: The Jets play their last home game on Long Island: After failing to get money to renovate Shea Stadium, owner of the Jets, Leon Hess decided to move his team to Giants Stadium.

1984: In their inaugural season at the Meadowlands, the Jets host the Giants and lose, 20-10. This is the first time the Giants will play a road game at Giants Stadium. Marion Barber III's father, fumbles twice for the Jets.

1986: The Giants win their first Super Bowl, 39-20 over the Denver Broncos. Phil Simms becomes the first player to shout "I'm going to Disney World" after winning the Super Bowl.

1987: The Giants, suffering from a Super Bowl hangover, salvage a 6-9 season by at least beating the Jets, 20-7.

1988: After three relatively nondescript games, the most famous game in this rivalry occurs. The Giants rebounded from a disappointing '87 season, and would once again play the Jets in the regular season finale. The 10-5 Giants needed a win to make the playoffs, while the 7-7-1 Jets were playing the role of spoiler. After being down most of the game, Phil Simms throws his third score of the game to put the Giants up 21-20. But with under a minute to go, Ken O'Brien finds Al Toon for the game winning touchdown. That reception was Toon's 93rd of the season, which led the league. It remains the franchise single-season record, and he's still the only Jet to lead the league in receptions in a season.

1990: Wide Right. The Giants win their second Super Bowl, 20-19.

1992: With the 14th pick in the NFL draft, the New York Giants select tight end Derek Brown. With the 15th pick in the NFL draft, the New York Jets select tight end Johnny Mitchell. The two first round pick TEs, selected back to back, would naturally be compared to each other for years -- except neither would last in New York past 1995.

1993: Jets 10, Giants 3. This game was played on Halloween, which is the only interesting thing I can think of.

1996: The "Toilet Bowl" pitted the 0-3 Jets against the 0-3 Giants. The senior team emerged victorious, in a 13-6 win that was every bit as ugly as you would think.

1997: Giants legend Bill Parcells comes back to the Meadowlands, but this time to coach the Jets.

1998: Jason Sehorn, one of the very best cornerbacks in the league, injures his knee returning a kick in the pre-season game against the Jets. He would miss the entire season, and would never be the same player again.

1999: Parcells' fourth game in this series, but his only manning the Jets sidelines. Ray Lucas, the star Rutgers product born in New Jersey, would throw for 4 TDs. But Amani Toomer stole the show with 181 yards and three scores, leading the Giants to a 41-28 victory. Bill Parcells would, uh, retire after the season.

2003: The third of the significant Jets-Giants pre-season injuries, along with the third memorable game. Chad Pennington suffers a fracture in his non-throwing hand after being hit by Brandon Short, and would miss the first six games of the season. His first start of the year would come against the Giants, in the team's most recent regular season match-up.

For the second Jets-Giants game in a row, the Jets QB would throw four touchdown passes. Santana Moss would catch three scores, including one to cut the lead to 28-21 with six minutes remaining. Pennington would drive the Jets down the field, before finding Anthony Becht in the end-zone for the game-tying touchdown.

In overtime, the miscues began. The Giants drove into Jets territory, but Brett Conway hooked a 39-yard field goal. The Jets followed that up by taking too long to decide what to do, facing a 4th and 3 at the Giants 32. After Herm Edwards finally sent out the field goal unit, James Dearth snapped the ball with one second left on the play clock. But place kicker Doug Brien was still in his pre-kick routine, and his weak attempt was blocked. The Giants would storm down the field and kick a 29-yarder, for their third straigth win in the series.

10/07/2007: Jets @ Giants, 1 PM.

2010: The Jets and Giants begin play in their new joint stadium.

Finally, here's a list of every player to suit up for both franchises.

| name             | pos       |
+------------------+-----------+
| Raul Allegre     | K         |
| Cary Blanchard   | K         |
| Johnny Bookman   | DB        |
| John Booty       | DB        |
| Terrell Buckley  | DB        |
| Jim Carroll      | LB        |
| Jonathan Carter  | WR        |
| Brett Conway     | K         |
| Mike Dennis      | DB        |
| Steve DeOssie    | LB        |
| Jumbo Elliott    | T         |
| Joe Fields       | C-G       |
| Larry Flowers    | DB        |
| Sam Garnes       | DB        |
| Chris Godfrey    | G-T-DE-DT |
| Scott Gragg      | T         |
| Ray Green        | DB        |
| Lee Grosscup     | QB        |
| T.J. Hollowell   | LB        |
| Erik Howard      | NT-DT-DE  |
| Proverb Jacobs   | T-DT      |
| Chuck Janerette  | DT-T-G    |
| Dave Jennings    | P         |
| Curley Johnson   | RB-P-TE   |
| Pepper Johnson   | LB        |
| Gordon King      | T-G       |
| Lance LeGree     | DT-DE     |
| Leonard Marshall | DE-DT     |
| Don Maynard      | E-FL-HB   |
| Ed McGlasson     | C         |
| Kareem McKenzie  | T         |
| Dave Meggett     | RB        |
| Chuck Mercein    | RB        |
| Bob Mischak      | G-TE      |
| Chad Morton      | RB        |
| Lonnie Palelei   | G-T       |
| Roman Phifer     | LB        |
| Joe Prokop       | P         |
| Kenyon Rasheed   | FB        |
| Lee Riley        | DB        |
| William Roberts  | G-T       |
| Coleman Rudolph  | DE-LB     |
| Adam Schreiber   | G-C       |
| Omar Stoutmire   | DB        |
| Billy Taylor     | RB        |
| Maurice Tyler    | DB        |
| Roscoe Word      | DB        |

This entry was posted on Friday, October 5th, 2007 at 4:08 am and is filed under General. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.