New York Giants Training Camp Part Two: A Tale of 2 Lombardis
New York Giants Training Camp Part Two
If you missed Part One, CLICK HERE. We continue the second part of our journey to New York Giants training camp on the day of. My thinking was that a mid-week session would be more accessible and fan friendly than a weekend one. Let’s face it, the New York Giants had been through a lot since 2006 and there were no longer 2 practice sessions a day to choose from. I was quickly reminded that nothing attracts a crowd like a Super Bowl winner as we approached the parking lot which was backed up with cars. New York plates. Expected. New Jersey. Of course. Pennsylvania. Oooook. Rhode Island? Isn’t that New England Patriots nation? Ontario?!?! HOLY SCHNIKES!!!! The Canucks like the New York Giants, eh?
Mind you, this myriad of license plates was observed after we had already driven past 4 full and closed parking lots. It took 10 minutes alone to get up to the lot attendant to pay the requested $5. After we finally parked I noticed a sea of blue jerseys all over the parking lot. It resembled 12:20pm on a November Sunday at Giants Stadium (You’ll never get me to say Met Life). I could not believe what I was seeing.
We walked for what seemed like a mile across the campus to the furthest field. Naturally my kids were wearing flip-flops and it was now 92 degrees out. Due to the UAlbany football field construction over the past few years (no doubt funded by the New York Giants presence), the pro team had been relocated to the further field in the back of the campus. It may as well been in Hoboken. With each passing field I got to hear, “Is this it?” from my now sweating and shoeless children. Had I brought my 3 year old as well, I would have turned around. I saw that there had now erected a sponsor’s VIP tent entrance to the practice area that was guarded and roped off to the average Joe (Morris). So where was the general admission entrance? Of course, another 600 yards down and around. Why not? Been years since I was on a good hike. Could stand to lose ALL health units by 2pm. Saddle up, kids!
Finally, we made it to the general admission area that sat upon a hill looking down at the players some 200 yards away. First question, “Where’s Eli Manning?”, asked my daughter, Sophia. Even with my focus and ability to know how football practices are generally carried out, I could not spot Eli.
Then I saw the red jerseys that screamed “Do Not Touch”. I had found the quarterbacks. There he was. Number 10. Two Super Bowl championship rings. Two MVPs and about 2500 people waiting to get his autograph!!! It made me almost…ALMOST…wish that the New York Giants were still 6-10 and living the life of oblivion.
Practice was impossible to follow from this distance. It was frustrating. I quickly found that I was not enjoying myself. By the time I hit the mental point of “beat the traffic”, my kids were half naked as they tried to suck a drop of moisture from the root of a near-by tree. Not one heart was broken when I said, “Heyyy…sooooooo I have an idea….who wants to get some ice cream then go swimming?”. I could not blow torch the smiles off their faces as we made our way back across the Sahara.
I drove home somewhat disenchanted. My experience from 2006 to 2012 was night and day. Black and White. Early Wild Card exit and Lombardi Trophy. I felt like I had let my kids down.
As my children regained proper hydration levels, and consciousness for that matter, I realized that my Giants were now indeed GIANTS. The New York Giants of today are everyone’s darling and to be seen at their training camp was now en vogue. Peoples Facebook pages and Twitter feeds blew up with pics of Giants camp. It did not matter if they could not tell me who Jim Burt was. I had to accept that with this type of success in the media capital of the world comes fame and with fame comes a price. That price? Sharing my New York Giants with the next generation, the johnny-come-lately, and corporate VIPs.
Small price to pay for 2 Super Bowls in 4 years, eh?