EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

New Hampshire archives

January 27, 2008

Giants fans feel more love than Yankees, anyway

Leo Feeney knows the loneliness of New York Giants fans in New England - especially with a Super Bowl ring on the line.

"It's tough, it's tough," said the 69-year-old Salem, N.H., resident.

Sure it's tough, says Scott Menario, 49, also of Salem. But he loves the razzing he gets from - and gives to - the army of Patriots fans surrounding him.

And from the standpoint of Lawrence police Chief John Romero, a 57-year-old Giants and Yankees fan who grew up in the Bronx, the hassles he endures during football season pale in comparison with the ones that come with baseball.

Being a Giants fan in Patriots country isn't exactly easy as the Feb. 3 Super Bowl matchup approaches. But the rivalry certainly doesn't equal the Hatfields-and-McCoys, Capulets-and-Montagues, Yankees-and-Red Sox wars.

New Englanders are loath to dare any affection for a New York squad. But those who live here, and live and die for the Giants, say they can do so without much fear of retribution.

Feeney, whose Giants addiction was sparked in 1953 when he saw them play the Washington Redskins on his aunt and uncle's first television, thinks he knows why New England's aversion for the team lacks a certain vitriol.

He makes his point by way of example. Feeney was at a Patriots vs. Giants preseason game three or four years ago at Gillette Stadium, wearing his Giants gear. As expected, some Patriots faithfuls in the stands threw insults his way.

Then someone came to his defense.

"He's OK. He's a Y.A. Tittle fan," the person yelled, referencing the balding weather-beaten quarterback who landed in New York late in his career and led the Giants to unexpected success in the early 1960s.

Back in the day, the Giants were the fan favorite in these parts.

The Patriots weren't even a team until 1960, when they were called the Boston Patriots and were part of the upstart American Football League, thought to be inferior to the established National Football League. The two leagues merged in 1970.

In years prior, the Giants, founded in 1925, were the professional football team shown most often on televisions in Massachusetts and New Hampshire households where football-hungry fans, especially working-class ones, identified with the crew-cut, broken-toothed warriors of the gridiron.

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