The New York Jets and Giants are two franchises who spent a majority of the 2011 season on a very even keel. Both had similar records and both spent the final weeks of the season fighting tooth and nail for a playoff berth.
That was, however, until the Giants defeated the Jets on Christmas Day and seemingly rolled to a Super Bowl victory after that match up. Since that December afternoon, the two teams have gone in completely opposite directions.
The Giants are viewed as the stable, humbled franchise with the hardware, while the Jets are seen in the public eye as a circus with a ticking time bomb ready to blow the roof off the big top at the first sign of trouble.
Last night the two franchises came together for a common cause at the 19th annual Gridiron Gala at the Woldorf Astoria in Manhattan, where together, they helped raise over $1.5 million. The United Way of New York City honored Jets guard Brandon Moore and Giants guard Chris Snee as Hometown Heroes for their superb community efforts throughout the year.
“I am humbled to be acknowledged as a Hometown Hero for the work I do in my community,” said Moore. “I am proud to give back and hope that I can inspire others to do the same.”
“Hometown Hero is a badge I will wear with pride for the rest of my life,” said Snee. “It is so fulfilling to be able to give back to my hometown and I hope that everyone is able to join this effort and help those in need.”
With several key players and figures from both franchises on hand to show their support and gratitude for their teammate’s charitable efforts, Double G Sports caught up with some of them for their thoughts on the upcoming season.
When the Jets pulled off the shocking trade for quarterback Tim Tebow on March 21, nobody was more critical of the decision than Jets legendary Hall of Fame quarterback, Joe Namath, when he publicly stated that he thought the Jets sole intent in trading for Tebow was to “grab headlines.” Since then, Namath has dramatically changed his tone in regards Tebow and the impact he could have on the teams Super Bowl aspirations.
When asked if he thought Tebow and Sanchez could function together, Namath answered, “Yes, I think it can work. I’ve got enough respect for Tony Sparano to believe it can work, it remains to be seen how they execute…At any rate, Tebow is a positive, in anyway you add him to your organization, he is a positive.”
Asked if he thought Sanchez was indeed the superior quarterback to Tebow, Namath stated, “There’s no doubt about it, there’s no doubt about it at all, at this point, certainly. And Mark’s going to get better. He’s going into his fourth year. Golly, I remember a team that won a championship with a quarterback in his fourth year. I hope it happens again.”
The critical remarks that Namath has dished out about the franchise that he brought their lone Super Bowl title to way back in 1969 has caused for a seemingly rocky relationship between himself and Owner Woody Johnson in recent months.
“It’s rough, none of us like to be critiqued or criticized in a negative way,” Namath said. “It gets bent sometimes. I don’t like feeling the vibes that I get back whenever I cross Woody’s path. Rex and I have been getting along well when we bump into each other, but I know there’s an underlying sensitivity there that the Jets have.”
At the opposite end of the spectrum, the much more collected and under control side, the Giants are set to receive their Super Bowl Championship rings tonight in Manhattan at Tiffany & Company. One of the key cogs in that championship run was receiver Hakeem Nicks, who spoke to Double G Sports exclusively about the Giants storybook championship run.
“To win a title in New York is a great experience, especially to get it so early in my career,” said Nicks. “It’s something I’ll always remember and I’m definitely ready to get to work and compete for another.”
Nicks caught 76 passes for 1,192 yards last season as the teams prime down the field threat. Lined up on the other side of Nicks was slot speedster, Victor Cruz, who went from training camp cut candidate to Pro-Bowl superstar almost overnight. Cruz exploded onto the scene last season for an incredible 82 catch campaign that saw him rack up 1,536 yards.
“It’s great playing with him, man,” added Nicks. ”I think we compliment each other very well. He does what he does in the slot, I do what I do on the outside and we compliment each other well; we play great team ball.”
Of course, to have two receivers with the gaudy numbers that Nicks and Cruz compiled, you have to have an elite quarterback throwing them the ball. Nicks believes that Eli is, without question, in the upper echelon of the leagues elite class of quarterbacks.
“I always felt like he was elite,” admitted Nicks. “The whole team felt like that. It’s just other people who have doubts, but that’s just the game we play; everybody doesn’t have to believe me as long as you believe in yourself and your teammates believe in you, then you can go out and get the job done.”