Oct 312007
 

New York Giants Players Depart:  The Giants players reported for weight training and conditioning work, as well as a team meeting yesterday, before departing for a brief mid-season vacation.  The players will be off until next Monday when they begin preparations for their next game against the Dallas Cowboys.

The assistant coaching staff will be made available to the media today.  After that, there will be no scheduled media availability to the coaches until next Monday as well.

Article on the Giants’ Team Health: This 6-2 Record is a Lot Healthier by John Branch of The New York Times

Articles on the First Half of the Season for the Giants:

Oct 302007
 

New York Giants Return Home to the United States:  The Giants were scheduled to leave London yesterday afternoon.  The players will be at Giants Stadium today for weight training and conditioning, as well as a team meeting.  Since the Giants have a bye this weekend, the players will then be off until next Monday.

“It will be good to get home, have the off week and get back to a regular schedule,” said QB Eli Manning. “It has been a fun trip, it has been neat. But it has been different. We’re used to the same thing every day and having our normal schedule. Then all of a sudden you’re thrown for a little loop here. But we did a good job of handling it and staying focused on what our goal was, which was to win the game.”

“When you’re on a streak, you want it to continue,” said DE Michael Strahan of the upcoming bye. “You hate to have a break. But at the same time we need a break.  It’s been long for us. We had a Monday night game. We had an early Sunday night game. We had the trip here. We’re tired and we need a break. It comes at the right time for us, eight games into it.”

“After eight straight weeks, the guys are getting tired,” said Manning.

HB Brandon Jacobs, who is still nursing a sore ankle, says he can use the break but he is also already looking forward to playing Dallas on November 11th.  “I hate Dallas,” said Jacobs. “When I was growing up, everybody was for Dallas, and I didn’t like them, for that reason.”

Injury Report:  CB Kevin Dockery injured his shoulder against the Miami Dolphins.  CB Corey Webster filled in for him.  Dockery’s injury is said not to be serious.  X-rays were negative.

Those who will benefit from the bye include Dockery, WR Plaxico Burress (ankle), HB Brandon Jacobs (ankle), HB Derrick Ward (ankle), SS James Butler (ankle/hamstring), and WR Steve Smith (shoulder/hamstring).

Giants Sticking with PK Lawrence Tynes:  Head Coach Tom Coughlin said yesterday that the Giants were not going to change place kickers despite the fact that PK Lawrence Tynes has missed two extra points and a 29-yard field goal thus far this season.  “He’s been our kicker for the first eight games; we are 6-2,” said Coughlin. “There have been some disappointments, but we’re sticking with him.”

Notes:  The Giants are 15-4 in games prior to the regular season bye week, tying them for the second-best record in the NFL.  However, the Giants are also 4-14 in games after the bye.

The last time the Giants won six regular season games in a row was in 1994.

QB Eli Manning is 11-1 as a starting quarterback in October.

DE Michael Strahan has now played in his 208th regular season game, moving into sole possession of first place on the Giants’ career list. He had been tied with former Giant TE Howard Cross.

Oct 282007
 

Terrible Effort by Giants, But New York Escapes With a Win: Behind terrible play-calling and poor execution, the New York Giants were lucky to escape with a 13-10 victory against the lowly and winless Miami Dolphins in London earlier today.

In forcing the Giants and Dolphins to play a regular-season game in Europe, the NFL corporate types obviously intended this game to expand the international appeal of American football with the obvious goal to make more money.  That plan backfired miserably as the Giants and Dolphins played what will undoubtedly be one of the worst, most boring games of the entire 2007 season.  It’s hard to imagine anyone in Europe would want to watch another football game after that effort.

Simply put, the game was dreadful.  And had the Giants played any other NFL team, they would have likely lost.

How bad was it for the Giants?  QB Eli Manning finished the game 8-of-22 for 59 yards.  He was terribly inaccurate, but his receivers also could not hold onto the football.  The leading receiver for the Giants – TE Jeremy Shockey – only had three catches for 26 yards.  Making matters worse was the atrocious play calling by Head Coach Tom Coughlin and Offensive Coordinator Kevin Gilbride.  Despite the fact that the Giants were facing the NFL’s 31st-ranked run defense, on rainy day in sloppy field conditions, and that Manning and his receivers were clearly struggling, Coughlin and Gilbride continued to call passing plays for much of the contest.

And PK Lawrence Tynes missed yet another short kick, this time a 29-yard effort in the fourth quarter that should have given the Giants a 16-3 lead.

The Dolphins started the game by using the run and short passing game to move from their 25-yard line to the New York 29-yard line.  Fortunately, ex-Giant PK Jay Feely missed his 48-yard field goal attempt.  The Giants did drive 59 yards in 11 plays on their first effort.  But the G-Men settled for a short field goal after having a 1st-and-goal from the Dolphins’ 4-yard line.  On second down, Manning badly overthrew wide open WR Amani Toomer for what should have been a touchdown.  Manning’s third-down pass to FB Madison Hedgecock was also off the mark.

Miami moved the ball on their second drive as well, but turned the football over on a 3rd-and-1, direct snap to the back.  FS Gibril Wilson recovered at the Dolphins’ 48-yard line, but New York went three-and-out and punted.

After allowing one first down on Miami’s ensuing possession, the defense stiffened and the Dolphins punted.  The Giants then drove 69 yards in 14 plays for their sole touchdown drive of the game.  On this drive, HB Reuben Droughns converted first downs on 3rd-and-1 and 4th-and-1.  A low 3rd-and-4 pass to WR Plaxico Burress was ruled incomplete, then overturned by instant replay.  On the very next snap, Manning scored running the ball in from 10 yards out.  Giants 10-Dolphins 0.

With under a minute to play before halftime, the Dolphins did move to midfield, but journeyman QB Cleo Lemon let the ball slip out of his hand and DE Michael Strahan recovered.  HB Brandon Jacobs picked up 11 yards on 3rd-and-10 and Tynes kicked a 41-yard field goal to give the Giants a 13-0 advantage.

The Giants would not score in the second half.

New York received the ball first in the third quarter, but the Giants’ offensive “brain trust” called three straight passing plays in the rain with a 13-0 lead.  Punt.  On the Giants’ next possession, Manning was intercepted but luckily Miami was called for defensive holding on the play.  Three plays later, the Giants punted again.  New York’s third drive ended with a sack and fumble by Manning.  The Dolphins recovered near midfield and drove the football to the Giants’ 2-yard line before settling for a field goal.  The Giants were greatly helped by the fact that Lemon fumbled the ball again on 2nd-and-goal from the 2-yard line, leading to a 9-yard loss.  Giants 13-Dolphins 3.

The Giants responded with a 9-play, 54-yard drive that moved the ball to the Dolphins’ 11-yard line.  But the passing game again let the Giants down and Tynes missed his 29-yard field goal try.

Miami went three-and-out on their next possession with DT Fred Robbins sacking Lemons on third down.  After picking up one first down, the Giants imploded with four penalties, having to face a 2nd-and-37 at one point.

Miami got the ball back at their own 20-yard line with about four minutes to play.  The Dolphins drove 80 yards for the touchdown in two minutes and 11 seconds, scoring from 21 yards out on a 3rd-and-17 pass play with just under two minutes to play.  However, Feely’s onside kick went out of bounds.  The Dolphins were out of time outs and the Giants simply kneeled on the ball to mercifully end the game.

The one bright spot for the Giants offensively was HB Brandon Jacobs who rushed for 131 yards on 23 carries.  But Jacobs also fumbled the ball; fortunately New York recovered.

Post-Game Notes:  Inactive for the Giants were HB Derrick Ward (ankle), SS James Butler (hamstring/ankle), WR Steve Smith (hamstring/shoulder), QB Jared Lorenzen (3rd quarterback), OT Adam Koets, OG Kevin Boothe, DT Manny Wright, and DE Dave Tollefson.

Article on WR Plaxico Burress:  Burrress Gives London a Go by John Branch of The New York Times

Oct 272007
 

October 26, 2007 New York Giants Injury Report:  Head Coach Tom Coughlin revealed yesterday that WR Steve Smith was limited in practiced on Thursday not because of his shoulder injury but because he had strained his hamstring during practice on Wednesday.  The Giants have Smith now listed as “doubtful” for the game against the Dolphins on Sunday.

WR Plaxico Burress (ankle), HB Derrick Ward (ankle), and SS James Butler (ankle/hamstring) did not practice again.  Ward and Butler are listed as “doubtful” by the Giants, Burress is listed as “questionable”.  Rookie Michael Johnson will likely start at safety on Sunday.

Articles on the Giants’ First Day in England:

Oct 262007
 

By Eric from BigBlueInteractive.com

Approach to the Game – New York Giants at Miami Dolphins, October 28, 2007: In recent weeks, I’ve had this feeling that I am unaccustomed to, specifically, that I haven’t been terribly anxious about the upcoming Giants’ game.  While I knew they could lose, I didn’t think it was likely.  As long-time readers of this site know, that is not the norm for me.  I am a worrier once the season starts, but not this year so far.  I can’t explain it.

I’m trying to find a reason why to be worried about the Dolphins game.  The best I can come up with is that PK Jay Feely or CB Will Allen will somehow exact their revenge on the Giants for letting them go.  That’s more likely with Feely.  For some reason, the Giants continue to take their chances with Lawrence Tynes.  We all know that is going to cost them.  It’s the one move that Jerry Reese made that doesn’t sit well with me.  Not that I was a big fan of Feely, but he is a better football player than Tynes.  Acquiring Tynes also cost us a draft pick.

An interesting aside that no one has talked about this week is that the Dolphins were interested in possibly hiring Reese a few years ago.  How different would things be had that happened?

Back to the game.  Could the Giants lose?  Sure.  Every weekend in college or pro football – every weekend – we see game or a score that leaves us scratching our heads.  The Dolphins, while winless and beat up, still have good football players.  And the Dolphins are not going to go winless in 2007.  They will beat somebody.

But I don’t expect it to happen this weekend.

Giants on Special Teams: The Giants have had many, many bad place kickers, but I can’t recall anyone who makes me nervous about extra points like Lawrence Tynes does.  While his statistics on field goals (10-of-12) don’t look bad, we know how shaky some of those kicks have been as well.  The Giants need to cut bait on this guy before it hurts them bad.  They are in a tight divisional race.

Feely, meanwhile, has been a perfect 12-of-12, including 4-of-4 in the 40-49 yard range.

The coverage units need to play well because rookie WR/returner Ted Ginn is a very, very fast and dangerous kickoff and punt returner.  Anyone who saw him in college knows that.

Giants on Offense: The Dolphins are hurting on defense.  LB Zach Thomas (neck) will miss the game.  S Renaldo Hill (knee) is now out for the season.  DT Vonnie Holliday is bothered by an ankle injury.  DT Keith Traylor has had ankle and knee problems, and has been sick this week.  (Injury update:  Holliday has been ruled out of the game).

The Dolphins do have DE Jason Taylor.  He can make the game-turning play with his ability to penetrate and disrupt.  The Dolphins will drop him into coverage too.  He’s a tough test for LT David Diehl.

But the Dolphins have been dreadful on defense.  They can’t stop the pass or the run.  Since they are 31st in run defense, we should see a heavy dose of Brandon Jacobs on Sunday, especially with Zach Thomas out.  If the Giants don’t turn the football over or fall behind, it should be a long, long day for Miami against the run.

The Dolphins’ secondary has been ravaged by injuries.  Aside from Will Allen, who will face Amani Toomer, they have guys starting who should be on the bench or on the street.  The nickel corner, Mike Lehan, is now the starting right corner.  He has the unenviable task of guarding Plaxico Burress.  The safeties are just dreadful, and the linebackers, without Thomas, are overrated.  Jeremy Shockey should also make some big plays.

The Giants shouldn’t get cute.  They are the better and healthier team.  Pound the football and take the life out of the Dolphins early.  Again, as I said last week, turnovers are likely the only thing that will stop the Giants.  If the Giants don’t turn the ball over, they should win easily.

Giants on Defense: The heart of the Dolphins’ offense – HB Ronnie Brown and QB Trent Green – are now on Injured Reserve.  Miami also recently traded away WR Chris Chambers, their best receiver.  Cleo Lemon will start at quarterback; Jesse Chatman at running back.  Who?  What?  Before we all get too giddy, keep in mind that the Giants have a long and storied history of losing to no-name, back-up quarterbacks (okay, that’s the old Eric talking).

Making matters worse for Miami is that TE David Martin has been bothered by a groin injury (he may play however).  (Injury Update:  Martin has been ruled out of the game).

Chatman is averaging almost six yards per carry, but that stat is most likely deceiving and inflated with some cheap runs like last week against the Patriots.  Still, as always, stop the run first.  If the Dolphins can’t run, they will be in deep trouble.  If I’m Miami, I try to grind it out, take time off the clock, keep the Giants’ offense off the field as much as possible, and keep the game close.  Then let my specials out-play New York’s.  The Giants ruin this strategy if they stop the run.  The Giants love to rush the passer, but they have to stay disciplined and do the dirty work first.

The other key element is preventing Ginn – who is a speed merchant – from making big plays – either on passing plays or end arounds.  The Giants’ corners and safeties will be challenged by his speed.

Oct 262007
 

October 25, 2007 New York Giants Injury Report:  WR Steve Smith (shoulder) was limited in practice yesterday after fully practicing on Wednesday. WR Plaxico Burress (ankle), HB Derrick Ward (ankle), and SS James Butler (hamstring/ankle) did not practice again.

Notes and Quotes:  The Giants held a light practice yesterday at Giants Stadium before boarding their 6:00PM flight to London.  The team was schedule to arrive at 6:00AM London-time (1:00AM EST).  The Giants will practice today at Chelsea’s soccer training facility at 2:45PM London-time.

Phil Simms on the Giants:  “The Giants are absolutely starting to catch the attention of America. They have caught my attention. I am as interested now in the Giants as I am in the Indianapolis Colts and the New England Patriots. They have a flare about them. They are playing an exciting brand of football. They have playmakers all over the field – not just guys who can make plays – guys who can win the game. Plaxico Burress can win a game almost single-handedly. The running backs have been tremendous. They have one of the best pass blocking offensive lines in football. Nobody, nobody, in the NFL can rush the passer better than the New York Giants. I would say to all of the NFC teams, there is a new player out there. It’s pretty amazing that they held together after losing the first two games because the atmosphere going into the season was not good. The press wants Tom Coughlin fired because going to the playoffs in back-to-back years is not good enough.”

Oct 252007
 

NFL Changes Start Time of Giants-Lions Game: The NFL has changed the start of the Giants’ game at Detroit on November 18 from 4:15PM  to 1:00PM.  It is certainly possible that time could change again due to flex scheduling.

October 24, 2007 New York Giants Injury Report:  WR Plaxico Burress (ankle), HB Derrick Ward (ankle), and SS James Butler (ankle/hamstring) did not practice yesterday.  “(Butler and Ward) feel better today but they still did not work,” said Head Coach Tom Coughlin.

WR Steve Smith (shoulder) practiced fully.  “I think me and (Sinorice Moss) him would have to rotate (at third wide receiver), at least for now,”  said Smith. “Sinorice is doing a good job, and I’m a rookie, so I don’t think I’d get back there right away.”

Notes:  The Giants-Dolphins game will be seen in 216 countries, broadcast by 39 broadcast partners in 21 languages.

Oct 242007
 
New York Giants 33 – San Francisco 49ers 15

by Damon Micalizzi for BigBlueInteractive.com

(Editor’s Note:  Damon is the Public Information Officer for the Orange County Sheriff’s Department in Southern California.  He works around the clock with fire and other government agencies to keep the public informed).

Preface

As much as I love football, as much as I love the Giants, as I sit down to write this at 1:19 on Wednesday morning, my tired eyes and the lingering smell of smoke remind me that there is so much more to life than football.

I am very fortunate to live in beautiful Southern California.  It’s not so beautiful now.  Ashes continue to fall outside my window. It almost looks like snow flurries.  Everyone here wishes it was snow.  I’ve seen people’s homes burn to the ground while they stand watching in disbelief. Some of them now have nowhere to go. Hundreds of thousands of people are displaced up and down the Southern California Coast, while Firefighters valiantly try to save their homes.  Mother nature hasn’t helped; as gusts that would make the swirling winds of Giants Stadium seem like a ceiling fan, continue to fan the flames in very unpredictable ways.

While Firefighters and other Emergency Teams continue to wage war against these fires that seemingly just won’t quit, all many people can do is wait. And pray.

Thank God, my home and my family are safe.  Though it’s hard to fully concentrate on football, writing this is a welcome distraction from the drama lighting up the skies in the distance.

Needless to say, this review will be a bit brief.

In Brief…

I haven’t been able to see too much TV the past few days, but from what I have seen and read, the Big Blue Bandwagon is getting pretty full. Don’t get me wrong.  It’s nice to hear some of the alleged experts finally start to acknowledge some of the good work done by the boys in blue over the past four weeks.  I just hope that the guys in the locker room don’t start to believe the hype.  If Giants fans have come to learn anything over the past few decades it is this: When the G-Men are supposed to be good… They break your heart.  It’s when they have had a chip on their shoulder, that they have had their best seasons.  Case in point, the years when they were supposed to be second fiddle to San Fran or Chicago.  For one reason or another this franchise has flourished when they weren’t supposed to.  They seem to relish being the underdog.

What a difference a month makes. Picked by many of these talking heads to finish in the cellar of the NFC East to start the season, I now am in disbelief by all of the positive press the Jints are receiving.  A five game winning streak has some of these clowns talking about a Giants Superbowl appearance.  While I believe wholeheartedly that this team has the talent to do it… Let’s not get ahead of ourselves.  After losing to Dallas, the consensus choice to represent the NFC in the big game, and Brett Favre’s Cinderella Swan Song to start the season, the Giants have been impressive in winning their last five games. However, the combined record of the teams beat:  8-18.  Let’s not crown them yet.

Offense

I can’t believe I am saying this, but Kevin Gilbride called a hell of a game. From the first play of the game, I fell in love with the game plan.  Play action on a quick out to Shockey.  Not only does the play action freeze the linebackers and safeties who are most likely eager and amped at the outset of the game, but it gets Shockey involved from the get-go, which is never a bad thing.

Eli Manning looks more savvy and polished with each week.   From his continued ability to read the defense and audible to the “right” play to his knack for drawing offsides penalties with his cadence, Manning no longer looks the part of a wide-eyed kid playing in the NFL.

He has yet to have that “great game” this season, but it seems that every week is full of those “if only” plays.  If only the running backs didn’t drop five balls that hit them in the hands. If only that pass wasn’t tipped at the line, it wouldn’t have been picked.  The difference however, between this year’s “if only” plays and the ones of seasons’ past is, this year, his numbers still look pretty good and those plays aren’t costing the Giants the game.

Eli was crisp from the Giants’ very first possession. Using the play action fake to move the ball down the field with a series of passes that were right on the money.

Of course, the play-action pass is 150% more effective when you are running the ball at 5 plus yards a clip.  You can tell that Brandon Jacobs is starting to feel more confident in his knee as he is running the ball with a little more gusto. His speed is very unassuming as he routinely turned the corner off tackle against San Francisco for six and seven yard gains.  When it was all said and done, Jacobs had 107 yards on just 18 carries and a TD.

Derrick Ward is going to have to start catching the ball.  He’s dropped far too many passes this season.  Many if not all of them were his fault.  He continues to be a more than serviceable backup for Jacobs, and he is a threat both between the tackles and in the open field, but he dropped two passes that hit him in the hands. One of them would have been a TD.  Fortunately, Manning found Amani Toomer in the endzone two plays later.  On that throw, Manning expertly looked off the LB, pumped slightly to Mike Matthews, who was running an under route, and when the LB came up a step on the pump, Manning placed the ball just over his head where only Toomer could get it.

There’s a reason Reuben Droughns is returning kickoffs and handling short yardage.  I don’t know if he went to the Tom Coughlin Institute of ball security because he’s fumbled more than a few times in seasons past. Defenders are so good at stripping the ball these days; Droughns’ vice grip should not go unnoticed.

Nor should the play of the offensive line.  They are protecting the quarterback extremely well and they are opening huge holes for the running backs.  More importantly to Giants’ fans, they are not drawing penalty flags the way they (Luke Pettigout) did in the past. Take your hat off to David Diehl. The guy has done everything on the line except snap the ball and all he’s done is start every game for the past five years and do a more than solid job at every position. Chris Snee takes on D-Lineman with a nasty streak and Shaun O’Hara did a fabulous job of getting to the linebackers.  This group is quietly having a great season.

Defense

Remember when Giants’ fans were wondering where the hell is the pass rush after the first two games of the season??  Remember when they gave up 80 points in weeks one and two? Again, I’m not going to get too excited about this game because San Francisco is just awful, especially on offense.  Still though, Steve Spagnuolo has done a marvelous job with this unit.  Six more sacks on Sunday, and they probably could have had ten.  I don’t know if the front four is just so good they are masking the deficiencies of certain positions in the back seven but they are so good it might not matter.

Michael Strahan had maybe his best game in two years. Justin Tuck continues to wreak havoc almost every time he enters the game and Osi Umenyiora is undoubtedly the League’s Defensive Player of the Year… Thus far at least.   The Giants are not only getting pressure on opposing QBs, they are creating turnovers.

It sure seems like Sam Madison and Aaron Ross have more INTs this year than the Wills did in five years as the Giants starting corners.  Who would have ever thought that if you put a press corner in press coverage that he would play better?  Ross did get beat on the TD catch by Arnaz Battle.  I watched that play over and over.  He’s a hawk and his eyes got big, he misjudged the ball, gambled and lost.  He will only get better.

Special Teams

I said it earlier in the year and I’ll say it again:   Lawrence Tynes is going to cost this team a game at some point in the year.  He is garbage.  You don’t shank extra points.  Even if you kick it bad, on an extra point it’s supposed to go through.  This guy could screw up a cup of coffee.

To Sum It Up…

If you didn’t see the game and someone told you that the Giants would drop five passes, miss an extra point, have a punt blocked in the endzone for a safety and Eli would throw an interception, what would you think the outcome of the game would be?

Surely you wouldn’t think the Giants won in a blow out.  Six sacks and four turnovers along with a ball control attack that takes chunks of time off the clock are the reasons the Giants were able to overcome those issues.  And remember, the 49ers stink.

Now they take their act overseas.  I’m not worried about a letdown at Wembley.  Osi could probably beat the Dolphins by himself.  Plus they aren’t as likely to get as much media love in Great Britain.

By the way, apparently Tom Coughlin and the boys pay attention to my game reviews.  Last week I asked for McConkey… I mean McQuarters to stop being so quick to wave his arm in the air and actually try to return a punt for once and he did, three times.

Here’s my plea for this week: Lawrence Tynes was born in Scotland. If he is still is on the roster on Sunday, leave him there.

More importantly, someone send us some rain here in California.

(Box Score – San Francisco 49ers at New York Giants, October 21, 2007)
Oct 242007
 

October 23, 2007 New York Giants Injury ReportSS James Butler (ankle/hamstring) and WR Plaxico Burress (ankle) did not practice yesterday.

“(HB) Derrick Ward came out of the (49ers) game actually more nicked that he has been in previous weeks,” said Head Coach Tom Coughlin.  It is not clear if Ward practiced or not though The Journal News is reporting that he did not.

WR Steve Smith (shoulder) was more “advanced” in practice according to Coughlin.

DE Osi Umenyiora Wins “NFC Defensive Player of the Week” Again:  DE Osi Umenyiora has been awarded the “NFC Defensive Player of the Week” award for his performance against the 49ers last Sunday.  Umenyiora won the award largely due to one play where he sacked QB Trent Dilfer, forced a fumble, and then returned that fumble 75 yards for a touchdown.

This is Umenyiora’s second “NFC Defensive Player of the Week” award.  He earned his first for his 6-sack game against the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 4. Umenyiora is the first Giants’ defender to win two “NFC Player of the Week” awards in the same season since DE Michael Strahan in 2001.

Articles on the Giants Not Missing Tiki Barber: Giants Are Motivated in Absence of Barber by John Branch of The New York Times

Quotes:  DE Justin Tuck on playing the 0-7 Miami Dolphins in London: “I think what’s dangerous about them is they are 0-7 and they lost their best player (HB Ronnie Brown) – their backs are against the wall.  What better situation to get their first win than to be in the limelight in London against a team that’s on a roll right now? It could be a trap game if we don’t go over there and have that mentality we need to have.”

Oct 232007
 

by English Alaister for BigBlueInteractive.com

The New York Giants are on a roll, 5-2 in the NFC East after a 5 game winning streak and a fixture looming against possibly the worst team in the NFL now missing its best player. What could go wrong? Well, we’re Giants fans so we all know that list is endless, but many will point to a game looming on the other side of the pond and all the variables that introduces. In fact, when the game was first announced there was widespread concern that the Giants had let the NFL screw them. A classic case of “the Giants putting the welfare of the league before their own good again” was the refrain from certain forums with right-angled architectural features. Well, needless to say, I don’t really think this is the case and the argument against breaks down into two strands, the pragmatic and the more theoretical.

Let’s take the former first. The Giants clearly stand to benefit from coming to London. By being an early adopter of the NFL’s scheme the Giants stand to grow their international fan base at a rate greater than they otherwise would. The NFL’s major growth opportunities lie outside the US, of which Europe is one of a handful of targeted areas. The Giants have received an overwhelming amount of free publicity and have benefitted from increased appearances on British television in the past few weeks and that’s going to show up in the bottom line for the club long-term. The more cynical amongst us might also notice our plentiful appearances on Sunday and Monday night football the past few weeks.

Another strand of the argument is that the disruption caused by the travel places the Giants’ season in jeopardy. I don’t buy this. A game in London involves little more than a trip to San Diego or San Francisco. There are those of us who commute frequently between the US and UK for work and don’t find any need to excuse poor performance for the following month. Frankly, I think the Giants should be able to perform multiple lunar orbits mid-week, splash land into the Thames and still beat the Dolphins handily. The real question here is this ‘Have the Giants developed the focus they need to not allow this to become a distraction?’. You just know for a significant amount of the past ten or fifteen years the Giants would have allowed a lack of focus and mental fortitude to throw them off their stride. This is a large part of the reason we rarely have had to worry about our January plans concerning the team. I think its this simple, if the Giants allow the Wembley game to be anything other than an important time to demonstrate to the wider world that they’re a very good team then this team is not going as far as we hope. Personally, I think the Giants will be professionalism personified and it’ll be evidence of a mentally tougher team more focused on its football.

So, on to the more contentious part of the argument for the Giants visiting London. Their international fans deserve it. I wouldn’t say we necessarily have a right to the visit but I do commend the Giants for giving their European fans the chance to see the team affordably. I don’t want to get into a discussion about what kind of rights fans have in general over their teams although I do think an increasing trend in sports will be teams questioning what is currently quite a myopic view of their base. I do think when you consider a lot of European fans have contributed a lot to BBI down the years and consider that’s a microcosm of the wider Giants fan base then the argument for the Giants playing in London is obvious. Guys like Walter B, Jason in Oregon, Larry O, Jan in Norway, Tony in Berlin and Limey Pete (to name but a few) were vocal contributors back when BBI was relatively young. All of them do reside or have spent significant parts of their lives in Europe and stand to benefit from the Giants visiting. The links between London and New York are pretty obvious with a large number of employees moving between the two cities for extended periods and this game will be manna from Heaven for a few ex-pats. Stanley Kubrick is probably the most famous example, having spent his last years in England having games shipped immediately from the US! Finally, it bears mentioning that several current Giants have spent significant amounts of their lives over here. There certainly can’t be any harm in the next Osi growing up a Giants fan!

When you think of this game then, I ask you not to focus on the disruption or the inconvenience but on the advantages this brings your team and the joy it brings to a small but vocal part of the BBI community. The Giants are going to get a heck of a welcome at Wembley and this is absolutely the right thing for one of the NFL’s flagship franchises to be doing. It’ll be a great day for us regardless of what happens, I hope it is for you too!