May 262014
 
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Lawrence Taylor, New York Giants (January 2, 1983)

Lawrence Taylor, New York Giants (January 2, 1983)

90 Years of New York Football Giants: New York Giants All-Time Team

By Larry Schmitt with contributions from Daniel Franck, Rev. Mike Moran, and Eric Kennedy
Special thanks to John Berti for use of his exclusive All-Time Giants roster.

The 2014 season will be the New York Football Giants 90th campaign, giving them the fourth-longest tenure in the National Football League. The franchise has won the third-most titles in league history, has the third-largest membership enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and has retired the second-most jersey numbers.

A legacy with such breadth and depth requires an adjustment by the observer to appreciate the men whose shoulders the players and coaches of today stand upon. The timeline of professional football is a continuum of experimentation, change, evolution, and adaptation.

Over that span of time, the franchise has played 1,289 regular- and post-season games with 1,631 players on their active game-day roster. Some might consider the intent of distilling those numbers in a qualitative manner to be sheer absurdity. To do so in a mass manner probably would be.

Identifying and defining specific eras that represent the main epochs the players performed in was the first step. How many times have you heard an announcer describe a current player as being a “throw-back”? Certainly a remark like that is intended to be a compliment, but upon further analysis, what specific attributes make him a “throw-back”? What point in time are you throwing him back to? The 1980’s…1950’s…1920’s? They are all significantly different, and that is where we started.

I say “we” because this admittedly ambitious task proved to be far more than I could absorb on my own. I felt it to be of great importance to be done properly and respectfully. I was quick to reach out for assistance in both research and critical feedback. My underlying theme the entire time was to “be objective without being arbitrary.” The distinct rosters of players and coaches are not simply a reflection of my opinion. I removed and added names in deference to the beliefs of others.

Recognizing the player’s unique talents within the framework of the period they performed in is essential. I do not buy into the belief that players today are superior to the ones prior because they train year round and are allegedly stronger and faster. Most today would not fare well at all in the single-platoon era. The linemen are too heavy and would lack the stamina to play both sides of the ball for at least 45 minutes. The receivers and defensive backs are too small and would not withstand the pounding. The pocket quarterbacks are too immobile to play defense.

I am not saying the players of the early era are better either. The truth is the game has become specialized. Coaches have different philosophies and expectations, rules have changed, and equipment has evolved. All of these variables have influenced what a football player needed to be in his respective time.

Once the periods were defined, the next challenge was deciding who was worthy. The theme that arose numerous times was weighing a steady performance over a lengthy period of time versus a high level of performance in a relatively brief span. The answer to that question is not an easy one. The example that illustrates this best is the careers of Charlie Conerly and Y.A. Tittle. Hence the decision to include the “honorable mention” designation. Of course, this presented a new challenge. While we strove to keep this project as inclusive as possible, we walked a tight rope of mentioning so many other players that the honor would become diminished.

Statistics were taken into account of course, but they are just a reference and not the sole basis for analysis. Passing and receiving records are reset at such a pace today that they are a blur and easy to ignore. Are the passers and receivers that much better than the ones of yesteryear? Of course not. Ed Danowski would have loved to have been able to throw a pass behind a pocket where his linemen were permitted to block with their hands, giving him time to read through his progressions to find a receiver freely roaming through a defense that was bound with restrictions on contact before and after the ball arrived.

Conerly’s season-high of 2,175 passing yards in 1948 is no more or less impressive than Eli Manning’s 4,933 in 2011. At the dawn of the passing era, teams typically had one end who was considered a receiving end while the other was essentially an in-line blocker. There were usually three backs behind the quarterback as well. The passing options were limited, the strategies still primitive, and the rules prohibitive. Teams ran the ball more because that was their best chance for success.

How does one evaluate a player with no measurable numbers in his body of work? One constant remains true in every era: offensive linemen toil in selfless service to their teams. They almost never appear in game write-ups or scoring summaries beyond the listing of the starting lineup. The same is true in yearbooks: little more than a tabulation of game appearances and starts can be expected to be found. In these cases, tenure and team success became the accepted measure. The voices of those closest articulate it best:

It’s the plight of the offensive lineman. He’s expected to pull his weight, do his job and the only time he is noticed is when things go wrong. Let’s face it, linemen just don’t get the ink running backs, quarterbacks and receivers do. (John McVay, former Giants head coach.)

Offensive linemen are the last ones to be recognized, and unfairly too. Star ends and backs don’t mean a darn unless you have the linemen. (Allie Sherman on Darrell Dess.)

It’s important to be there for my teammates and not let anyone down. You want to be part of a group that consistently stays on the field. (Kareem McKenzie when discussing the possible implications of a knee injury.)

In 1925, a statement like that was taken literally. The Giants starting 11 were just that. And the team that took the field for the New York Giants first game in Providence, Rhode Island in October of 1925 looked a lot different than the one that will be on the field in September of 2014.

The 2014 Giants will have 22 starters, 11 for each side of the ball. That number rises even higher when specialists for place kicking, punting, long snapping, and returners are taken into consideration. In the early years, roster size demanded versatility. Players who were singularly-talented in 1925 were a luxury who could not be afforded. The NFL roster in 1925 was 16 players – a contingent that would not even comprise a single platoon in 2014.

Versatility was not the only attribute a player in 1925 needed. Endurance and toughness were equally important. When Benny Friedman threw an interception, he did not walk over to the Giants bench to put on a headset and talk to a coach in the press box. First, there was no such coach to review misreads, coverages, and progressions. Second, he just stepped into the defensive huddle and dropped back to his safety position. His best response was to intercept his counterpart and get the ball back, if they chose to even pass the ball.

The factors influencing this have to do both with rules and equipment. The ball in use at the time had a broad circumference that was far better for drop kicking than passing. A rugby-style underhanded toss gave a more accurate trajectory than an overhand aerial, which was more like a heave of desperation. The rules of the day provided even greater risk. The passer had to be five yards behind the line of scrimmage to legally attempt a down-field throw; this usually alerted the defense that a forward pass was coming. A pass out-of-bounds or two successive incompletions resulted in a loss of possession, and an incompletion in the end zone was a touchback. When the offensive team was in an unfavorable position, the accepted strategy of the era was to quick kick or punt the ball away, maintain favorable field position, and wait for the opponent to make a mistake.

Generally speaking, following a change in possession, players would most often line up against the same counterpart. The offensive center was usually the middle guard or linebacker on defense. The offensive guards were the defensive tackles, the offensive tackles were the defensive ends, the fullback was the linebacker, the tailbacks and quarterback were the defensive halfbacks and safeties, and any number of the above would kick or punt.

Wing-style football offered deception and faking in the running game. The tailback was the primary ball handler, while the quarterback, who had the play calling responsibilities, was primarily a blocker. The off tackle slant was the basic play, and the tenet was to get to the point-of-attack and mow the defensive front down. Pass protection was weak due to the unbalanced line and backfield; the tailback often made his throws on the move.

Offensive lines were often unbalanced while defensive lines were spread out wide, usually covering the outside shoulders of the offensive ends. The center could snap the ball to any member of the backfield. Passes were thrown up for grabs in rudimentary fashion while the most complex execution was displayed on end-around runs, reverses, laterals, and spinners.

The style of play was different as players needed to preserve their bodies. Blocking and tackling were done with the shoulders and side body; players avoided pile-ups and rarely launched themselves at the opposition. Enduring the full 60-minute contest was considered a badge of honor. Anyone who asked out of a game risked his reputation among his peers. If a player was taken out of a game for injury, he was ineligible to return until the start of the next quarter. Free substitution, which was not experimented with until World War II, put constraints on rosters and was not adopted full time until 1949.

The NFL followed the college rule book until 1933 and did not distinguish itself until it began to craft its own style. The football itself was gradually streamlined until it reached its current dimensions of 11 inches in length and 21.25 – 21.50 inches in circumference at the center in 1934. The pros first step forward toward innovation was the exploration of the passing offense, while the colleges remained firmly grounded with the run.

While football slowly became more strategically complicated, it remained brutally fundamental. Mass interference at the line of scrimmage remained the favored method of advancing the ball until the early 1950’s. Significant steps to facilitate ball movement and scoring were taken in 1933: goal posts were moved up from the end line to the goal line, hash marks were placed 10 yards in from the sidelines (called “in-bounds lines”), and forward passing was allowed from anywhere behind the line of scrimmage. Players emerged from the morass and became more visible in the open spaces, occasionally offering hints of technical specialization. The league was divided into two divisions, with the first-place teams meeting to decide the championship.

In 1936, the first organized college draft was held, just in time for the Giants first training camp featuring tackling dummies and blocking sleds. The following year the NFL formed its own rules committee to look for ways to improve the game. Their first major decision was to institute the roughing-the-passer personal foul in 1938. All of this differentiated the professionals (still commonly referred to as “post graduates”) from the colleges, stimulated fan interest, and helped to stabilize league. Franchises folded and relocated far less frequently. Schedules remained unbalanced and unorganized but rosters became more settled. By the close of the 1940’s, rosters had doubled in size to 32, and finally, pro football re-integrated in 1946.

The All-Time New York Giants Team from professional football’s nascent era represented New York as well as any group of players and coaches from any other era. Although they won three world championships, they were not glamorous and many have faded toward obscurity. But that does not diminish their significance nor diminish their importance. These New York Giants played for the simple love of the game more than any generation that has come since.

Single-Wing / Single-Platoon Era (1925 – 1949)
Ward Cuff (14), Tuffy Leemans (4), New York Giants (1939)

Ward Cuff (14), Tuffy Leemans (4), New York Giants (1939)

Head Coach – Steve Owen (1931-53), Left Tackle (1926-31)

  • All-Decade Team 1920’s (Tackle 1926-31)
  • HOF Class of 1966
  • NYG Ring of Honor 2010
  • First-Team All-Pro*: 1927

One of the NFL’s best tackles in the 1920’s. Won three championships with the Giants; one as a player in 1927 and two as head coach in 1934 and ’38. Giants all-time leader in coaching victories, his teams won eight NFL Eastern Division titles. Considered a defensive coaching genius of his era. Pioneered early implementation of hybrid linebackers as far back as the 1930’s. Devised the Umbrella Defense in 1950, which included early implementation of zone coverage, to neutralize the Cleveland Browns passing attack. Offensively, created his signature A-Formation that featured an unbalanced line and backfield. “The best offense can be built around ten basic plays. Defense can be built on two. All the rest is razzle-dazzle, egomania and box office.” Owen’s Giants defenses led the NFL in fewest yards allowed six times, fewest points surrendered five times, and most takeaways eight times.

Left End – Red Badgro (1930-35)

  • HOF Class of 1981

Fierce competitor, superior defender, big-play receiver, and an excellent blocker who often lined up against the opposition’s best defender. Scored the first touchdown in an NFL Championship game in 1933 on a 29-yard reception. Tied for most pass receptions in NFL in 1934. Red Grange: “I played with Red one year with the New York Yankees and against him the five seasons he was with the Giants. Playing both offense and defense, he was one of the half-dozen best ends I ever saw.”

Left Tackle – Frank Cope (1938-47)

  • All-Decade Team 1930’s

Stout on both sides of the line. Driving run blocker and aggressive defender. In 1944, he blocked four punts, all of which were returned for touchdowns.

Honorable Mention – Bill Morgan (1933-36)

  • First-Team All-Pro: 1935

Columbia University Head Coach Lou Little said after “The Sneakers Game,” where Morgan was outweighed by an average of 25 pounds by the Bears: “Morgan’s was the greatest exhibition of line play I’ve ever seen. It’s a perfect example of what a one-man rampage can do to a great running attack.” Also cited by Wellington Mara for “perhaps the greatest single game ever played at defensive tackle for us.”

Honorable Mention – Len Grant (1930-37)

  • First-Team All-Pro: 1931, ‘32

Started in the first three NFL Championship Games. Team captain in 1936. Strong and agile. Inspirational leader.

Left Guard – John Dell Isola (1934-40), Assistant Coach (1957-59)

Started at center, moved to guard. Great run blocker on offense. Courageous performer in 1938 NFL Championship Game. Vicious linebacker on defense. Instinctive and competitive player. Very physical.

Center – Mel Hein (1931-45)

  • All-Decade Team 1930’s
  • NFL 75th Anniversary Team
  • NFL All-Time Two-Way Team
  • HOF Class of 1963
  • NFL MVP 1938
  • #7 retired 1963
  • NYG Ring of Honor 2010
  • First-Team All-Pro: 1934, ’35, ’38, ’39, ‘40

One of the finest centers ever to play football. Was also a fantastic middle guard/linebacker who could impact the course of a game. Had the speed to cover ends like Don Hutson while making bone-jarring tackles of power backs such as Bronko Naguski. Had an interception return for a touchdown in a key late-season victory over Green Bay in 1938. The NFL’s version of Lou Gehrig: a true 60-minute player who never left the field during Steve Owens’s two-platoon system. His 15 seasons played have only been matched twice in Giants history. Combined great stamina, mental alertness, and superior athletic ability to become an exceptional star. Giants captain for 10 seasons. Linchpin of the A-Formation’s success. Powerful and intelligent, exceptional at angle blocking defenders.

Right Guard – Len Younce (1941, 1943-44, 1946-48)

  • All-Decade Team 1940’s
  • First-Team All-Pro: 1944

The New York Giants selected Younce in the eighth round of the 1941 NFL Draft. Played six seasons on the offensive line, helping the team reach the NFL Title game three times. Strong run blocker. Also played linebacker, and handled punting and placekicking duties at times. Set the Giants record for longest punt with a 74-yard effort in 1943 which lasted 58 years. Returned an interception for a touchdown versus the Steagles in 1943, led the league in punting yards in 1944, and made 36-of-37 extra-point attempts in 1948. Finished his career with 10 interceptions.

Right Tackle – Al Blozis (1942-44)

  • All-Decade Team 1940’s
  • #32 retired 1945
  • NYG Ring of Honor 2010
  • First-Team All-Pro: 1943

Considered to be on his way to becoming an all-time great before being killed in WWII, possibly a Pro Football HOF talent. Possessed tremendous strength and athleticism. As a rookie in 1942, had a one-handed sack of Sammy Baugh. Coach Steve Owen told Wellington Mara, “He’ll be the best tackle who ever put on a pair of shoes.” Hein, who played alongside Blozis on offense and behind him on defense, said, “If he hadn’t been killed, he could have been the greatest tackle who ever played football. I felt comfortable having him next to me. He was real strong and real fast. He made tackles all over the field. He was good his first year; the second year he was great.”

Honorable Mention – Cal Hubbard (1927-28, 1936)

  • HOF Class of 1963
  • All-Decade Team 1920’s
  • NFL All-Time Two-Way Team
  • First-Team All-Pro: 1927

A stalwart of the 1920’s era. Key member of the 1927 Giants who outscored their opposition 177-20. 6’5”, 250 pounds, ran the 100-yard dash in 11 seconds. Powerful blocker, destroyed opposing lines. Sometimes used on tackle-eligible pass plays. Given pursuit responsibility on defense. Steve Owen said, “He was fast and hit like a sledgehammer.”

Right End – Ray Flaherty (1928-29, 1931-35)

  • HOF Class of 1976
  • #1 retired 1935
  • First-Team All-Pro: 1929, ‘32

The Giants first team captain. Led the NFL in receptions, yards, and touchdown receptions in 1932, the first year statistics were officially recorded. Had very good speed and made big plays. An excellent defensive player. Suggested the Giants switch to sneakers during the 1934 NFL Championship Game. Served double-duty as player/coach for two games during the 1933 preseason while Steve Owen tended to his wife with a terminal illness, and was a player/coach for the full 1935 season.

Honorable Mention- Jim Poole (1937-41, 1945-46)

  • First-Team All-Pro: 1939, ‘46

Large player for his era. Crashing end on defense and strong blocker on offense. Reliable receiver. Blocked two punts in the 1938 NFL Championship Game. Led Giants in receptions in 1946. Cited by Steve Owen as one of the best the Giants ever had.

Tailback – Ed Danowski (1934-41)

  • First-Team All-Pro 1935, ‘38

Led the NFL in passing yards in 1935. Won two NFL Championships as starting tailback. Passed and ran for touchdowns in 1934 NFL Championship Game versus Chicago in 1934. Threw winning touchdown in NFL Championship Game versus Green Bay in 1938. Has the longest Giants punt in a post-season contest.

Honorable Mention – Benny Friedman (1929-31)

  • HOF Class of 2005
  • First-Team All-Pro: 1929, ‘30

The NFL’s first great passer of the 1920’s. Helped to attract the public’s attention to the pro game with his passing highlights featured in newsreels. Also a premier ball-carrier who ran with power. The Giants scored 312 points in 1929 (no other team even scored 200) with Friedman setting an NFL record with 20 touchdown passes. He also rushed for two touchdowns and led the NFL in point-after-touchdowns. Intelligent player/coach. Was in line to become the Giants head coach in 1932 but left the team following a contract dispute.

Halfback/Wingback – Ken Strong (1933-39, 1944-47), Assistant Coach (1940, 1961-65)

  • All-Decade Team 1930’s
  • HOF Class of 1967
  • #50 retired 1947
  • NYG Ring of Honor 2010
  • First-Team All-Pro: 1933

One of the most versatile players of his era: triple-threat rusher, receiver, and passer from the backfield. Place kicked and punted. Vicious blocker – considered one of the best of his era. Also one of the best defensive players of his era. Accurate straight-ahead kicker. Scored 17 points, an NFL Championship Game record that stood for almost 30 years, including two fourth-quarter touchdowns in the 1934 NFL Championship Game versus the undefeated Bears. Returned to Giants as place-kicking specialist in 1940’s. Served as kicking coach after playing career ended. Led the NFL in scoring in 1933 and retired as the Giants all-time scoring leader. Has the Giants longest punt return in a post-season game. Also scored on a 42-yard touchdown reception from Ed Danowski in the 1935 NFL Championship Game.

Honorable Mention – Ward Cuff (1937-45)

  • #14 retired 1946

Never missed a game in 15 years. His 170 regular-season games still ranks 10th all-time for the Giants. Also played in eight championship games and one divisional playoff. Multi-positional player: halfback, wingback, defensive halfback. Also punted and place kicked. Led second-half effort in Giants 1938 NFL Championship Game. Led the Giants in receiving yards twice, the NFL in field goals three times, and the NFL in PAT’s once. Scored on a then-team record 96-yard interception return in season-finale versus Washington in 1938. Solid blocker as a wing back, fast enough to run a reverse, excellent coverman on defense. Exceptional straight-ahead kicker.

Fullback – Tuffy Leemans (1936-43), Assistant Coach (1943-44)

  • All-Decade Team 1930’s
  • HOF Class of 1978
  • #4 retired 1943
  • NYG Ring of Honor 2010
  • First-Team All-Pro: 1939

Led the NFL in rushing in 1936. Threw 25 TD passes over career during regular season, one in 1939 NFL Championship Game. Retired as the Giants career rushing leader in 1943. Scored a touchdown in 1938 NFL Championship Game versus Green Bay. Steady defensive player. Commissioner Bert Bell: “Leemans makes all tacklers look bad.” Fierce competitor, played through injuries. Known by fans as “Mr. Giant.” Strong short-yardage back with break-away speed. Also lead the Giants in passing twice.

Honorable Mention – Hank Soar (1937-44, 1946)

Multi-position player on offense; outstanding defensive halfback and safety. One of Steve Owen’s favorite players. Called the Giants defenses, which led the NFL in fewest points allowed four times during his career. Scored the winning touchdown in the 1938 NFL Championship Game.

Blocking Back/Quarterback – Dale Burnett (1930-39)

Versatile offensive player with speed and agility. Blocked and handled the ball well. Very good in coverage on defense. Returned an interception 84 yards for a touchdown (a team record at the time) in a late-season win versus Green Bay in 1933. At the time of his retirement, his 25 touchdowns scored was the franchise record.


Leather helmets, the Single Wing, and six-man defensive lines were relegated obsolete by the middle of professional football’s most romanticized decade – the 1950’s. Pocket protection, men-in-motion, and coordinated defenses attracted a new, more analytical audience. Nevertheless, the game was still as physical as ever as the NFL signed its first network television contract with DuMont in 1953.

In 1951, interior linemen were no longer permitted to run interference downfield on pass plays. Offensive strategies calibrated their timing and exploited space as they attacked further away from the line of scrimmage. Defenses responded by emphasizing athleticism over brute force. In 1954, all players entering the league were required to wear facemasks, even if some of them were Lucite.

Schedules were better organized as teams played a set 12-game schedule that featured round robins within their respective conference and rotations with half the teams in the other conference. As the league prospered, player salaries gradually increased. Coaches deepened preparation with film study, scouting, and staffs that now had coordinators and position coaches. The players unionized with the formation of the NFL Players Association in 1956.

The 1960’s was a decade of expansion. New teams joined the NFL as it competed with the new AFL. A league-wide television deal was finalized in 1961 ensuring that every game would be broadcast. That same season, the 14-game schedule was introduced. In 1965, the game-day officiating crew increased from five to six when the Line Judge was added.

By the end of the decade, defenses gained the advantage over complex offenses by employing more involved strategies of their own – lateral movement, play recognition, and zone coverages were a part of every defensive scheme. For the first time in three decades, scoring was on the decline.

Part of the reason for a decrease in offensive touchdowns was a quantum leap in the quality of place kicking. The new breed of soccer-style kicking had an immediate impact on the game. In 1968, the NFL experimented during the preseason by not allowing teams to kick the point-after-touchdown during inter-league NFL-AFL matchups. Instead, teams had to run a play from scrimmage.

Following the AFL-NFL merger, two waves of drastic changes to tip the advantage back to the offense were implemented by the rules committee. The first came in 1974. Kickoffs were moved back from the 40-yard line to the 35-yard line and the goal posts were moved back from the goal line to the end line. The penalty for offensive holding was reduced from 15 yards to 10 yards. Also, a 15-minute overtime period was added to regular season games, making the anti-climactic tie games a rarity. Rosters grew past the 40-player plateau and reached 43 by 1977. The age of specialization was dawning.

The New York Giants who played during this era may have only claimed one world championship of their own, but they were just as talented as the players from the other two eras. They grew with the times and gained their own unique recognition as professional football ascended to the forefront of public consciousness. There are more Giant players and coaches enshrined in Canton from this era than any other.

Pro T / Two-Platoon Era (1950 – 1977)
Frank Gifford (16), Ray Wietecha (55), Alex Webster (29), New York Giants (November 13, 1955)

Frank Gifford (16), Ray Wietecha (55), Alex Webster (29), New York Giants (November 13, 1955)

Head Coach – Jim Lee Howell (1954-60), Right End (1937-42, 1946-47), Assistant Coach (1951-53)

  • NYG Ring of Honor 2010

Played end and coached ends under Steve Owen. Blocked a punt in the 1938 NFL Championship Game. As head coach, led the Giants to three Eastern Conference titles and the 1956 NFL Championship. Never had losing season as head coach. Was the first head coach to explicitly delegate authority to offensive and defensive coordinators, which gave rise to the modern coaching staff.

Offensive Coordinator – Vince Lombardi (1954-58)

  • Pro Football HOF Class of 1971

Implemented modern T-Formation offense with the Giants. Made the sweep his signature play. Helped make stars of Roosevelt Brown and Frank Gifford. The Giants ranked in the top three in the NFL for fewest turnovers in four of his five seasons as coordinator.

Defensive Coordinator – Tom Landry (1956-59), Defensive Halfback/Punter (1950-55), Player/Assistant Coach (1951-53), Player/Defensive Coordinator (1954-55)

  • Pro Football HOF Class of 1990
  • First-Team All-Pro 1954

Intelligent player, sure tackler. Served as player/coach and quasi-coordinator under Steve Owen. Revolutionized how defensive football is understood and coached. Emphasized charting tendencies and reading keys. Holds Giants record with an interception in seven consecutive games. The first Giant to return interceptions for touchdowns in consecutive games. Also punted. Owen called him “the quarterback” of the defense. The Giants defense led the NFL in fewest yards allowed 1956 and 1959 and the fewest points surrendered in 1958 and 1959. The 1954 Giants defense led the NFL in takeaways.

Split End – Del Shofner (1961-67)

  • All-Decade Team 1960’s
  • First-Team All-Pro: 1961, ’62, ‘63

The Giants first 1,000-yard receiver. Holds team record with 269 receiving yards in a game. Second highest yards-per-reception in team history (18.1) for a player with over 150 catches. Had four games where he scored three touchdowns, a team record. 13 career 100-yard receiving games.

Honorable Mention – Homer Jones (1964-69)

NFL’s all-time leader in yards-per-reception (22.3). Holds team record with 13 touchdown catches in a season. Fifth all-time for Giants in receiving yards and touchdowns. Led the NFL with 13 touchdowns in 1967. 10 touchdowns of 70 or more yards are the most in Giants history. Seventeen 100-yard receiving games second most in team history.

Left Tackle – Roosevelt Brown (1953-65), Assistant Coach (1967-70), Scout (1971-2003)

  • HOF Class of 1975
  • All-Decade Team 1950’s
  • NFL 75th Anniversary Team
  • NYG Ring of Honor 2010
  • First-Team All-Pro: 1956, ’57, ’58, ’59, ’61, ‘62

Starting left tackle for 13 consecutive seasons. Played in nine Pro Bowls. Powerful drive blocker with the speed and athleticism to run interference downfield and on sweeps. Played defense in short yardage and on the goal line. Was only the second modern era offensive lineman enshrined in the Pro Football HOF.

Honorable Mention – Willie Young (1966-75)

Came to Giants as a defensive tackle, switched to offense during second season. Somewhat undersized but strong, quick, and athletic. Appeared in 135 games.

Left Guard – Darrell Dess (1959-64, 1966-69)

Excellent pass blocker who was adept at pulling to lead sweeps. Smart and efficient player who was able to block and control larger defensive opponents. Played in 120 games.

Honorable Mention – Bill Austin (1949-50, 1953-57), Assistant Coach (1979-82)

Appeared in 75 games. Began as a two-way player before being permanently entrenched at offensive guard. Was a key component in the Giants Power-T formation in the mid 1950’s pulling on sweeps. Started in the 1956 NFL Championship Game.

Center – Greg Larson (1961-73)

Versatile – started at tackle and guard before moving to center. Tough player who led by example. Returned from a severe knee injury in 1964 and played in the 1966 Pro Bowl. Played in 179 games.

Honorable Mention – Ray Wietecha (1953-62)

  • First-Team All-Pro: 1958

Retired with Giants team record 133 consecutive games played. Quick and aggressive. Referred to by Allie Sherman as “the quarterback up front.”

Right Guard – Doug Van Horn (1968-79)

Steady performer at multiple positions. Giants team captain in 1976. Great technician who used quickness and footwork to redirect opponents. Played in 172 games with 169 starts.

Right Tackle – Jack Stroud (1953-64)

Tough, multi-position performer. Played through injury and was respected by both teammates and opponents. Athletic, excelled as a pass-blocking tackle and pulling guard on sweeps. Was the Giants offensive captain. Appeared in 132 games.

Tight End – Bob Tucker (1970-77)

Led the NFC in receptions 1971. Sure-handed receiver. John Mara: “Bob was revolutionary for his time.” Was a very reliable performer despite playing with numerous quarterbacks throughout his career. Had five 100-yard receiving games.

Flanker – Kyle Rote (1951-61)

Giants team captain. Adept at underneath routes to covert third downs. Started as a halfback, but knee injury necessitated change of position after rookie season. Combined power, polish, and determination in all his roles. Franchise touchdown-receiving record stood for 47 years.

Honorable Mention – Joe Morrison (1959-72)

  • #40 retired 1972
  • NYG Ring of Honor 2010

Played six different positions over 14 years with the Giants, including defensive back. Retired as the team franchise leader in receptions and receiving yards. Holds team record with touchdown receptions in seven consecutive games. As a receiver, third all-time team leader in catches, fourth in yards, and third in touchdowns.

Halfback – Frank Gifford (1952-60, 1962-64)

  • HOF Class of 1977
  • All-Decade Team 1950’s
  • NFL MVP 1956
  • #16 retired 2000
  • NYG Ring of Honor 2010
  • First-Team All-Pro: 1955, ’56, ’57, ’59

One of the most versatile athletes ever to wear a uniform. The only player in NFL history to play in the Pro Bowl on offense and defense, and at three different positions: defensive halfback, halfback, and flanker. Retired as the Giants all-time leader in all-purpose yards. Scored the most touchdowns in Giants history (34 rushing, 43 receiving, one interception return). Also threw 14 touchdown passes, kicked 10 point-afters, and two field goals. Scored touchdowns in three NFL Championship Games. Holds team record for touchdowns in 10 consecutive games. Led the NFL in all-purpose yards in 1956 and retired with team record 9,862 all-purpose yards.

Fullback – Alex Webster (1955-64), Assistant Coach (1967-68), Head Coach (1969-73)

  • NYG Ring of Honor 2011

Inspirational leader who often played through injury. Great runner who became a reliable blocker and receiver. Retired as the Giants all-time leader in rushing yards and touchdowns (still ranks fifth in both). Scored two touchdowns in the 1956 NFL Championship Game versus the Chicago Bears. Retired as the Giants third all-time leading receiver in catches, fourth in yards, and fifth in touchdowns.

Quarterback – Charlie Conerly (1948-61)

  • #42 retired 1962
  • NFL MVP 1959
  • NYG Ring of Honor 2010

Retired with all Giants major passing records. Started as tailback in A-Formation. Set NFL record for passing touchdowns for a rookie in 1948 – a record which stood until 1998. Quietly tough, led by example. The Giants leading passer for 12 consecutive seasons. At the time of his retirement, his 14 years of service were second only to Mel Hein’s 15. His single-season records of touchdowns passing and yards passing stood until Y.A. Tittle broke them. Threw two touchdown passes in the 1956 NFL Championship Game and rushed for the game’s only touchdown in the 1958 Eastern Conference Playoff versus Cleveland.

Honorable Mention – Y.A. Tittle (1961-64)

  • HOF Class of 1971
  • #14 retired 1965
  • NFL MVP 1961, ‘63
  • NYG Ring of Honor 2010
  • First-Team All-Pro: 1962,’63

The quality of his quarterbacking over a three-year span has never been surpassed in team history at a time when his career was thought to be finished. Set the NFL single-season passing touchdown record in 1962 and surpassed it in 1963, a record that lasted until 1984. Led the Giants to three consecutive Eastern Conference titles. Set Giants record for passing yards in a season in 1962, which lasted until 1984. Exuberant leader. His 18 games with three touchdown passes were a team high at the time of his retirement. Was the first Giant to achieve a perfect passer rating of 158.3 in 1963.

Weakside End – Andy Robustelli (1956-64), General Manager (1974-78)

  • HOF class of 1971
  • NYG Ring of Honor 2010
  • First-Team All-Pro: 1956, ’58, ’59, ‘60

Leader of the Giants defenses of the late 1950’s and early ’60’s. Masterful pass rusher with a variety of moves. Saved his best for big plays near the end of games. Unofficially had 79 career sacks. Served as player/coach in 1962-64. Supplied the entire Giants team with sneakers for the 1956 NFL Championship Game.

Defensive Tackle – Arnie Weinmeister (1950-53)

  • HOF Class of 1984
  • All-Decade Team 1950’s
  • First-Team All-Pro: 1950, ’51, ’52, ‘53

Combined speed, power, and a relentless desire to become one of the most disruptive players from the defensive tackle position in history. One of the first defensive players to cultivate fan interest and gain notoriety. Keen instincts, diagnosed plays at the snap. Sometimes unstoppable interior pass rusher. Talents allowed Steve Owen to drop ends into coverage in the Umbrella Defense.

Honorable Mention – Dick Modzelewski (1956-63)

Stabilizing force in the middle of the defense. Strong and smart, covered multiple gaps. Steady performer who excelled in short-yardage and goal-line situations.

Defensive Tackle – John Mendenhall (1972-79)

Stout run defender who also provided consistent interior pass rush. Unofficially had 39.5 career sacks, including 11 in 1974 and 10 in 1977. Harry Carson: “He made me look good. He was hard to block, he was very quick. We played off each other.”

Honorable Mention – Roosevelt Grier (1955-56, 1958-62)

  • First-Team All-Pro 1956

One of the first large tackles, out-weighing most offensive linemen. Physically became the prototype. Sometimes an inconsistent performer, but on his good days was among the best of his era and would wreak havoc on the opposition.

Strongside End – Jim Katcavage (1956-68)

  • First-Team All-Pro: 1961, ‘63

Physical player – the perfect book end for counterpart Andy Robustelli. Penetrated the line and redirected plays back inside. Has the most defensive fumbles recovered in Giants history and the most safeties with three (the latter also an NFL record). Unofficially had a 7-sack game and 96.5 over his career.

Weakside Linebacker – Harland Svare (1955-60), Defensive Coordinator (1961, 1967-68)

Tough, quick, aggressive, smart. Served as player/coach in 1960.

Middle Linebacker – Sam Huff (1956-63)

  • HOF Class of 1982
  • All-Decade Team 1950’s
  • NYG Ring of Honor 2010
  • First-Team All-Pro: 1958, ‘59

Anchored the Giants great defenses that won six Eastern Conference titles and the NFL Championship in 1956. Elevated the stature of defensive players in fan consciousness with one-on-one confrontations with Jim Brown and Jim Taylor. Was the prototypical middle linebacker in Tom Landry’s intricate defense. Took full advantage of every opportunity the opposition allowed him. Powerful run stuffer. Also provided good coverage skills evidenced by 18 interceptions. Scored four return touchdowns (two interceptions and two fumbles).

Strongside Linebacker – Brad Van Pelt (1973-83)

  • NYG Ring of Honor 2011

Excelled in pass coverage, had 18 career interceptions. Played in five Pro Bowls and was named Giants Player of the Decade of the 1970’s. Also played on special teams throughout entire career.

Cornerback – Erich Barnes (1961-64)

  • First-Team All-Pro: 1961

Aggressive, physical player and a good athlete. Occasionally played split end on offense – caught a 62-yard touchdown pass from Y.A. Tittle in 1961. Has the longest touchdown in franchise history – a 102-yard interception return in 1961 (which at the time tied the NFL record.)

Cornerback – Dick Lynch (1959-66)

  • NYG Ring of Honor 2010
  • First-Team All-Pro: 1963

Savvy player. A strong tackler in run support. Excelled in man-to-man coverage. Led the NFL in interceptions twice. Tied for first with most interception returns for touchdowns in Giants history, including team-record three in a single season. Had three games with three interceptions.

Weakside Safety – Emlen Tunnell (1948-59)

  • HOF Class of 1967
  • All-Decade Team 1950’s
  • NYG Ring of Honor 2010
  • First-Team All-Pro: 1951, ’52, ’55, ‘56

The Giants first African-American player. Retired as the NFL’s career-leader in interceptions. Tied for first with most interception returns for touchdowns. In 1952, he had more return yardage on punts and interceptions than the NFL’s rushing leader. Incredible ball instincts, soft hands, fluid moves. Played offense as well in first two seasons. A key to the Umbrella Defense’s success. Was the only defender permitted to freelance through zones. Sure tackler.

Honorable Mention – Carl “Spider” Lockhart (1965-75)

Hard hitter and sure tackler despite lack of size. One of only three Giants to return interceptions for touchdowns in consecutive games. Third in Giants history in career interceptions and second in defensive fumbles recovered. Also returned punts.

Strongside Safety – Jimmy Patton (1955-66)

  • First-Team All-Pro: 1958, ’59, ’60, ’61, ‘62

A stalwart of the Giants secondary. Consistently solid and occasionally spectacular performer. Second in team history with 52 career interceptions, and tied for first with 11 in a single season in 1958, which led the NFL. Fearless player and strong tackler despite lack of size. First player in NFL history to return a punt and kick for a touchdown in a game in 1955.

Place Kicker – Pete Gogolak (1966-74)

  • NYG Ring of Honor 2010

Professional football’s first soccer-style kicker. The first player to jump from the AFL to the NFL. The Giants all-time leader in field goals, extra points, and total points scored.

Punter – Don Chandler (1956-64)

  • All-Decade Team 1960’s

Solid punter who performed at his best in crucial situations. Also doubled as place kicker later in his career. Led the NFL in punting in 1958. Holds the Giants top two spots for highest punting average in post-season contests.

Kick Returner – Clarence Childs (1964-67)

Giants all-time leader in kickoff return yardage. One of only three Giants to return two for touchdowns. His 987 yards returned in 1964 remained a team record for 39 seasons. His 100-yard return in 1964 remains tied as the longest in franchise history.

Punt Returner – Emlen Tunnell** (1948-59)

Scored 10 return touchdowns with the Giants: five punts, four interceptions, and a kickoff. One of the best punt returners in NFL history. Second in Giants history with five punt returns for touchdowns. Was a master at faking the oncoming tackler into a move then sliding into the opening with a fluid side-step.

** Appears on team more than once.


The second wave of rule changes designed to liberate the passing offense and increase scoring took place in 1978; the same season the NFL went to a 16-game schedule, added a second Wild Card team to the post-season tournament, and bolstered rosters to 45 players.

The 5-yard bump rule was imposed on defensive players. Double touching of a forward pass by the offensive team became legal. Offensive linemen could now block with extended arms and open hands. The intentional grounding penalty was reduced from 15 yards to 10. Also, the Line Judge was added as the game-day seventh official. Enter the era of the frustrated defense.

It did not take long for the impact of these rules to achieve their desired impact: rushing attempts fell from 58% in 1977 to 56% in 1978 to 52% in 1979 to 49% in 1980. The NFL has remained a pass-first league ever since.

From 1982 through 1984, the game-day roster size increased to a high of 49 players, then dropped to 45, where it has remained. The larger rosters allowed players who were less well-rounded but more highly specialized to carve out niches for themselves on teams that valued their distinctive skill sets.

At one time there was little difference between a left end and right end on offense or between a safety and a halfback on defense. Today a team will stock a roster three deep at the tight end position alone: one who is an in-line blocker, one who flexes out as a receiver, and one who moves as an H-Back. Defensively, corners are now desired by the scheme they fit (man-on-man or zone coverage), with tackling ability possibly a secondary concern. The same is true of safeties; some play close to the line of scrimmage as a hybrid linebacker, some fill in a slot corner role. Linebackers are touted as 3-down players if they have multiple skills. Some offensive backs only play on third down. Since the advent of full free agency in 1993, players have had the opportunity to select the best fit for their careers, whether it is suitable for their talent or simply financial remuneration.

This current group of Giants players has won half of the franchise’s eight world championships. Some are still active and have not completed their stories. Few will spend their career with a single team, as they follow the current of the open market when they reach free agency. This is an echo from professional football’s earliest era when 60-minute players would sign game-to-game contracts as a supplementary income to their full-time jobs.

Post-Modern Era (1978 – 2013)
Leonard Marshall (70), Harry Carson (53), New York Giants (September 21, 1986)

Leonard Marshall (70), Harry Carson (53), New York Giants (September 21, 1986)

Head Coach – Bill Parcells (1983-90), Assistant Coach (1981-82)

  • HOF Class of 2013
  • NYG Ring of Honor 2010

Joined Giants staff as linebackers coach and defensive coordinator. Coached Lawrence Taylor as a rookie to All-Pro status. Culminated the revival of the struggling Giants franchise with their first league title in 30 years as head coach in 1986. That team’s 14 regular-season and 17 total wins stand as franchise single-season highs. Led the Giants to another NFL title in 1990. His eight career post-season wins are tied for first in Giants history.

Honorable Mention – Tom Coughlin (2004-present), Offensive Assistant Coach (1988-90)

Won three Super Bowls as member of Giants, first as receivers coach under Bill Parcells from 1988-90, then head coach in 2007 and 2011. Won at #1 and #2 NFC seeds in both post-seasons and defeated #1 AFC seed in both Super Bowls. Eight post-season wins tied for first in Giants history.

Offensive Coordinator – Ron Erhardt (1982-92)

Architect of versatile Giants offense that won two Super Bowls with two different quarterbacks and two different offensive lines that emphasized different blocking styles. Three times his offense was ranked in the top three for fewest turnovers.

Honorable Mention – Kevin Gilbride (2004-13)

Quarterbacks coach who assumed offensive coordinator position late in 2006 season. Offense led NFL in rushing in 2008, and featured two 1,000-yard backs for only the fourth time in NFL history. The 2007 Giants were fourth in the NFL in rushing while the 2011 Giants were fifth in the NFL in passing. Three performances in the 2011 post-season rank in the top six in franchise history in terms of single-game offensive yardage output.

Defensive Coordinator – Bill Belichick (1985-90), Defensive/Special Teams Assistant Coach (1979-84)

Began his career as special teams coach under Ray Perkins. Coached linebackers under Bill Parcells and took over defensive coordinator responsibilities in 1985. The 1989 Giants were second in the NFL in points allowed and the 1990 Giants were first in that category.

X Receiver – Amani Toomer (1996-2008)

  • NYG Ring of Honor 2010

The Giants all-time leading receiver in catches, yards, and touchdowns for both the regular- and post-seasons. Holds the Giant regular-season record for most 100-yard receiving games. Has the second-most punt returns for touchdowns. Giants second-leading scorer in the post-season (leading non-kicker). Twenty-two 100-yard receiving games most in Giants history.

Honorable Mention – Plaxico Burress (2005-08)

Holds franchise record for most receptions in a post-season game. Had 12 touchdown catches in 2007 and caught the winning touchdown in Super Bowl XLII.

Left Tackle – John “Jumbo” Elliott (1988-95)

Powerful, aggressive player and dominant run blocker despite battling back problems for much of his career. Appeared in 112 regular-season games with 98 starts; started in four post-season games including Super Bowl XXV. Received the Giants first ever “Franchise Player” designation in 1993.

Honorable Mention – David Diehl (2003-13)

Starting left tackle in Super Bowls XLII and XLVI. Durable, started 120 consecutive games from 2003-2010. Started at all line positions except center.

Left Guard – Rich Seubert (2001-10)

One of the toughest players ever to wear a Giants uniform. Earned a roster spot as an undrafted free agent in 2001. Suffered a serious leg injury in 2003, but rehabilitated and returned in 2005. Started all four post-season games in 2007.

Honorable Mention – William Roberts – (1984-94)

Played multiple positions. After missing the 1985 season with a knee injury, became a fixture at left guard beginning in 1987. Often played left tackle when Elliot struggled with back problems. Appeared as a reserve in Super Bowl XXI; started in Super Bowl XXV.

Center – Bart Oates (1985-93)

Played in 140 regular-season games and started 11 in the post-season, including Super Bowls XXI and XXV. The Giants had a 1,000-yard rusher in eight of his nine seasons.

Honorable Mention – Shaun O’Hara (2004-10)

Started 97 regular-season games and games six in the post-season, including Super Bowl XLII.

Right Guard – Chris Snee (2004-13)

  • First-Team All-Pro: 2008

One of the Giants most reliable linemen. Has started 141 regular-season games, plus 11 post-season games including Super Bowls XLII and XLVI.

Honorable Mention – Ron Stone (1996-2001)

Primary starter all six seasons, including all three games in the 2000 post-season. Powerful run blocker.

Right Tackle – Kareem McKenzie (2005-11)

Started 105 regular-season games and 11 post-season games, including Super Bowls XLII and XLVI.

Honorable Mention – Doug Reisenberg (1987-95)

Played in 135 regular-season games with 122 starts, plus six post-season games including Super Bowl XXV.

Tight End – Mark Bavaro (1985-90)

  • NYG Ring of Honor 2011
  • First-Team All-Pro: 1986, ‘87

Most 100-yard receiving games for a tight end in Giants history. Only Giants tight end to gain 1,000 yards in a season. Great in-line blocker. Scored go-ahead touchdown in third quarter of Super Bowl XXI. Nine 100-yards receiving games most for a tight end in franchise history.

Honorable Mention – Jeremy Shockey (2002-07)

  • First-Team All-Pro 2002

Eight 100-yard receiving games. Had a club high six 10-reception games.

Z Receiver – Victor Cruz (2010-present)

Holds Giants record for most receiving yards in a season with 1,536 in 2011. Seven touchdowns of 70 or more yards; second most in team history. Sixteen 100-yard receiving games third most in franchise history.

Halfback – Tiki Barber (1997-2006)

  • First-Team All-Pro 2005
  • NYG Ring of Honor 2010

Giants career rushing leader. Holds single-season records for most yards rushing, all-purpose yards, and receptions for a back. Had a club record thirty-eight 100-yard rushing games – including five 200-yard games which is tied for second most in NFL history. An excellent receiver, had three 10-reception games.

Honorable Mention – Rodney Hampton (1990-97)

Retired as Giants career-rushing leader. Holds team record for most rushing touchdowns in a game with four. Tied for the franchise record for most rushing yards in a post-season game and longest touchdown run in a post-season game. Had seventeen 100-yard rushing games and five consecutive 1,000-yard rushing seasons.

Fullback – Maurice Carthon (1985-92)

Lead blocker for three different 1,000-yard rushers.

Honorable Mention – Charles Way (1995-99)

In 1997, became most recent fullback to lead the Giants in rushing yards; also second on the team in receptions that season.

Quarterback – Eli Manning (2004-present)

Giants all-time leader in pass completions, passing yards, and touchdowns thrown in both the regular-season and post-season. NFL’s third all-time in consecutive games played. Has the most 300-yard passing games (38) and 400-yard passing games (4) in Giants history, plus one 500-yard passing game. His 30 games with three touchdown passes are a club record. MVP of Super Bowls XLII and XLVI. Eight post-season victories are the most in franchise history. Holds the team mark with six games with 30 or more pass completions.

Honorable Mention – Phil Simms (1979-93)

  • #11 retired 1995
  • NYG Ring of Honor 2010

MVP of Super Bowl XXI, his 88.0% completion percentage (22-for-25) is second all-time in NFL post-season history. Retired with all Giants passing records and most post-season victories. His 15 seasons played are tied with Mel Hein’s team record. The first Giant to pass for 4,000 yards in a season. Had 21 career 300-yard passing games, two 400-yard passing games, and his 513 yards are the franchise record for passing yards in a game. His 18 games with three touchdown passes are tied for second in team history. Set the club record with 40 pass completions in a game in 1985.

Weakside/Right Defensive End – Leonard Marshall (1983-92)

Officially has the franchise’s third-most career sacks (since 1982.) Led team in sacks twice. Second most post-season sacks in Giants history. Had two sacks in Super Bowl XXI and one in Super Bowl XXV. One of only two players in franchise history to record more than one safety. Had five career three-sack games.

Honorable Mention – Osi Umenyiora (2003-12)

  • First-Team All-Pro: 2005

Led or tied for the team lead in sacks six times. Holds team record with six sacks in a game. Had 5.5 sacks in the post-season. Tied an NFL record by blocking two punts in a game in 2003.

Defensive Tackle – Keith Hamilton (1992-2003)

Began career as strongside end in the 3-4; moved to tackle in the 4-3 and started at both interior positions. Was stout against the run but also provided interior pocket pressure. Led the Giants in sacks three times. Compiled 63 sacks and 14 fumble recoveries during his career and also registered a safety.

Nose Tackle Tackle – Jim Burt (1981-88)

Anchored a 3-4 line. Had two sacks in the 1985 Wild Card Playoff. Tough player who battled chronic back issues most of his career. Led Giants down linemen in tackles in 1984 and 1986.

Honorable Mention – Erik Howard (1986-94)

Forced Roger Craig fumble in waning moments of 1990 NFC Championship Game. Led Giants down linemen in tackles in the 1989 and 1990 regular-seasons and had the most tackles in the 1990 post-season.

Strongside/Left Defensive End – Michael Strahan (1993-2007)

  • HOF Class of 2014
  • All-Decade Team 2000’s
  • NYG Ring of Honor 2010
  • First-Team All-Pro: 1997, ’98, ’01, ‘03

His 15 seasons played matched Mel Hein and Phil Simms franchise record. Most games played as a Giant. Has the fifth-most sacks in NFL history, most in a single season, and second-most in Giants history (unofficially). Held the edge against the run as well as he rushed the passer. Led the NFL in sacks twice and the Giants seven times. Had seven games with at least three sacks. Most post-season sacks in Giants history.

Honorable Mention – George Martin (1975-88)

  • NYG Ring of Honor 2010

Retired with the most touchdowns scored as a defensive lineman in NFL history. Unofficially has 96 career sacks. Also caught a touchdown pass as a tight end. Scored a safety in Super Bowl XXI.

Honorable Mention – Justin Tuck (2005-13)

  • First Team All-Pro 2008

Had 60.5 sacks in the regular season and 5.5 in the post season. Two sacks each in super Bowls XLII and XLVI with a forced fumble and forced safety. A strong two-way defender who held the edge against the run while totaling four seasons with double-digit sack totals.

Strongside/Left Outside Linebacker – Carl Banks (1984-92)

  • NYG Ring of Honor 2011
  • First-Team All-Pro: 1987

Led the Giants in tackles in 1986 and 1987. Had two 10-tackle games in the 1986 post-season, including Super Bowl XXI. Led the defense with seven forced fumbles in 1989. Excellent in coverage, led Giants in passes defensed in 1991.

Inside Linebacker – Pepper Johnson (1986-92)

  • First-Team All-Pro: 1990

Led the Giants in tackles in 1990. Played a critical role in Bill Belichick’s “Big Nickel” defense in Super Bowl XXV – was on the field almost every snap. Had 14 tackles in the 1990 post-season while also playing special teams. Led the defense in tackles 1990-1992. Set a then-team record with 4.5 sacks in a game in 1992. Returned interceptions for touchdowns in 1988 and 1989.

Honorable Mention – Gary Reasons (1984-92)

Excellent in pass coverage. Had 30-yard rush on 4th quarter fake punt in 1990 NFC Championship Game. Led the Giants in fumble recoveries in 1990 and led the defense with six tackles in Super Bowl XXV. Intercepted 10 passes and recovered nine fumbles during his career.

Middle/Inside Linebacker – Harry Carson (1976-88)

  • HOF Class of 2006
  • NYG Ring of Honor 2010

Was a 13-year starter and 9-time Pro Bowler at two positions: middle linebacker in the 4-3 and inside linebacker in the 3-4. Had 20 solo tackles in a 1982 game vs Green Bay. Stout run defender who also intercepted 11 passes and recorded 17 sacks. Returned an interception for a touchdown in the 1984 NFC Divisional playoffs.

Weakside/Right Outside Linebacker – Lawrence Taylor (1981-93)

  • HOF Class of 1999
  • All-Decade Team 1980’s
  • NFL 75th Anniversary Team
  • NFL MVP 1986
  • #56 retired 1994
  • NYG Ring of Honor 2010
  • First-Team All-Pro: 1981, ’82, ’83, ’84, ’85’, ’86, ’88, ’89

The most decorated player in Giants history. Retired with the second-most sacks in NFL history. Revolutionized the way outside linebacker is played. One of the most disruptive defensive players in NFL history. Had 12 games with at least three sacks. Played in the most post-season contests in franchise history.

Honorable Mention – Jessie Armstead (1993-2001)

  • Ring of Honor 2010
  • First-Team All-Pro: 1997

Made the Giants as a special teams player and became a five-time Pro Bowl linebacker. Led the team in tackles three consecutive seasons 1996-1998; led the Giants in sacks in 1999.

Cornerback – Mark Collins (1986-93)

Led the Giants in interceptions twice. Led secondary in tackles in 1991. Sure tackler, strong in run support.

Honorable Mention – Corey Webster (2006-13)

Intercepted pass in overtime of 2007 NFC Championship Game to set up game-winning field goal. Defensed desperation pass to preserve win in Super Bowl XLII.

Cornerback – Mark Haynes (1980-85)

  • First-Team All-Pro 1982, ‘84

Recovered a fumble for a touchdown in the 1981 Wild Card Playoff at Philadelphia. Led the Giants with seven interceptions in 1984.

Honorable Mention – Jason Sehorn (1994-2002)

Tied with most interceptions returned for touchdowns in Giants history. Also returned an onsides kickoff for a touchdown. Led Giants in interceptions three times and has the most post-season interceptions in team history.

Free Safety – Antrel Rolle (2009-present)

A versatile playmaker who has played both safety positions and also slot corner. Led the Giants in tackles in 2011. His six interceptions in 2013 were a team high.

Honorable Mention – Terry Kinard (1983-89)

One of only four Giants to record three interceptions in a game. A hard hitter and exceptional tackler. Led the Giants secondary in tackles in 1984 and 1985 and interceptions in 1986 and 1989. Scored touchdowns on two interception returns.

Strong Safety – Greg Jackson (1989-93)

Strong run defender who made a lot of tackles. Led the defense in interceptions in 1992 and 1993, totaling 14 during his career.

Long Snapper – Zak DeOssie (2007-present)

Played in two Pro Bowls as a specialist. Has served as special teams captain three seasons and is often among the team leaders in special teams tackles.

Place Kicker – Lawrence Tynes (2007-12)

Second all-time leading scorer in Giants history. Only player in NFL history to successfully make two overtime field goals in the post-season. Kicked field goals in 26 consecutive games, a team record. Giants all-time leading scorer in the post-season. Successfully converted five field goals of 50 yards or more, third-most in team history. His 83.6% field goal conversion rate is the highest for all Giants kickers with at least 100 attempts.

Punter – Sean Landeta (1985-92)

  • All-Decade Team 1980’s
  • First-Team All-Pro: 1986, ’89, ‘90

Led the NFL in punting in 1990. Second highest punting average in franchise history.

Honorable Mention – Dave Jennings (1974-84)

  • NYG Ring of Honor Class of 2011
  • First-Team All-Pro: 1979, ‘80

Led the NFL in punting in 1979 and ’80. Holds the record for most punts in team history.

Kick Returner – David Meggett (1989-94)

Has the second-most kick return yards in Giants history. His kickoff return touchdown in 1992 was the Giants first in 20 seasons. More than just a great returner, was also the Giants third-down back. Set a then-team record with 1,807 all-purpose yards in 1989. Led the Giants in all-purpose yards four times. Threw three touchdown passes on the halfback option. Was the Giants leading receiver in 1990.

Punt Returner – David Meggett** (1989-94)

Returned a team-record six punts for touchdowns. Has the Giants most career punt return yards. Led the NFL in punt return yards in 1989 and 1990.


*A note on the All-Pro designations. Since the beginning of organized professional football in 1920, various media outlets created their own lists of All-Pro teams, using their own criteria. For the sake of simplicity and consistency we have chosen to use Pro-Football-Reference.com as our singular source. They acknowledge First-Team All-Pro selections from The Green Bay Press-Gazette 1925-1930, United Press International from 1931-39, and The Associated Press from 1940 through the present.

** Appears on team more than once.

New York Giants All-Time Most Valuable Players and Players of the YearMost Decorated New York Giants