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For every Big Blue Breakdown we’ve run, I’ve enjoyed taking a part in each. Having my thoughts, opinions and analysis placed next to the best of the best in the business was an honor. With that being said, I’m sitting this one out. With this being my first season covering the team, I think it’s appropriate to hand it over to the veterans.
For the last decade, Chris Snee worked to establish himself as one of the greatest New York Giants’ linemen to ever wear the ‘NY’ logo across his helmet. He exemplified what it meant to be a New York Giant. Today, our panel breaks down their favorite Chris Snee memory from their years covering the team.
QUESTION: With Chris Snee hanging up the cleats, it closes the door on one of the better careers in Giants’ history. What’s your favorite Chris Snee moment from covering the team? What will you remember him by?
RALPH VACCHIANO/Daily News
I’ve been trying to think of a specific memory I have of him — something fun or funny — but I can’t. And that’s not really an indictment of him, it sort of more of a tribute, when you think about it. He’s been described by his coach and so many others as a “lunchpail guy” who, for 10 years, just came to work, did his job and didn’t cause any trouble. In a lot of ways he was almost unnoticeable, which is the dream of offensive linemen. For a decade, you didn’t worry about the right guard spot in the Giants’ lineup. You didn’t question that Snee was going to be in there and play well. He wasn’t a guy we had to rush to after the game to get a quote, because he wasn’t going to put on some me-first show for the media. He wasn’t the center of attention. He was just a good member of the team.
Don’t misinterpret that either. He was as cooperative a player as I’ve dealt with in this era. If a reporter needed a few minutes of his time, he gave it. His answers were thoughtful, insightful, if not headline-worthy. He didn’t duck any question either — not his relationship with his father-in-law coach (which especially early couldn’t have been his favorite topic), not the terrible play of the offensive line in some years. A lot of fans might not realize that when the Giants are having a bad year or suffer a bad loss, there aren’t a lot of players willing to stand up and take the heat. Reporters often end up confronting a mostly empty locker room. But I almost always could count on Snee being out there after a bad game. As a matter of fact, if he ever did duck the media I’d bet it was after a win — when he didn’t want the appearance of taking any credit.
Anyway, his desire to be behind the scenes is probably why I can’t come up with a good story for you. But I do have good memories of him and he will be missed. Aside from being a good, fun, pleasant and cooperative guy to talk to, I will most remember him the way I bet he wants to be remembered: As part of a group of five guys who were the best offensive line I’ve covered in my now 20 years covering the NFL. That group — David Diehl, Rich Seubert, Shaun O’Hara, Snee and Kareem McKenzie — kind of snuck up on us. They didn’t get a lot of praise at first and there always seemed to be a lot of questions about whether the Giants needed an upgrade. They were together from 2006-10 and, despite a championship in 2007, I think it took most people until they were gone to realize how great they were. And look, I grew up in the ’80s so I know how good “The Suburbanites” were. We could debate all day which group was better. But you have to put this group in the conversation, I’d think. And Snee has to be in the conversation when talking about the best Giants offensive linemen of all time.
ART STAPLETON/The Record
For me it’s an easy one. 2011 NFC Championship Game in San Francisco, in the bowels of Candlestick Park about 30 minutes after Lawrence Tynes booted the Giants to Super Bowl XLVI. The visiting locker room at the Stick is, well, cramped, and you could only imagine the emotions following from a game like that. The crowd was around Eli Manning from the moment the media got in the room, and the Giants were in a rush to get on the plane and continue the party. And here was Chris Snee, suit on, his interviews over, luggage at his feet, just waiting for Manning to stop doing interviews.
“Elisha, let’s go already!” Snee said with a smile. This was before he donned that “I love Eli” t-shirt, of course, and only after that did I hear of how Snee and Manning were roommates as rookies, and that they always – ALWAYS – sat together on the bus and on planes to games.
In the biggest moment of the season, Snee could have gone out to the bus on his own. Instead, he waited for his quarterback.
I got the idea last summer to interview Snee and Manning together, and when Snee convinced Manning to do it, we sat in a lounge, the two of them on the couch jokingly sitting on top of one another like Eli and Peyton joke around as brothers in that SportsCenter commercial.
I was not on the beat when they came in, but I’m glad to have been on the beat these last few years. That day in San Francisco, I got to see the bond between two of the very best to play for the Giants in franchise history.
PATTI TRAINA/Inside Football, Sports XChange, Bleacher Report
My favorite Chris Snee moment came several years ago—I can’t remember what year it was, but I want to say it was about three years into his career.
First let me give you some background: Snee came in and initially seemed like the last thing he wanted to do was talk to anyone, reporters included. It didn’t help that his offensive line mates at the time added fuel to the fire by calling him a “grumpy old man.”
Anyway, one day I had to do a sit-down interview with Snee for a story on his charity work, which he never really spoke about (I always got the impression that Snee didn’t care to talk about himself). This was back in the old stadium so for “sit downs” we had to do them in the hallway, just outside the locker room.
So I’m standing out there waiting and Snee comes out, finishing an ice cream cone. He’s walking as though someone just told him to walk the plank of a pirate ship, and he has a scowl on his face. I’m sitting there thinking I’m in for a bumpy ride, but once he reached me, he cracked a smile, shook my hand, and gave me a wonderful interview.
When we finished, I thanked him for his time. He thanked me, said he enjoyed the chat and that I “shouldn’t be a stranger” moving forward. From that day forward, regardless of what mood he might have been in, Snee and I would chat whenever the opportunity presented itself, even if it was a quick “Hello.”
Post script to this story. When he was voted a team captain last year—an honor that was long overdue in my opinion–I congratulated him by saying, “Congrats, Captain Chris.”
His eyes lit up and he broke out into as big of a smile as I have ever seen from him. He told me he liked the moniker. He liked it so much, in fact, that he told a couple of his teammates whose lockers were nearby that from that point forward, he wanted to be called “Captain Chris.” (I won’t repeat what the teammates said since this is a PG-13 site.)
I don’t think the nickname ever caught on with others, but out of respect, I kept calling him that, right up to the day he retired. And each time he would smile and it was just so clear to see it made him feel good.
When he retired last week, he had to walk past a few of us to get to the podium. He was shaking the hands of reporters who were lined up on that side—I was one of them. When he got to me, I said “Thanks for being such a professional, Captain Chris.”
Boom! There was that smile again and this time, he gave me a big hug before taking the podium for what was one of the most emotional farewell pressers I have ever covered.
I’ve been on this beat since the late 1990s and one of the things I really enjoy from a human aspect is to see these guys come in as kids and leave as grown men. Those moments where you get to know the person behind the facemask are what make this job so special.
I’m very honored to have covered Chris Snee’s career and to see him go from being a quiet brawny kid out of college into a professional, a leader and above all one of the nicest men to ever don the Giants uniform.