(Long Island, N.Y.) Once the sun sets on the 2009 regular season, the current and original Giants Stadium will be as quiet as it was before it opened for business back in 1976. The country was celebrating its bicentennial and Big Blue finally had a place of their own, even if it was across the river in East Rutherford, New Jersey.
With both tenants of the building barely hanging onto playoff dreams, the likelihood of either one hosting a postseason game is slim to none. The Giants host the Carolina Panthers this week while the Jets will invite the Cincinnati Bengals on January 2 to make it official.
Tom Coughlin, for one, will miss the place. “I can remember many, many years ago before I ever got involved in professional football,” the head coach said. “Giants Stadium, I always thought, was the greatest football stadium in the world. It was always an honor, a privilege and an eye-opener to bring a college team, or whatever I was coaching, into that stadium.
“Then of course when I had the opportunity to come here as an assistant coach it was extremely meaningful to me and my family, being from New York state and having always been a fan of and been aware of and watched since the time I was a little guy, black and white TV,” he added. “Always the Giants and the (Cleveland) Browns in those days, that’s the way it was.”
Coughlin reflected on his first memory Giants Stadium, which unfortunately was not a good one. “(The) first time I ever stepped in? I can remember a couple of disappointing ones. I was at Syracuse and we played Penn State here one time and got our butts kicked. I remember lots of things. I remember when I was at Boston College and coming here with the leadership for the Big East community and sitting there in the stadium and doing interviews with people and having some of the Giants players walk by and that was pretty cool. That was kind of neat.”
Eli Manning may have less of a history here than his head coach, but still holds a place in his heart for the building, nonetheless. “Being the last game in Giants Stadium, it will be a special game for us knowing that we will be in a new spot next year,” the Giants quarterback said, referring to the still yet-unnamed New Meadowlands stadium built right next door. “I have only been here six years, but I have a lot of fond memories and great wins. Obviously for the fans and ownership, it’s a special game for them. You think about how many great teams and great games have been played at Giants Stadium. It will be a special day for us.”
When the Giants first entered the league in 1925, they called the Polo Grounds home. In 1956, they moved to Yankee Stadium until 1973 when then House That Ruth Built was closed for renovations. They played their first two home games in the Bronx before moving to the Yale Bowl in Connecticut, where they stayed for two years. They then moved into Shea Stadium until construction was completed on the 75,000-seat stadium by the swamp.
A more appropriate finish for the G-Men at their home would have been a playoff run, but even with that not in the cards it doesn’t take away the special memories of Giants Stadium.