Diocesan News

Friends, Not Foes: Brothers’ Bond Survives Football Rivalry

The New York Giants have won four Super Bowls. John Matera is particularly proud of the two that involved wins over the New England Patriots. (Photo: Courtesy of John Matera)

BENSONHURST — John Matera’s heart was broken. Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson had just returned a punt for a touchdown as time expired to beat the New York Giants, 38-31.

A longtime Giant fan, Matera hated to see his team lose the game — later dubbed “New Miracle at the New Meadowlands” — in such a devastating way. 

But on that Sunday in 2010, he was comforted by his younger brother, Anthony Matera, who told him he still had a lot to be thankful for because the Giants were still a great team. The fact that it was his brother offering words of condolence might not seem unusual, except for this: Anthony is a New York Jets fan.

The siblings root like crazy for their respective teams but never let the football rivalry get in the way of their brotherly bond.

“We don’t break each other’s chops,” said Anthony, a physical education teacher at P.S. 205 in Bensonhurst.

“We sort of comfort each other when things go bad for our teams,” agreed John, a school psychologist for the New York City Department of Education.

“I was miserable after that game,” he said, adding that the DeSean Jackson punt return is still a sore subject for him, even more than a decade later.

Like many sports fans who root for rival teams, the Materas have a common sports enemy — Tom Brady. Brady, who was the quarterback for the New England Patriots for 20 years before moving to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and winning Super Bowl LV this year, has made life miserable for Jets and Giant fans over the years.

“You could say we bond over our mutual dislike of Brady,” John said. “We have that in common.”

Anthony has been a fan of the New York Jets since 1994. “I went to a Jets game when I was a kid. I loved Boomer Esiason, the quarterback. I loved the team colors,” he said, referring to the green and white uniforms worn by the Jets.

There was also another reason he decided to root for the Jets. “As a kid, I always loved the underdog, and the Jets never won,” he said.

He has suffered a lot for his devotion to the Jets. “In 1996, they were 1-16. They were an embarrassment. But then Bill Parcells came in 1997, and they went 9-7,” he said, referring to the legendary coach.

Anthony Matera has been a New York Jets fan since childhood. (Photo: Courtesy of Anthony Matera)

“In 1998, they were 12-4. They made the playoffs. They could have gone to the Super Bowl that year. But they didn’t,” Anthony said. “It was the worst sports moment of my life.”

The Jets lost to the Denver Broncos 23-10 in the AFC Championship Game and missed their Super Bowl shot. The Jets haven’t won a Super Bowl since 1969 — the team’s only championship — when Joe Namath was the quarterback.

By contrast, the Giants have won four Super Bowls — 1987, 1991, 2008, and 2012 — and four pre-Super Bowl NFL championships — 1927, 1934, 1938, 1956.

John is proud of his team and has particularly fond memories of the last two Super Bowl victories. In 2008, the Giants beat Brady and the Patriots in Super Bowl XLII and again in Super Bowl XLVI in 2012.

“My brother was always on my side when the Giants played New England in big games because we both hated Tom Brady,” he said.

John admitted that he rooted for another team years ago. “I did like the Dallas Cowboys back in the 1990s, but for the most part, I’ve been a Giants fan,” he said.

The Materas’ differences in team loyalties also extend to baseball. “John is a Yankee fan. I’m more of a Met fan,” Anthony said.

Still, they are sometimes on the same side. The brothers team up to take part in a fantasy baseball league each year and a fantasy football league that operates during the playoffs.

“I like it. We work well together. And it’s fun discussing our draft picks,” John said.

“We work well together. We think alike,” Anthony said.

Of course, all bets are off if the Giants and the Jets ever meet in a Super Bowl.