Sports

New York Giants and Jets Both Exceeding Expectations

Running back Jashaun Corbin of the New York Giants carries the ball during the preseason game against the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium on August 28, in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo: Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

It’s been a long while since the New York Giants and New York Jets have both been relevant football teams this late into an NFL season.

Local gridiron fans this fall have experienced a renewed sense of energy surrounding Big Blue and Gang Green. They actually find themselves blocking off time for watching football on Sundays in addition to pumpkin picking, sampling apple ciders, and of course attending Mass!

Both the Giants (6-2) and the Jets (5-3) headed into play last weekend on winning streaks only to end up losing. Both teams, however, have already eclipsed their win totals from 2021 – mind you, it’s still only November.

Some local clergy members have been fast to jump back aboard their team’s bandwagon.

Father Ralph Edel, chaplain at St. Francis Prep, Fresh Meadows, who lives at Holy Family, Flushing, has been a die-hard Giants fan since birth. Every Sunday and even with his busy schedule, he tries to block off the afternoons to watch the G-Men at his mother Angela’s house, which has been a family tradition for many years.

Father Edel is also a New York Knicks, New York Mets, and New York Rangers fan. Collectively, this means experiencing a whole lot of losing. Yet as a Giants fan, he’s enjoyed two recent improbable Super Bowl runs in 2008 and 2012.

As a senior at Cathedral Prep and Seminary, Elmhurst, Father Edel enjoyed a memorable day at the Canyon of Heroes in 2008 watching the Giants’ ticker-tape parade. “The parade day was the only day my mom ever let me skip school in my entire life,” he said.

This season, Father Edel has been impressed with new Giants head coach Brian Daboll, who brings a fiery presence not seen since the glory days of the great Tom Coughlin. The Giants are playing lots of close games, but they’ve found themselves on the winning side more often than not.

“Talent-wise, this is a bottom five roster in the NFL,” Father Edel said. “Daboll is getting the most out of them that he can. The energy around this team is just so much better.”

Admittedly, Father Edel is not a huge fan of Giants quarterback Daniel Jones. In fact, while watching the livestream of the 2019 NFL Draft on a plane home from the Catholic Education Conference in Chicago, the young priest yelled out not with joy as the Giants drafted Jones with the sixth overall pick.

However, he’s starting to become a believer in Jones, especially seeing how the team has rallied around their quarterback. It certainly helps that star running back Saquon Barkley — who Father Edel called one of the most talented players he’s ever seen — is healthy and has his rookie form.

The Giants still have some tough games ahead, mainly against their division rivals. Right now though, Big Blue has put itself in a position to compete for a playoff berth and the division title.

Meanwhile, Father Bill Sweeney, pastor of St. Francis de Sales, Belle Harbor, and former St. Francis Prep chaplain, knows losing all too well as a Mets and Jets fan. He at least experienced some form of Jets’ success, as he was an eighth grader when Broadway Joe Namath led the Jets to an underdog victory in Super Bowl III.

Since then, it’s been mostly downhill for Jets fans. “I really think Namath sold his soul to the devil for the future of the franchise,” said Father Sweeney, who used to be a Jets season-ticket holder prior to becoming a pastor. He remembers his exact seats with his brother at the Meadowlands: Section 47, Row K, Seats 10-11.

“It was the coldest place I’ve ever been in my entire life!” he said, though playoff games for the Jets have been few and far between.

Despite the hot start, a season-ending ACL injury to rookie running back Breece Hall has brought some Jets fans back down to Earth. “I’m one of the Jets fans who is waiting for the other shoe to drop,” Father Sweeney said.

Still, the Jets have turned in some gutsy wins this season. Young quarterback Zach Wilson is healthy and making key plays, which is exactly what the team envisioned when they drafted him last year with the No. 2 overall draft pick.

“I think Wilson still has a lot to learn, but right now he’s winning,” Father Sweeney said. “That’s the key in the NFL. It doesn’t really matter how it looks just as long as you win.”

It’s amazing how a few wins can totally change the mentality of the fanbase, especially when expectations were quite low heading into the season.

“To tell you the truth, I was looking at the schedule, and I said there was a possibility of the Jets being 0-7 or 0-9,” Father Sweeney said. “I’m very impressed and very happy with the outcome of everything. I would love for them to make the playoffs.”

The great thing about the NFL is that it’s so unpredictable. It’s been unpredictable that the Giants and Jets have gotten off to torrid starts, but it could be just as unpredictable for both teams to falter in the second half.

There’s a lot more season left, so we’ll wait and see if the prayers of Father Edel and Father Sweeney convince the football gods that their team is worthy of a playoff berth.


Contact Jim Mancari via email at jmmanc@gmail.com.

Tags:
Share this article with a friend.