Happy fans at this party

February 3, 2008 5:19:31 PM PST
The New England Patriots may have been a big favorite in the Super Bowl, but at Manny's Restaurant & Lounge, a few miles from Giants Stadium, they definitely were not drawing much support.

The first "Let's Go Giants" chant started as "The Star-Spangled Banner" ended, while the first high-fives were exchanged when they won the pre-game coin toss. And as the team moved the ball on its first possession, it sounded like a jet was taking off overhead (which was possible, as the bar is near Teterboro Airport).

However, with each Eli Manning misstep - an interception early in the second quarter, then an incomplete pass to end the first half - their voices rang in unison. "Aaaaargh," they said.

The fans also tried to help the referees, calling out when they thought they saw penalties.

One fan, though, was a little less enthusiastic than the others.

Eight-two-year-old Harold Wright was upset that he wasn't in Arizona for the game. Wright, a retired truant officer and GMC service manager who has held season tickets for 50 years, attended the Giants' three previous Super Bowl appearances in person.

And last year, when he was in an intensive care unit and was taken off a breathing machine, his first request wasn't for a glass of water: it was for a TV. "Kickoff is in 15 minutes," his daughter, Carol Kendrick, said he told the doctor.

For other fans at Manny's, where signed pictures of Herschel Walker, Frank Sinatra and other celebrities hang on the walls, the bar was the only place to watch the game.

"This is the next thing to being at the game," said Lou Jambor, a 49-year-old Moonachie resident who has watched every Giants Super Bowl there.

Other New York area establishments were also drawing in fans for the big game.

At The Gael Pub in Manhattan, there was a capacity crowd of more than 150 patrons, many in Giants jerseys. And outside, street vendors were selling 2007 NFC Championship T-shirts for $10.

The pub had intended to give away shots of vodka and Blue Curacao for every Giants touchdown. However, due to a typo in its advertising, the pub had to offer the shots for touchdowns for either team.

However, co-owner Billy Ferguson didn't anticipate giving away much free booze if the Patriots got on the board.

"I don't think anybody will be in the mood to celebrate if the Patriots score," he said before the game began. However, a few drinkers did claim free shots after the Patriots scored the only touchdown of the first half.

Brother Jimmy's, a famous barbecue place on Manhattan's Upper East Side attracted people from England - and a group of women who were barely in high school the last time the Giants were in the big game, in 2001.

Shauna Farrell, a 23-year-old law student, and Tricia Eldred, also 23 and an auditor, reserved a table for a dozen friends - all women - to see the game.

"I think they've got a shot," said Farrell, a big fan of Eli Manning.

And the crowd there was so diverse, it even included a Patriots fan.

"I'm not afraid," said Kyle Jones, 25, an analyst who was wearing a Patriots jersey. "New York fans know where to draw the line."

It's probably just as well he didn't go to Moonachie.