New York Giants get heroes' welcome

February 5, 2008 8:47:43 AM PST
For the first time in 17 years, the New York Giants came to clean out their lockers and had somewhere to go besides the offseason.

Less than 48 hours removed from their electrifying upset of the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLII, the Giants were due for a celebration Tuesday that encompassed two states, several hours and an estimated two million people.

That was about how many fans were expected to line the route of a ticker tape parade in lower Manhattan through the city's "Canyon of Heroes." A separate afternoon rally was scheduled for Giants Stadium at the Meadowlands.

The parade afforded many players an opportunity to stand on the other side of the camera for a change.

"I've got my camera - I'm going to be a cinematographer today," defensive end Michael Strahan said. "I can't wait to see two million people."

For many players, the reality of their stunning upset of the undefeated New England Patriots - and New York's first Super Bowl championship since 1991 - was slowly starting to sink in.

"We got fitted for rings today, and we're going to see the reaction of the city and see all our fans," punter Jeff Feagles said. "Those are the things that make this day really special."

The Giants' 17-14 win over the Patriots was especially gratifying for Feagles, a 20-year veteran who had never won a Super Bowl before Sunday.

Signed by the Giants in 2003, he nearly retired after the 2005 season because of injuries, but was convinced to return by coach Tom Coughlin.

"It was worth every minute," Feagles said. "It's been a great experience, and I'm very proud to say I'm a New York Giant and a member of the world champions."

Quarterback Eli Manning said he'd probably wear his ring for a few days, then put it away somewhere safe.

Often maligned during his four-year career for his inconsistent performances, Manning rode a hot streak through the playoffs and now sits on the top of the football world as the Super Bowl's most valuable player - the same honor his brother Peyton won last year with the Indianapolis Colts.

Typically self-effacing, Manning credited his teammates, who publicly expressed confidence in him during the rough spots.

"The guys in this locker room stood up for each other and believed in each other that we could get this done," he said. "That's what you play for. You don't play for yourself. You play for your teammates."

Super Bowl ring to go along with seven Pro Bowl selections and numerous other accolades.

"A lot of people weren't saying this was a Super Bowl team at the beginning of the season," Strahan said before admitting, "I don't know if I could have said that myself. What makes this so special is that it was so unexpected."

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

AP-NY-02-05-08 1127EST