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The 25 greatest New York Giants players series

Frank Gray
NFC B’easts Blog
New York Giants Writer

I have posted 2 parts of the 7 part series entitled “The 25 greatest New York Giants players” here on NFC B’easts. You can read the entire series on my personal blog.

The 25 greatest New York Giants players Part 2/7: Honorable Mention

In this next part, I will examine the players that just fell short of being in the top 25 all-time list. Before I do, let me review the criteria to which I am choosing these players. The players on both lists will all have met at least one or more of these.

First they must have been a New York Giants player for at least a full season. Second, they must have gained notoriety to some degree in the league as a Giants player. If they had gained such notoriety before or after their Giants career, then they would still be considered if they have made a substantial social or competitive contribution to either the sport, the team or society as a whole.

Third, they must have made a significant contribution to Giants history. Fourth, they must have been an example of the type of player that has forged the Giants reputation throughout the league as hard-nosed tough and gritty resilience. If a player does not meet any of these, they will not be on the list.

I will use statistics for the modern day players, but I will also factor in their place in history as well when comparing them to players of past generations. By doing this, it makes the process a little more fair to the older players in the annuls of lore.

In no particular order, the players who just missed out:

#1 Ken Strong – HB. Strong is most known for being the first at attempting and scoring on a fair catch kick. He was an All-Pro selection five times and inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame in 1967. His career with the Giants was shortened by military service and contract disputes. He is one of only 11 retired numbers in Giants history.

He wore #50. He is not in the top 25 due to one reason only. He is not that well known. When you think of him, most fans ask, who? This may be a player that could have gone either way, but when looking at everyone else, I chose him here. There are others that could fall into this as well, but meet other criteria that keeps them on the list.

#2 David Tyree – WR/ST. Tyree is a former Pro Bowl player who was never a starter on the Giants, but is one this list for one reason. The Catch. In Super Bowl 42, he made a catch that was so legendary, that it catapulted the Giants to a improbable victory with an improbable play. He provided fans with multiple highlights in his career in New York, but none bigger than that moment.

#3 Jimmy Patton – CB. Patton was a member of the 1956 NFL Championship team. He was also a five time All Pro team member and a Pro Bowl player five times. He is second only to Emlen Tunnell in all-time team interceptions. He played for 11 years. He died tragically at he age of 40 in a car accident in 1973, just seven years after retiring. He is also one of those largely unknown Giants players that deserves recognition.

#4 Jessie Armstead – LB. Armstead was a fixture of the Giants defense in the late 90’s. He was on the 2000 NFC Championship team and a five time Pro Bowl selection. He had 752 tackles and 12 interceptions total in his career. His 597 tackles as a player for the Giants is good enough to place him fourth all-time among the team in that stat. Despite playing two seasons at the end of his career with the Redskins, he signed a contract that enabled him to retire as a member of the Giants. He now works with the team in a player development role.

#5 Plaxico Burress – WR. Burress was a dynamic receiver in his time with the Giants. He was a key member in the 2007 Super Bowl run and even correctly predicted the outcome. He accumulated 3,681 yards receiving in his 4 seasons along with 33 TD’s. His Giants career was cut short by legal troubles. As it stands, he played longer with Pittsburgh than with New York. He had shown heart and grit on the field as a player, but based on team statistics, I can’t place him in the top 25 list.

#6 Dave Meggett – HB. Meggett was a catalyst for the 86′ Super Bowl Championship team. He teamed with Otis Anderson to make the original ‘thunder and lightning’ tandem, a term associated with the running group core of the early 2000’s. Meggett changed the game in his time. His statistics are not very comparable with others at his position, but his size (5’7″), versatility and speed made him a legend on multiple teams.

While with the Giants, he won a Super Bowl, made the Pro Bowl as a rookie and had six punt returns for TD’S, one kick return TD. He also had a total of 15 TD’s on offense (10 as a receiver, 5 as a rusher). He was the elusive, utility back that was reliable in every phase of the game. His career total of 3,708 punt return yards is good for second all-time in the NFL.

#7 Osi Umenyiora – DE. Umenyiora is a vital part of the Giants current defense. He is a Super Bowl champion with a Pro Bowl and All-Pro selection thus far in his career. He is also a New York Giants record holder. He has the record for most sacks for a Giants player in a single game with 6 against the Philadelphia Eagles. The team tied an NFL record for sacks in one game with 12 that day, with half of those belonging to Umenyiora.

He currently has 48.5 sacks, going into the upcoming season. He played a major role in the pass rush that upset the New England Patriots in Super Bowl 42, alongside Michael Strahan. The future of his career is still uncertain, but he will always be remembered as a record setting champion.

#8 Jason Sehorn – CB. Sehorn was a key member of the 2000 NFC Championship team that eventually lost in the Super Bowl. He had tremendous athleticism and speed before a massively major knee injury. He never fully recovered to the level of his previous attributes. He had 360 tackles and 19 interceptions as a Giants player, which is 10th and 12th in team history respectively. He was as equally known off the field as he was on the field. His proposal and marriage to actress Angie Harmon was well publicized. He has acted in numerous commercials and tv shows. He was not the most productive cornerback in Giants history, but could arguably be the one with the most notoriety.

#9 Pat Summerall – K. The legendary voice of the NFL-tv media age has to be that of Pat Summerall. Few, however, remember him as a former player AND a former Giants player. He spent the last four years of his playing career with the team and accumulated 313 total points, 11th all-time on the team.

The last few generations will know him from the Madden series video games and being the play by play commentator on game day for decades. Many of the memories we have, he called. Many of the memories of video gaming we have, he called too. He has commercials and many other voice over appearances to his name. His reputation was forged as a member of the media, but he was a Giants player first.

#10 Jim Thorpe -HB/WR/ST. Thorpe is an example of what this list is about. He is a person who has accomplished a great deal and was never given the credit he deserved in his lifetime. He was a two-time gold medal winning Olympic athlete.

He was voted by the Associated Press as the #1 greatest athlete of the first half of the 20th century and #3 in the entire century. Many people do not know of him. Like Jackie Robinson, he played in an age of discrimination and segregation.

He was a Native American. Being so, he was embraced a little sooner than an African American would have been in athletics, but still, he had his social struggles. Not only was he the first Native American to play professional sports, he was the first president of the AFPA, which eventually became what we know as the NFL.

He was signed by the Giants for not just his abilities, but to be a crowd draw. In other words, he was the original big name free agent acquisition. Not just that, but he was the first star on the very first Giants team in 1925.

He was a true pioneer. An athlete, a player/coach, the original athlete/administrator and original multiple sports star. Bo don’t know Thorpe. Neither does Kordell ‘Slash’ Stewart.

Thorpe was the original slash, playing on every phase of the Giants team that season. He was the Giants in their first season, before they achieved success. His popularity kept a financially struggling Giants team stay afloat until they were able to finally find their stride and become the team that we all know.

Without his contributions, there would be no Giants. The team was poor, unpopular and lost in the shuffle of multiple football teams in the same same city in the early years of the sport. His contributions were a vital part of the building and success of not just Major League baseball, the National Basketball League and the NFL, but of the New York Giants.

In the next part of this series, I will get into the top 25 list, starting backwards form #25 to # 21. Please join me then.

The 25 greatest NY Giants: Part 1/7 History and Introduction

By: Frank Gray

NY Giants Correspondent

The New York Giants have had a rich and glorious history in the National Football League. The Giants are one of the oldest teams in the league, having been one of the original teams in the newly formed NFL.

The American Professional Football Association (APFA) was the first version of the league formed to play professional football. When the APFA changed to the NFL just two years later (1925), they added the Giants as one of the expanded franchises. The Cardinals and Bears are the only two remaining clubs from that original group.

The Giants have won 23 division titles, 4 NFC titles, 7 championships, including 3 in the super bowl era. They also can claim 27 Hall of Fame players with whom they have had some affiliation.
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