Top Fives

Top five: books for New York Giants fans

The New York Giants left for San Francisco in 1957 and have been the San Francisco Giants ever since. Nevertheless, the football team is still officially named the New York Football Giants, even though they’ve been the only Giants in town for decades now.

Founded in 1925 by bookmaker Tim Mara, the Giants were important in the early years of the NFL because having a New York franchise was considered essential. Mara, along with other prominent owners such as Chicago’s George Halas, helped guide the NFL through tough times in its early decades and he saw his team win four NFL Championships between 1927 and 1956.

A 30-year fallow period followed but the Giants became a force again in the 1980s, led by head coach Bill Parcells, who won two Super Bowls in five seasons wih the help of a defense coached by Bill Belichick and starring Lawrence Taylor and Carl Banks.

In 2007 and 2011, the Giants handed Belichick his first two Super Bowl defeats as Eli Manning became one of only five players to win the Super Bowl MVP award more than once. At the time of writing, the Giants are in a slump but they remain one of the NFL’s great franchises. Here are five recommended books for anyone who wants to know more about the team.

Lombardi and Landry (2012) by Ernie Palladino
Vince Lombardi and Tom Landry are synonymous with the Green Bay Packers and the Dallas Cowboys, respectively. But before they made their names as head coaches, the pair were assistant coaches with the Giants during the 1950s, helping to build the team to its 1956 NFL Championship. Palladino chronicles those years and looks at how they shaped two of football’s greatest coaches.
Buy the book: Amazon US

No Medals For Trying (1990) by Jerry Izenberg
This book puts a different spin on the familiar ‘inside-the-team’ schtick, with Izenberg spending a week with the 1989 New York Giants as they try to bounce back from a road loss to the San Francisco 49ers and prepare to host division rivals, the Philadelphia Eagles. Full of characters, from Bill Parcells to Lawrence Taylor and plenty more, this benefits from an even greater level of detail than books that cover a whole season. The absorbing story plays out hour-by-hour. It’s out of print but secondhand copies are pretty easy to find.

Super Bowl Monday (2011) by Adam Lazarus
It’s easy to forget now, but 1991’s Super Bowl XXV was cast into doubt by the unfolding war in Iraq. Adam Lazarus looks back at a title game that some argued should not have been played at all but which eventually went ahead under heightened security. The Giants won the game narrowly, taking their second Super Bowl title in what became known as a classic win over the Buffalo Bills – in large part because of Belichick’s bold game plan. For troops watching in the Gulf, the time difference meant that the action unfolded on Super Bowl Monday.

Parcells: A Football Life (2014) by Bill Parcells and Nunyo Demasio
Bill Parcells has always done things his own way, so it’s no surprise that he would co-write his own biography. Written in third person and supplemented by more than a hundred interviews by Demasio, Parcells: A Football Life examines the Hall of Fame head coach’s six-decade career. As you would expect, a significant chunk of the book deals with Parcells’ time in charge of the Giants, competing against coaching legends such as Bill Walsh in San Francisco and Joe Gibbs in Washington.
Buy the book: Amazon US // Amazon UK

The GM (2008) by Tom Callahan
Though the Giants lost their only Super Bowl appearance with Ernie Accorsi as general manager – falling to the Ravens in 2001 – the veteran football executive arguably assembled the team that won the Super Bowl in 2008. Indeed, if you pick up the second edition of this book, it closes with a chapter on that Super Bowl, making author Tom Callahan’s view on the subject clear. Though the book spends some time on Accorsi’s time as GM of the Baltimore Colts and in a similar role with the Cleveland Browns, overwhelmingly this is a book about the Giants and offers a valuable insight for fans.
Buy the book: Amazon US // Amazon UK

Photo: Mike Lizzi

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