I was the most surprised at how big the players are. From the sidelines, it looks like these men are all normal-sized human beings. But in reality, all I’m looking at is equally large men standing with each other. Because when Mathias Kiwanuka, Spencer Paysinger and D.J. Ware walked over, we were instantly dwarfed. According to official stats, they’re 6-5, 6-2 and 6-0, respectively. Add a few inches with cleats and helmets and account for their weight plus pads and we’re talking beast-like. For perspective, I’m 5-9 and weigh 140 pounds. I’m looking at the top of their chest and two of me can hide in their silhouette!
Second, I was baffled at their style of practice. Where do these Superbowl champions find their ferocity? Certainly it wasn’t at summer camp. You see, the players scrimmage against each other in drills with the most calm manner. These men are essentially playing two-hand-touch. Now, I understand that you can’t be tackling, pushing and sacking your own team to the ends of the earth; however, where’s the action we see on TV? Maybe the New York Giants are just a really polite team.
The number of players was staggering. It is a well-known fact that football teams are huge. You’ve got offense, defense, special teams and what-not. But summer camp is unique because in order to practice so many different aspects of the sport, many more players are needed. What I learned is that the Giants–along with probably every other team in the NFL–invite a ton of other players to camp. It turns out that 90+ players sported the NYG blue, red and white for summer camp and only 54 of those 90 (60%!) actually stay with the team for the regular season.
If I had to choose on moment, my favorite part of the afternoon was when Justin Tuck raised his eyebrows and made a face at Megan and I while I hastily snapped a picture (which turned out to be blurry).
It’s really neat that our own UAlbany is able to host such a high-profile team. In the crowd of blue and white (I joked, “Good thing everybody makes it known what team they are here to see!”) were people from every background. SUNY students were intermingled with high school football teams, military personnel, moms and dads, grandparents, children and businessmen. As we were walking out, we passed UAlbany’s President George Phillip joining the onlookers and saw so many faces displaying pure excitement over seeing such a high caliber of athleticism and celebrity in one place. What an experience!
While Maxwell has shared the details of our joint visit, I figured I’d share those of my personal experiences as the New York Giants took the UAlbany campus by storm!
I’ve always been a football fan, for as long as I can remember. It might be that it falls in my favorite season, the enthusiastic, extremely entertaining players or the high energy fans that support it but either way nothing really fills the void of top rivalries on Sundays in the off season.
My Giants Training Camp experience began on the Sunday, with record setting attendance, of the final week of camp. I was fortunate enough to have obtained VIP passes for camp that day and enjoyed a full day of drills from the bleachers right on the field. The players were within reach. They were funny, entertaining and full of energy to say the least. As a fantasy football player, it was great to see some of my favorites run through drills with enormous speed and agility.
(Seriously, is it September 5th yet?) By the way, I can’t think of a better opening night matchup.
As the day’s practice concluded and Coach Coughlin brought everyone in to a huddle, I rushed back through the VIP gates to where an inside source told me I could hope to score some autographs. I wanted at even closer look at these tremendous athletes and had side motives too. Along with personal inquiries for signatures on a hat I had a football from last season’s Super Bowl- which was to be signed for a great charity cause. This was my first priority but I was determined to get the hat signed too.
Sure enough as practice ended and the players rushed in for the locker room the fans started screaming as they all hustled by. Some kept running and some stopped for some signings. I was lucky enough to convince a whole gamut of them to come over to me and graciously sign my personal item and the one to be raffled off and was amazed at how long some stayed around to please every fan from toddler to senior citizen.
A few days later I was wandering around Albany with a friend in town and had heard the Giants do a final run through at night. We decided to see if the rumor was true and sure enough there they were! We stuck around to watch a few plays and as we left I ran into a familiar face, Martellus Bennett. He was more than happy to snap a quick photo!
Fast forward to this past Tuesday when I was fortunate enough to join Maxwell at camp as media personnel and get an even closer look (didn’t know that was possible). The experience was incredible and I am so thankful we had the opportunity!