Yesterday morning I was thinking about some seasonal sports stuff to do and naturally football came to mind. At first I was going to post some sweet old Packers / Bears rivalry pics since they were playing each other, but then I realized that it’s the 25th Anniversary of my favorite sports team ever winning a championship. The 1986 New York Giants.
If it’s the 25th Anniversary of the Giants winning Super Bowl XXI 39-20 against the Denver Broncos, then it also must be the same for the 1986 World Series Champion New York Mets.
As a nine year old growing up in New Jersey, there was nothing in the world that meant more to me than this Giants team. These guys really exemplified the blue collar side of New Jersey that I was familiar with and also made up the majority of their fan base. Guys like Phil Simms, Joe Morris, Mark Bavaro, Phil Mc Conkey Bart Oates and Billy Ard.
What really made this team something special though was the defense, otherwise known as the “Big Blue Wrecking Crew”. The most feared player in the game, Lawrence Taylor recorded a league high 20.5 sacks on his way to winning the NFL MVP that season. On the other side you had Carl Banks, the Edward James Almos of NFL Linebackers. He was both as feared and as eloquent as the actor himself. I loved this guy almost as much as LT growing up too. I had two official jerseys in 1986, one was LT, the other was Carl Banks. The line was anchored by Jim Burt, Leonard Marshall and George Martin. Three more hard nosed blue collar guys, if there ever were any. The secondary had my main man Elvis “Toast” Patterson leading it.
This team also holds a special place in my heart because it was the first year that my father and I went to every home game. We didn’t have season tickets because as any Giants fan knew growing up, it was a 14 year waiting list. My Dad and I would wake up early, make some Pepper & Egg sangwiches and head down to the stadium with the seating chart torn out of the New Jersey Yellow pages. We would talk to the scalpers and then check the seats on the chart and take it from there. We ended up scoring tickets for every Sunday game that season. I’m sure my Dad spent a lot more then he ever wanted to some days, just to make sure the World’s Biggest Giants Fan wasn’t disappointed.
After we secured our tickets, we always had the same plan. We would walk over to the player’s entrance tunnel at the end of the stadium where each and every player walked in. I had an all white rubber Giants football that i collected every single players autograph on that season. Even Lawrence Taylor (who didn’t sign autographs), couldn’t turn down a nine year old wearing his official Sand Knit jersey over a Triple Fat Goose down jacket. A year later the autographs on thet ball started fading so we tried to preserve it by spraying some sort of coating on it, which ended up screwing up the whole ball. It didn’t really matter though, because it was more about getting the autographs there on Game Day with my dad more than having the ball in a collection.
I was going to end this post here and just add some pics of the ’86 season, but since it’s Baseball Playoff time and also the anniversary of the Mets Championship, we should talk about that team too….mainly because New York loves having two Champions in the same year and there are a lot of similarities between the make-up of these two teams.
Now I have to say that growing up I was always a Yankees fan. I loved Don Mattingly, Dave Winfield, Rickey Henderson and Mike Pagliarulo. You could tell who was a fifth grade bandwagon jumper growing up by who was a Mets fan and who rooted for the Yankees. With that being said, I still wanted to see the Mets win that season and remember flipping back and forth between Game Six and the Monday Night Game against the Redskins that October.
If I had more memories about that team I would talk about them. More importantly, when you look at this team, it really embodied the spirit and personality of the New York fans in 1986. You had the All Star Mustache Team anchored by skipper Davey Johnson and guys like Keith Hernandez, Wally Backman and Howard Johnson. You had the hard-nosed Gary Carter and the guy they called “Nails”, Lenny Dykstra. Unfortunately off the field problems have followed him and more famously Darryl Strawberry and Dwight Gooden over the years. No different than my childhood hero, Lawrence Taylor.
Before I start crying, I will add these pics. Happy Anniversary to two of the greatest teams ever.
Did I mention they invented the Gatorade Shower?