New York Giants Pack 2021 Calendar With a Handful of Halftime Ceremonies

Presentations celebrated a pair of franchise legends, 2011 Super Bowl-winning team

As one of the National Football League’s oldest clubs, the New York Giants are steeped in history and tradition. From Hall of Famers like Y.A. Tittle, Frank Gifford, and Lawrence Taylor to franchise legends like Carl Banks and Phil Simms, some of the game’s most notable names have donned the jersey of Big Blue. This year, the Giants reflected on their glorious past by retiring the jerseys of Hall of Famer Michael Strahan and two-time Super Bowl champion Eli Manning and honoring the 10-year anniversary of the team’s victory in Super Bowl XLVI.

Focus on the Past: Eli Manning, Michael Strahan, 2011 Team Are Honored

Playing under center from 2004 to ’19, Eli Manning has a special place in Giants fans’ hearts and minds. Displaying calm during even tension-filled moments at the end of a game — he has the most game-winning drives in Giants history: 37 — and the gracious humility that any fan would want in their quarterback, Manning slowly became a symbol of both the organization and New York City. He also was a player who shared so much of his skill that some of his offensive teammates became legends themselves: notably, 2012 Pro Bowler Victor Cruz, the one-two running back combo of Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw, and tight end Jeremey Shockey, who has the third-most touchdowns at the position in the franchise’s 96-year history.

Manning led the team to two championships in four years over Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. The first, Super Bowl XLII in 2008, is remembered for the improbable David Tyree “Helmet Catch,” a late-game touchdown by Plaxico Burress to seal the Patriots’ fate, and the defeat of an opponent set to be only the second undefeated squad in league history. The second, Super Bowl XLVI in 2011, also required a late-game score; it was jumpstarted by Mario Manningham’s tightrope, sideline catch.

The New York Giants retired Eli Manning’s No. 10 and inducted him into the Ring of Honor on Sept. 26 vs. Atlanta.

Individually, Manning has a long list of accolades. He was named Super Bowl MVP twice, went to four Pro Bowls, and was the 2016 Walter Payton Man of the Year. He also set a pair of franchise records: most career passing yards at 57,023 and passing touchdowns at 366. Both statistics are good for ninth and 10th on the NFL’s all-time list, respectively.

The Giants inducted him into the Ring of Honor and retired his No. 10 jersey during halftime of the team’s game vs. the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday, Sept. 26. Months before the announcement was made, VP/Executive Producer Don Sperling and his staff put their ideas together for the ceremony. When the day came, the festivities included appearances by players and coaches throughout Manning’s 16-year career, recorded messages from head coach Tom Coughlin and Strahan, and speeches by offensive lineman Shaun O’Hara and Giants President and Co-Owner John Mara.

Two months later, the team retired the number of one of the franchise’s greatest defensive ends. Strahan, a larger-than-life personality himself, was at the core of the team’s defensive front for 15 years. Disguising dogged determination and tenacity with a smile, he became a menace to opposing teams. Before hanging up his cleats in 2007 after the Super Bowl XLII victory, he was a seven-time Pro Bowler, a four-time member of the NFL First-Team, a two-time NFL sacks leader (the sixth-most in a career at 141.5, the most in a season with 22.5), and the 2001 NFL Defensive Player of the Year.

On Sunday, Nov. 28 against the Philadelphia Eagles, Sperling and his colleagues produced yet another jersey retirement — the first time the team retired two numbers in the same season. Unable to make Manning’s special day, Strahan took to the stage for a five-minute speech.

Michael Strahan’s No. 92 was retired on Nov. 28 vs. Philadelphia.

Both former players are now on the path to media stardom: Strahan working on Good Morning and the NFL on Fox, Manning participating with his brother Peyton on ESPN’s Monday Night Football ManningCast. He also hosts The Eli Manning Show on the franchise’s YouTube and digital channels, which has featured a wide range of personalities, such as comedian Kevin Hart, NBA superstar Kevin Durant, and beloved actor Bill Murray.

In addition to the Manning and Strahan events, the organization honored the 2011 team on Oct. 17 vs. the Los Angeles Rams. The event was a huge reunion for players and team personnel and included an in-person retelling of the season’s major events by Coughlin.

“Retiring the numbers of two icons in one year took a lot to do,” says Sperling. “But getting to also celebrate the 10-year anniversary of our last Super Bowl made it extremely rewarding.”

Other In-Venue Activations: 20th Anniversary of 9/11, Salute to Service, Marvel Theme

If a trio of presentations wasn’t enough, the in-venue staff was also tasked with other game-day initiatives. Before the home opener vs. the Denver Broncos on Sunday, Sept. 12, the Giants paid respect to the memory of those lost in the 9/11 attacks and the first responders. With MetLife Stadium only 11 miles northwest across the Hudson River from the World Trade Center, the day has special significance to Giants fans.

The franchise honored the 10-year anniversary of winning Super Bowl XLVI on Oct. 17 vs. the Los Angeles Rams.

In addition to this emotional day, the team did their part in showing appreciation to military veterans and active members of the U.S. armed forces during their Salute to Service game vs. the Las Vegas Raiders on Sunday, Nov. 7.

With rising interest in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the Giants collaborated with the entertainment company for a special activation. Before and during their Week 7 matchup against the Carolina Panthers on Sunday, Oct. 24, the organization unveiled a full Marvel-themed plan. Fans were treated to exclusive in-stadium visuals — videos, player-headshot graphics, animations, interactive trivia — with the Marvel branding. The first 30,000 attendees received a Marvel comic book featuring Daniel Jones, Saquon Barkley, Sterling Shepard, Leonard Williams, Logan Ryan, and Blake Martinez alongside the Avengers; season-ticket holders received a Giants-themed Marvel poster.

In-venue elements and social-media platforms introduced Marvel-inspired content for the game vs. Carolina on Oct. 24.

Outside MetLife Stadium, the team’s social-media platforms amplified the message by showcasing Marvel-centric merchandise available for purchase on the team website, a customized Giants and Marvel helmet, and themed graphics.

Although this might have been a new partnership this season, it isn’t the first time the club teamed up with American comic-book publisher. “We actually did a DC-themed game in the past,” Sperling notes. “Marvel was great because it’s relevant and popular, and our players got involved on all of our social-media and digital platforms. We did a huge co-branded push for it.”

Game-Day Ops: COVID-19 Protocols Are Heightened After Omicron Surge

After producing a full slate of home games without fans during the 2020 season, the production team has become well-versed in work during COVID. Social distancing, proper masking, daily screening and testing, and tiered systems have become normal. During the peak of the pandemic, the crew relied on employees’ working remotely to generate content that would be shown on game day. Prior to the Omicron surge, operations were gradually improving, but the team is once again following a stringent set of health and safety protocols. In the control room, all stations are being filled, but, if someone is unavailable to fulfill their duties, another member of the team is more than willing to step into their position.

Inside the main control room at MetLife Stadium vs. Dallas on Dec. 19

Logistics is starting to change again,” says Sperling. “We’re still at full capacity in our control room, but there are some issues with some people being out and not being able to meet in larger groups. However, we’re still moving forward and operating with a full production.”

A Welcome Audience: New York Giants Relish Fans’ Return

Despite the team’s performance on the field, the Giants are heading into the 2021 regular-season finale and next year with a familiar sight: fans in the seats of MetLife Stadium. From a patron’s perspective, it’s satisfying to be surrounded by like-minded supporters of the team and enjoy Sunday afternoons outside the confines of a house. From a production point of view, it has been an exciting season filled with some of the traditional prompts as well as new elements to the run of show.

“It’s sometimes challenging to create ways to get the fans involved, but, overall, the reaction has been great,” says Sperling. “These ceremonies and themes have been a nice addition for our fans.”

The New York Giants will host the Washington Football Team in their final home game of the 2021 regular season at MetLife Stadium on Sunday, Jan. 9 at 1 p.m. ET on Fox.


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