Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

A Jersey House Party

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

A Jersey House Party

Article excerpt

The New York Giants came home Monday -- to New Jersey.

The team spent the morning taking in the roars of fans lining New York City's Canyon of Heroes, but by midafternoon the champs were back in the Garden State, nestled into East Rutherford, where the team has played for nearly 40 years.

"This is Jersey's team, baby," Governor Christie said as he walked from the stage at MetLife Stadium. "They play here, and this is where they ended their season. ... I'm just here to welcome the team back to their home state."

Star defensive end Osi Umenyiora agreed.

"Most of us live here. You know, our kids go to school here. We practice here. We play here," Umenyiora said in an interview at the stadium. "Why wouldn't you have festivities over here?"

The debate over which state should call the Giants its own has raged since the team left New York for good in 1976 but was rekindled in 2000 when the team added "NY" logos back on its helmets. Tuesday's dueling celebrations underscored the rivalry, while also representing a rare case of bi-state euphoria.

But Christie couldn't help himself in recent weeks, repeatedly referring to the team as the "New Jersey Giants," a coinage that more than a few Jersey fans can get behind.

The parade "should be here," said Brian Byrne, 41, of Garfield, who attended the MetLife Stadium rally. Like many at the stadium, Byrne is a lifelong Giants fan.

The Giants spent more than 50 years playing in several stadiums in New York City and Connecticut before moving to the Meadowlands. New Yorkers say the team's spiritual roots still exist in the city, pointing out that "New York" is still in the team's corporate name. But New Jersey fans argue that once the team crossed the Hudson River, it became theirs.

The team replaced the "NY" logo to "GIANTS" immediately after the move in deference to New Jersey.

"The stadium's here. They live here," said Jerry Nappi, 42, of Berkeley Heights. "They really are a Jersey team."

Red-and-blue tide

Both Tuesday rallies were packed with throngs of fans, forming undulating seas of red and blue at MetLife Stadium and up and down Broadway in lower Manhattan, which was strewn with confetti and toilet paper.

The ticker-tape parade, the city's first since 2009 in honor of the New York Yankees 27th World Championship, set off from the southern tip of Manhattan around 11 a.m. and moved slowly north to City Hall, where the team was honored with symbolic keys to the city.

The procession was led by a glittering float carrying Paterson's own Victor Cruz, who smiled wide and waved to the crowds, many of whom responded with air horns, screams and chants of "Cruuuuuuz." Higher in the sky, office workers and hotel guests huddled up to windows or protruded out of them to catch a glimpse of the festivities.

On his float, quarterback Eli Manning was joined by coach Tom Coughlin, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, New York Gov. …

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