Tuesday, February 05, 2008
NEW YORK —On a day for jumping and whooping it up, Michael Strahan showed the throngs of jubilant fans just how it's done, New York Giants style.
The star defensive end fires up his team _ a wildly improbable NFL champion _ with a leap that he calls "stomping you out." And with that, Strahan jumped skyward on the podium at a Super Bowl rally Tuesday, lifting his knees to his shoulders.
"We would like to extend this to every other team in the NFL and particularly for the last team we defeated, the New England Patriots," he said, his teammates standing behind him. "Because you know what we did to you? We stomped you out!"
Two days after the Giants won the title with a 17-14 victory that ended the New England Patriots' perfect season, fans gathered at City Hall Park after a ticker-tape parade to watch their team get the keys to the city.
And those fans, umbrellas raised in a light rain, made a plea to Strahan, who is contemplating retirement. "One more year!" came the chant as soon as he got to the podium.
"One more year?" Strahan said. "We'll see."
Eli Manning, the MVP of the Super Bowl, said the team was proud to "bring the championship back to New York City."
"It's been an unbelievable journey," he said.
Manning and Strahan were joined by the entire Giants organization in a parade through the "Canyon of Heroes" before hundreds of thousands of fans, many decked out in Giants blue, to celebrate one of the city's great sports triumphs.
After the Manhattan lovefest, the team took buses back to New Jersey, where it was met by a crowd of more than 20,000 fans at Giants Stadium. The crowd saved its loudest cheers for coach Tom Coughlin, who emerged from a tunnel holding aloft the Super Bowl trophy.
"You believed in us and this group of young men believed in themselves," he said. "And that's why we're standing here today."
The crowd burst into cheers when wide receive David Tyree was introduced and pressed a football to his head, simulating his astonishing catch in the final minutes of Sunday's game.
State Senate President Richard J. Codey took a jab at the Patriots when he referred to their videotaping scandal at Giants Stadium against the Jets in September.
"If the Patriots were here today, they could film all they want," Codey said.
Earlier, across the Hudson River, the Giants rode in floats and many players carried video cameras to record the moment. A huge cheer went up when Manning joined Strahan at the front of a float. The float also carried Mayor Michael Bloomberg as well as the Vince Lombardi Trophy, which was cradled like a baby in Strahan's massive arms.
"I've never ever played with a bigger group of goofballs than this group here," Strahan said. "And you know what? We won the Super Bowl!"
Bloomberg gave team officials and players keys to the city after the festivities. Gov. Eliot Spitzer and Sen. Charles Schumer were among the politicians joining Bloomberg at City Hall.
"The Giants may not be perfect but no one is, at least not this year in the NFL," Bloomberg said, taking a shot at the Patriots' 18-1 season.
Schumer said: "Now the Giants aren't just New York's team, they're America's team."
Coughlin thanked the city for the outpouring of enthusiasm.
"That parade and that show of loyalty and the response to our championship season is just something we'll remember for the rest of our lives," he said.
While it clearly was a day for a parade, it was also a day for politics: New York and the 23 other Super Tuesday states were holding primaries.
Near City Hall, signs for Democratic candidate Barack Obama were surrounded by fans wearing Giants red, white and blue. Spitzer told the crowd he had written in Coughlin for his presidential pick, with Manning for vice president.
The parade, featuring 50 tons of confetti, began at the tip of lower Manhattan in Battery Park and proceeded north on Broadway, going past the financial district and the site of the World Trade Center before the City Hall Park finale. Ticker-tape parades in the "Canyon of Heroes" have celebrated everything from Charles Lindbergh's Atlantic flight to sports championships. The last parade was in 2000, when the Yankees won the World Series. This parade was the first for a football team, said Kenneth Cobb, assistant commissioner in the city Department of Records.
Crowds were 20 people deep at some places. Fans threw hats to the players, who signed them and threw them back. Mehdi Machkour, a 26-year-old restaurant worker from Brooklyn, wasn't quite sure which two players signed his hat. The native of Morocco is more of a soccer fan, but this day brought a big change.
"Now I love football," he said.
The presence of children showed that many considered the parade to be worth missing a day of school.
Arlene Remy, 32, of Brooklyn, was with her son and three of his friends.
"They haven't won a Super Bowl since 1991 and I want to be a part of history," she said.
For New Yorkers _ or politicians _ who still can't get enough: Spitzer announced the availability of a New York Giants Super Bowl XLII Champions custom license plate.
Associated Press writers Clare Trapasso in New York and David Porter in East Rutherford, N.J., contributed to this report.
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