Giants holding second Legacy Game in nod to past


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Carl Banks looked out at the Giants’ throwback uniform, the red-painted end zones and the vintage scoreboard displays and lost his equilibrium for a moment.

The game against the Bears on Oct. 2 was the first of two Legacy Games at MetLife Stadium presented as part of a special platform around the NFL undertaken by the Giants’ marketing team. The second will be Sunday against Washington, when arguably the franchise’s biggest “lunch-pail game” rivalry during the 1980s era will be celebrated.

“It gives you goose bumps,” said Banks, who won Super Bowls with the Giants in 1986 and 1990 and now is the booth analyst on WFAN’s radio broadcasts, “because there was a total emotional connection that you flash back to, and then you flash forward.”

The Giants are in the middle of a five-year uniform unveiling leading up to their 100th season in 2024. After emphasizing “color rush” alternate jerseys and making other more subtle changes, the plan was accelerated this season when the NFL passed a rule permitting the use of a second helmet with the non-standard home or road jersey. Instead of just rolling out a new look with the 1980-99 helmet, the Giants opted for a stadium-wide blitz of nostalgia.

The Giants will have their Legacy Game vs. the Commanders.

Chief business officer Pete Guelli’s message to all involved was to make fans feel as if they are walking through a time warp into the old Giants Stadium. Just as in Week 2, the first 30,000 fans Sunday will receive a game-day pennant and a 1980s era musical act will perform at halftime.

It took about two years — past Week 1 of this season — to get the color and look of the jersey trim, pant stripe, nameplate, heritage neckline just right on the Legacy Game jerseys.

“I want to be proud of the legacy, I want to be proud of the history and the tradition here, I want my name to be above the lockers [with other Ring of Honor members],” running back Saquon Barkley said. “That’s something that was a goal of mine when I got drafted here and that doesn’t go unnoticed when you put those jerseys on. The uniform definitely alerts you a little more to the focus on the tradition … and the types of players that were here before.”

The fan base has responded in a big way. Two of the Giants’ three most engaged social-media posts in 2022 are related to the Legacy Games and another — with comedian Rob Riggle and former Giants teammates Eli Manning and Shaun O’Hara acting in a spin-off of a scene from the movie “Stepbrothers” — launched this week.

“The uniforms and those red end zones reminded me of Super Bowl XXI,” season-ticket holder Joe Ippolito of Livingston, N.J., said of his reaction on Oct. 2. “I was like, ‘This is Giants football.’ Seeing that field made me feel like, ‘There is no way we are going to lose today.’ ”

Ippolito, 50, will be one of a limited group of season ticketholders in attendance Saturday at a Chalk Talk event with Phil Simms, Harry Carson, Rodney Hampton and Banks. He and his 14-year-old nephew, Angelo Chirichiello, bonded two generations of fandom over a video of Lawrence Taylor and Barkley announcing the legacy games.

“The era resonates with everybody because it was the first [Super Bowl] and they kind of took on the personality of the tri-state area,” Ippolito said. “The blue-collar, underdog mentality. We weren’t at the top of anybody’s minds.”

Merchandise sales are up about 50 percent over last year and at a four-year high, the team said, with four reissued Starter brand “Legacy Collection” items that sold out within hours — the red jacket synonymous with defensive coordinator Bill Belichick, the Bill Parcells-favored sweater, a training-camp windbreaker and a locker-room T-shirt — accounting for the much of the spike. Banks is the exclusive licensee for Starter, under the G-III Sports apparel company he founded.

“The significance is so ironic because it was an era that really set the standard for what we came to know as Giants football,” Banks said. “We went from a bad season to my rookie year becoming a wild-card team, to [advancing] the next year and after that winning a Super Bowl. The rebuild is similar to what we are seeing.

“I’m not projecting any Super Bowls in two years, but they have put themselves in a great position with a new coach to be able to play in the postseason in a year that nobody was expecting anything from them … [just like] when a group of young rookies including myself was able to help the team start moving in the right direction.”

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