Here is another cool David Diehl Story from
For the Giants this winter, it was the 45 days of Christmas.
On the first day, they celebrated the holiday as well as the victory over the Jets. After that, they kept winning. So the decorations in the lobby of the Timex Performance Center, including the tree, stayed up.
All the way until last week, when the arrival of the newest addition to the décor in the lobby — the franchise’s fourth Lombardi Trophy, won last Sunday with a 21-17 victory over the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLVI — signaled it was safe to take down the garland, ornaments and everything else most of the Christmas-celebrating world had long since stashed away in the attic.
Not the Giants’ players or staff, who kept their offices and, in some cases homes, decorated. This is one seriously superstitious organization, so much so many of them wouldn’t even talk about their rituals until the season was over.
This time, at least, it all worked.
“We are always aware of our surroundings,” was how senior vice president of communications Pat Hanlon put it. “This season was no different than ’07 in that regard.”
Or any other season, for that matter.
With this Giants team, there were those throughout the building who feared the consequences of what would happen if they changed something the week after a victory.
Team president and CEO John Mara wore the same tie — a blue one with the Giants’ “ny” logo on it — for each of his team’s final six games, and he carried the same medal of the Blessed Virgin that he first used in Super Bowl XLII.
Quarterbacks coach Mike Sullivan and assistant general manager Kevin Abrams were among those who didn’t shave after the Jets game. Sullivan shaved immediately after the victory over the Patriots and again the next morning. Abrams didn’t even bring shaving supplies to Indy so as not to mess it up.
And each Thursday, the Giants’ offensive linemen ordered or picked up lunch from outside the facility. The week before the Jets game, they got McDonald’s. So guess what was delivered to the practice facility in Indy 10 days ago? Yup, Big Macs.
“We’ve always been this way,” said right guard Chris Snee, who must call his wife before he leaves the hotel on game days. “We just never really let anybody know about it.”
Until now, in the aftermath of their Super Bowl title.
“Creatures of habit, man,” defensive end Dave Tollefson said. “You get in a comfort zone, especially if you’re winning. You’re going to do the same things not only when it comes to football but to everything.”
With that, here are some of the quirkier superstitions the Giants rode to the Super Bowl — one each from the offense, defense and special teams.
• • •
On a Sunday morning late in the 2007 season, Gavin Schaffer was sitting on his father’s lap, laughing hysterically while watching Herm Edwards’ infamous “You play … to win … the game” clip on YouTube.
The phone then rang. It was tackle David Diehl, calling to talk to Gavin’s father Peter, Diehl’s agent.
Courtesy of Peter SchafferGiants offensive tackle David Diehl with Gavin Schaffer, his game day good-luck charm.
“I hand the phone to Gavin and have Dave ask him why we play the game,” Peter recalled. “I didn’t think anything of it. But they (the Giants) win the game, and Diehl, he’s (like) a hockey player, a Blackhawks fan, so he calls up the next week and says, ‘Put Gavin on the phone.’ (He) starts calling every Sunday.”
We know how that season ended, just like this one. But for the superstitious Diehl, his blocking, Eli Manning’s passing, the pass-rushers’ getting to Tom Brady and all of the other things that went into a game had as much to do with that run as Gavin’s pregame speech.
So when Peter Schaffer landed in Mobile, Ala., for the Senior Bowl before the NFC Championship Game against the Packers that year, he turned on his phone to see 15 voice mails.
“Where’s Gavin?” was how Schaffer recalls the first few calm messages. With each voice mail, the urgency in Diehl’s voice grew.
“The 10th one is (assistant GM) Kevin Abrams, saying, ‘You better get Gavin on the phone, Diehl’s bouncing off the walls of the locker room,’ ” Schaffer said. “So Mobile to Denver to Lambeau, we had a conference call with a 4-year old.”
One week later, the Schaffer family was headed to Hawaii for the Pro Bowl. On the way to the airport, Gavin was asleep in the back seat of the car.
The phone rang. It was Diehl.
“My wife’s freaky about the kids’ naps, so she looks at me like, ‘If you answer that phone, it’s going to be the worst Hawaiian vacation of your life,’ ” Schaffer said. “About 5 minutes before we take off, he wakes up.”
When the Schaffers landed in Hawaii, Peter received a text from Abrams with Diehl holding up the Lombardi Trophy and a note that read, “Thank you, Gavin.”
The tradition came and went the past few years but picked up this season and even roped in another Schaffer client: Hakeem Nicks.
“Gavin was really into it this year,” Peter said.
No one is more superstitious than Diehl. He did a weekly interview in SNY’s Manhattan studios until Week 16, when the Christmas-week schedule forced him to do it in the hallway outside the locker room.
So naturally, that’s where the next four were done (the last one was in the hallway of the team’s hotel in Indianapolis), with Diehl demanding to stand in the left side of the shot.
“You can stand on this side of me this time,” he said with a relieved laugh as the confetti flew at MetLife Stadium during last week’s Super Bowl celebration.
• • •
Each week, the special-teams player who delivers the biggest hit gets an award: a ham.
Before the game against the Jets in Week 16, special teams coach Tom Quinn couldn’t get the ham from his wife, as he usually did, so he sent kicker Lawrence Tynes and long snapper Zak DeOssie to get it.
On their way out of the parking lot of a Clifton supermarket, Tynes and DeOssie were nearly sideswiped by a woman in a minivan.
“So every time from that time on we waited for a minivan to come and we’d pull out in front of it,” Tynes said. “I swear.”
Quinn made sure Tynes and DeOssie would make that trip in the hours between Friday’s morning meeting and practice. Each time, they’d take the same route, including an illegal U-turn because they got lost on their first trip.
“One time, we forgot another turn,” Tynes said, “so we had to go all the way back to the stadium and start over.”
And of course, on the way out, they waited for a minivan. It didn’t have to be the same make, model or color and the driver didn’t have to be a female. But they waited up to 15 minutes to put themselves in harm’s way.
All for the sake of victory.
“It worked every week we did it,” Tynes said.
• • •
While Tynes and DeOssie were hamming it up, so to speak, Tollefson had a few of his own superstitions.
The first was a delivery of a diamond earring he’d have to wear to meetings the night before the game. Because, of course, the first time he did it was the week leading up to the game against the Jets.
“My wife would have to be the one to give it to me,” Tollefson said. “She flew with it to Indianapolis. She did it on the playoff run.”
Tollefson’s wife, Megan, also gave him something else before the Jets game, something she thought might bring him luck.
“Calvin Klein underwear,” Tollefson said. “And I’ll be damned if we won.”
Ironically, the trunks were green.
“Neon green,” he clarified. “Not Jets green.”
One other green thing brought Tollefson luck, or so he thinks. It’s something with which the entire organization can identify.
“I left my Christmas tree up,” he said. “I just took it down.”
Mike Garafolo: firstname.lastname@example.org; twitter.com/MikeGarafolo