Approximately 1,600 players have suited up for the Giants in their 86-year history. Those players have performed for 16 head coaches. Twenty-nine members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame have ties to the Giants, either because they played all or part of their careers with the team, or were Giants coaches or owners.
The Giants, however, never have had their own place to honor the franchise’s greatest and most influential figures. Until now. One of the greatest features in the New Meadowlands Stadium is the Legacy Club, which is devoted to the franchise‘s storied history. The Legacy Club, presented by New York-Presbyterian Hospital, houses the greatest collection of Giants artifacts and memorabilia ever assembled in one place. Fans can relive more than eight decades of Giants history through a stunning visual experience featuring interactive video screens, including Giants highlights and interviews with the franchise’s legendary players, coaches, and owners. There are displays with historic game-worn jerseys and helmets and many never before seen artifacts. In addition, all of the Giants’ Super Bowl and NFC Championship trophies are on display.
On Sunday night, the Giants will take another step in acknowledging their tremendous history with the unveiling of their Ring of Honor. The Ring recognizes 30 prominent men who have helped the Giants win seven NFL championships and almost 650 games. The members of the Ring of Honor were selected by the Giants organization based on their contributions to the success and history of the franchise, whether they were players on the field, coaches on the sideline, executives in the front office or owners. Each member of the Ring of Honor played a unique and indelible role in helping make the Giants franchise one of the most successful in NFL history.
“The Ring of Honor and a Hall of Fame are elements that have been discussed for quite some time,” said John Mara, the Giants President and Chief Executive Officer. “For many years fans have asked us why we had neither, and our response always was that we would when either Giants Stadium undergoes a refurbishing or we have a new stadium. So it was important that we have one or the other in our new building, and it has worked out that we now have both a Ring of Honor and a Legacy Club to recognize the great players and coaches and others who have made our organization what it is.”
“The Ring of Honor and the Legacy Club are great reminders for all of us of the responsibility we have in upholding the tradition of those who came before us,” said Giants Chairman and Executive Vice President Steve Tisch. “It is with tremendous gratitude that we recognize the 30 individuals who are being inducted for their contributions to our organization.”
The Ring of Honor will be displayed in the end zones of the New Meadowlands Stadium at every Giants home game.
The names of all 30 members of the Ring of Honor will be made public at halftime of Sunday night’s game against the Chicago Bears.
A Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee in 1977, Gifford played for the Giants from 1952-64, although he voluntarily retired in 1961 due to a serious injury suffered the previous season. He was known as one of the most versatile backs in NFL history. Gifford was the first choice in the draft by the Giants in 1952 after an All-America career at Southern California. He totaled 9,862 combined yards during his career. He rushed for 3,609 yards, caught 367 passes and scored 484 points. Gifford was named to the Pro Bowl as a defensive back in 1953 and as an offensive back the following year – a first in NFL history. He played in seven Pro Bowls and was named All-NFL four times and NFL Player of the Year in 1956. Gifford holds the Giants record with 78 touchdowns. A true triple-threat back, Gifford threw 14 touchdown passes in 60 attempts on the halfback option. He retired after the 1960 season and returned in 1962 at a new position, flanker. The Giants reached the NFL Championship game five times during his career, including their victory in 1956.
Gogolak played for the Giants from 1966-74 and is the highest-scoring player in the history of the franchise with 646 points – 120 more than runner-up Brad Daluiso. He also owns the franchise records for field goals (126) and extra points (268). Beyond his prowess as a kicker, Gogolak is a significant figure in the history of pro football. When he moved from the Buffalo Bills to the Giants, Gogolak became the first prominent player to leave the upstart American Football League for the NFL. Wellington Mara signed him after watching rookie Bob Timberlake miss 13 consecutive field goal attempts. Gogolak was also pro football’s first soccer style kicker. Prior to Gogolak, placekickers approached the ball straight on, with the toe making first contact with the ball. Gogolak, who was born and played soccer in Hungary, approached the ball at an angle and kicked it with his instep – the style all kickers use today.
Simms was George Young’s first draft choice in 1979 and he played his entire 15-year with the Giants. He overcame a series of injuries early in his career to become the most productive quarterback in team history. Simms holds the Giants career records for pass attempts (4,647), completions (2,576), yards (33,462) and touchdowns (199). He was 95-64 (.597) as a regular season starter and 6-4 in the playoffs. But Simms is best remembered for his almost flawless performance in leading the Giants to victory in Super Bowl XXI. He completed 22 of 25 passes – including all 10 of his throws in the second half – for 268 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions in a 39-20 rout of the Denver Broncos. In one of the easiest votes in history, he was selected the game’s Most Valuable Player.
Few players in Giants history were as dependable and productive as Strahan. He seldom missed a practice and played in a franchise-record 216 regular season games. Beginning in 1996, he played in 136 consecutive games before tearing his pectoral muscle midway through the 2004 season. Strahan was selected to seven Pro Bowls, was named the 2001 NFL Defensive Player of the Year and was the Giants’ Most Valuable Player that year and in 1998. He was a captain on the 2007 Super Bowl championship team. His 141.5 sacks are the highest official total in team history (Taylor had 142.0 but 9.5 as a rookie in 1981, the year before sacks became an official statistic) and the fifth-highest total in NFL history. He set the league’s single-season sack record with 22.5 in 2001 and his NFL-best 18.5 sacks in 2003 made him the Giants’ only two-time league leader in that category. Strahan’s 868 tackles indicates he was also an excellent defender against the run.
Barber joined the Giants as a second-round draft choice in 1997. When he retired following his 10th season in 2006, his name was all over the franchise’s record book. Barber owns the Giants marks for rushing attempts in a career (2,217) and in a season (357 in 2005) and rushing yards in a career (10,440), a season (1,860 in 2005) and a game (234 at Washington on Dec. 20, 2006 in his final regular season game). Barber has the top three and four of the top five single-season rushing totals in Giants history and the two highest game totals. His 38 100-yard games are twice as many as No. 2 Joe Morris and his nine 100-yard games in 2004 is another record. Barber has the longest run from scrimmage in Giants history (95 yards at Oakland on Dec. 31, 2005) and his 55 rushing touchdowns are another one of his records. Barber’s 17,359 all-purpose yards give him another record. He owns the Giants’ top five single-season total yardage figures. Another one of his records is 13 catches at Dallas on Jan. 2, 2000. Barber is also second in franchise history with 586 career receptions. He was selected to three Pro Bowls (2004-06).
When Parcells began coaching the Giants in 1983, the team had finished with a winning record just once in the previous 10 seasons. Parcells led the Giants to the playoffs in his second and third seasons. In 1986, he coached one of the greatest teams in Giants history. That year, the Giants won their last 12 games and finished 17-2, including a 39-20 rout of the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XXI. Four years later, Parcells led the Giants to a 20-19 victory over the favored Buffalo Bills in Super Bowl XXV. He left the team after that season with a 77-49-1 regular season record. The 77 victories are the second-most in team history, behind Owen’s 153. Parcells holds the Giants’ record with eight postseason wins.