A Conversation with Arnie V.

Arnie V. is one of the charter members of the ultimatenyg crew, having been in the original email group that was the humble beginnings of this blog. Today he shares with us some of his thoughts about the Giants and the game he has watched for many decades.

Ultimatenyg: When did you start going to Giants games?

Arnie: “In 1939. I was 6 years old. I was at the game on December 7, 1941. Word spread through the crowd about Pearl Harbor. Back in those days the portable radios were too large (to bring) and all we heard from the announcer was calls for Admiral So and So to call his office and General So and So to call his office. We were playing the Brooklyn Dodgers, a franchise that would end up folding during the war. In fact, during the war the NFL consolidated and you had teams like the Steelers and the Eagles merged. They called them the ‘Steagles.’”

You were at the Colts-Giants 1958 game also?

“Yes. But I did not find that loss as painful as Marvelous did. You see, for me, the Giants had to beat Cleveland not once but twice at the end of the season in order for us to get to the championship game. So it was not as bad for me because I felt that we already had a few pieces of good fortune just to get to that game.”

Any color on the game itself?

“We had come back to take the lead and actually had the ball with a 3 pt. lead when Gifford was running with the ball on 3rd down. Gifford swears to this day that he made the first down. But on the play, Gino Marchetti broke his leg, and Gifford contends that the confusion led to a wrong spot. We had to kick, and the rest is history.”

What was different about the game back then?

“For starters, without free agency, a player was with a team and that was it. Trades did not occur that often. The furor when Huff was traded to the Redskins was enormous. There was very little movement of players from one team to another. Second, obviously the players are bigger and faster today. Third, you had players that used to play both ways. Chuck Bednarik played for the Eagles- he was a Center on offense and a Middle Linebacker on defense. He once hit Gifford so hard that he knocked him out for that season and the next season.”

How has the game changed which is positive?

“The popularity. When I was growing up, Baseball was #1 by a wide margin. College football was much more popular than the Pro game. Today Pro Football is the #1 sport and it benefits from all the attention and interest.”

How has the game changed which is negative?

“The game is now all about the money. Ticket prices are high. The game is for TV and not for the people going to the game. We get cold weather games at night in winter. I am afraid to look at the schedule for what they are going to do to us now that we won the Super Bowl. We’ll be on a lot at night again.”

With Brett Favre having retired, there has been a lot of discussion about his place in history as one of the ten best quarterbacks of all time. Who are your 10 best QB’s?

“Well, I read the blog with what Marvelous had and I agree with every one of his picks. I really cannot offer anyone else who I would have in there. The only person who might be in there is Sid Luckman, but I would keep the 10 that Marvelous had.” (Ultimatenyg note for Marvelous’ Top 10: Unitas, Montana, Elway, and thereafter in no order, Favre, Baugh, Graham, Bradshaw, Marino, Manning and Starr.)

Who was the best Giants player you ever saw?

“LT.”

Anyone else who was close, or honorable mention?

“Gifford.”

Best Giants team?

“The 1986 team that went on to win Super Bowl XXI was the best in my opinion. Everyone made such a big deal about the Patriots winning 18 straight, and they were 18-1. But that Giants team was 17-2 and they were the most dominant Giants team I ever saw. They lost the first game of the season to Dallas on Monday night and proceeded to go 17-1 in the remaining games, which is nearly identical to what the Patriots had done. And of course they won the Championship as well.”

Best Giants play?

“The ‘Miracle in the Desert’ has to be it. It was the culmination of the unbelievable. I used to think the best play was that hit of Montana by Burt in the ’86 playoffs (Giants 49 SF 3) that LT picked off and ran in for a TD, but it was eclipsed by the Manning to Tyree play.”

So 2007 is the best year for you?

“Yes. This year was so unexpected. 2007-8 was the best year because the whole playoff run was one great win after another.”

Most Painful loss?

“The biggest loss had to be the 49ers playoff loss in the 2002-3 season when we blew the 38-14 lead. The Jets loss in 1988 at the end of the season which kept us out of the playoffs was a close second.”

Did you see/predict the old Eli becoming the new Eli?

“No, and certainly not that quick. I was a moderate Eli critic. The Draft Day trade for him seemed very expensive. I was not overly enthusiastic. But now you have to believe that he has the confidence to play at a higher level, so that the new Eli will be with us from now on. I do not mean that he won’t have bad games anymore, but I think we will see better play from him.”

You were one of the more bullish people for 2007. What do you look for in 2008?

“I would be surprised if we had a bad year. I am looking for a good winning season and the playoffs. Maybe deep playoffs.”

Thanks Arnie.

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