New York Giants,
professional football team and one of five teams in the Eastern Division
of the National Football Conference (NFC) of the National Football
League (NFL). The team plays at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, New
Jersey, and wears uniforms of blue, red, and white. The club was named
after the New York Giants baseball team, which moved to San Francisco,
California, in 1958.
The Giants appeared in 15 NFL Championship Games from 1927 to 1963,
winning four league titles. (The Super Bowl was not played until 1967.)
For 23 seasons of this time, head coach Steve Owen led the team. His
clubs captured eight division crowns and two league titles. Starring on
the dominant New York squads of the 1950s and early 1960s was Frank
Gifford, one of football’s most versatile players.
New York also built powerful teams during the 1980s and early 1990s,
winning two Super Bowls and making seven playoff appearances from 1981
to 1993. Lawrence Taylor, the dominant defensive player of these Giants,
became one of the most feared linebackers in NFL history.
In 1925 New York City sports enthusiast Tim Mara paid $500 for an NFL
franchise, which he named the Giants. The team played its home games at
the Polo Grounds, which was also the home of the baseball Giants.
Legendary halfback Jim Thorpe was recruited to join the team, which
earned its first league title in 1927 under head coach Earl Potteiger.
The Giants shut out 9 of 12 opponents and surrendered only 20 points
during the entire season.
Steve Owen was an innovative offensive coach who also designed the
platoon system, in which separate players fill offensive and defensive
positions. He guided the Giants to the NFL Championship Game eight times
from 1933 to 1946. The team came away with victories in 1934 over the
Chicago Bears and in 1938 over the Green Bay Packers. New York fielded
the league’s toughest defense five times during that period. Owen had
many offensive stars as well, including end Red Badgro, center Mel Hein,
and halfback Tuffy Leemans—all future Hall of Fame members. Hein, who
was also a defensive lineman, earned player of the year honors in 1938.
Owen left the Giants in 1953, having posted just six losing records in
In 1952 the Giants chose Frank Gifford in the first round of the NFL
draft. Gifford, who played as a halfback and a defensive back, was one
of the NFL’s last stars to play both offense and defense. With Gifford
and a new home in New York’s Yankee Stadium, another Giants dynasty was
born. The team appeared in six NFL Championship Games from 1956 to 1963,
collecting the league crown in 1956 before losing five title contests
over the next seven years. Gifford led the team in both rushing and
receiving from 1956 to 1959, earning player of the year honors in 1956.
In addition to Gifford, New York produced four other future Hall of Fame
members during that era: offensive tackle Rosey Grier, linebacker Sam
Huff, defensive end Andy Robustelli, and defensive back Emlen Tunnell.
The passing combination of quarterback Y. A. Tittle to receiver Del
Shofner keyed New York’s offense in the early 1960s. Shofner broke the
1000-yard mark in receiving yardage in 1961, 1962, and 1963, and
Tittle’s 36 touchdown passes in 1963 stood as an NFL record for 21
years. (It was broken by Dan Marino of the Miami Dolphins in 1984 when
he threw 48 touchdown passes.)
New York failed to reach the playoffs from 1964 to 1980. During this
time the Giants played in the Yale Bowl in New Haven, Connecticut, and
Shea Stadium in New York City before moving to Giants Stadium in 1976.
After several losing seasons in the 1970s, the Giants rebounded during
the 1980s. The club reached the second round of the playoffs in 1981,
1984, and 1985. In 1987 the Giants defeated the Denver Broncos in the
Super Bowl to capture their first league title in 31 years. Lawrence
Taylor was named player of the year, Bill Parcells earned top coaching
honors, running back Joe Morris set a team rushing record, and
quarterback Phil Simms compiled his third consecutive 3000-yard passing
season. New York and Parcells won their second Super Bowl four years
later, defeating the Buffalo Bills. Simms won the NFC passing title, and
the Giants defense held 15 of 16 regular-season opponents to 21 or fewer
points. The Giants played inconsistently during the 1990s after Simms
and Taylor retired and Parcells left the team. The Giants returned to
prominence in 2000, posting a 12-4 regular-season record and reaching
the 2001 Super Bowl, where they lost to the Baltimore Ravens.
1987 Super Bowl XXI Defeated Denver Broncos, 39-20
1991 Super Bowl XXV Defeated Buffalo Bills, 20-19
2001 Super Bowl XXXV Lost to Baltimore Ravens, 34-7
NFL History Guide