When the XLVI Super Bowl Champions, the New York Giants, descended down the stairs of the White House on Friday they were greeted with loud cheers. New York fans, many who had traveled to D.C. just for the event, gathered on the South Lawn to get a glimpse of “their” team and to be a part of Giant’s history. Special Pro Player Insiders guest reporter, Griffin Hulkower, was one of those fans.
For 16 year-old Griffin, being a part of that historic tradition has a special significance. So despite the pomp and circumstance of meeting President Obama and seeing his favorite team, what he will remember most are the words that were spoken that day.
The message was clear and began the moment the Commander-In-Chief took the podium to give the G-men their rightful recognition. The president greeted the crowd with remarks about how the Giants conduct themselves on and off the field. He reminded us that this team is always there for service. They bring kids to practices and games, wrap up food and do whatever they can for the men and women in uniform.
When the podium was relinquished to Giants’ Head Coach Tom Coughlin, he made a few witty suggestions about what Congress could learn from the Giants and then shared his thoughts about “his” team.
Football is a team sport he said. The goal for the Giants was not to try and outshine each other but to shine as team. Part of their path to victory Coughlin believes was the slogan “all in” which caught on and inspired the players. It meant that, “everyone plays a key role and it is important to commit to team above self and support, trust and play for each other.”
Coughlin went on to say that the night before the Super Bowl the final message was that, “What matters most is not only how we reach the finish line and why but who crosses the finish line with us. We cross that line as one.”
The coach’s message is equally true in football and in life.
A few years ago, DeMaurice Smith offered my father and I tickets to the NFL game between the Redskins and the Giants. At the time, my father (Mark Hulkower) was too sick with colon cancer to go to the game so my uncle stepped in and went with me. De, while the executive director of the NFL Players Association, was more importantly a friend of my dad and someone who understands the fight against cancer (His wife is a breast cancer survivor and is the honorary co-chair for the Georgetown Lombardi Gala which benefits the cancer center).
Before the game, players, staff members, coaches and other members of the Giants’ family welcomed us. I was struck by how respectful and genuinely kind each player was as we were introduced. At the end of the game, I received autographs from the Giants player and returned home with a helmet covered in signatures as a surprise gift for my father. He loved it.
Being a Giants fan is a tradition that my dad passed onto me. He grew up in the Bronx before moving to Virginia. The change in geography didn’t extinguish the passion he had for his home team.
About a year ago my father’s long-term battle with cancer ended leaving a hole in the Giants’ fan base. He was a fighter – just like “his” team.
The Hulkower’s will always be Giants fans, no matter how good or bad the team is performing. They are an inspiration to everyone and prove that when you’re down, if you come together as a family, you can succeed and be a champion.
They help keep our family going in our battle to end colon cancer and inspire us in the words of Coach Coughlin, “to believe in [ourselves], to never give up and to strive to accomplish [our] goals no matter how difficult the situation might be.”
Thank you G-Men.
By Griffin Hulkower
Follow us on twitter @playerinsiders.
Melissa Mahler contributed to this story.