Berger’s Burg:

By Alex Berger

It was July 199l. My football Giants won the Super Bowl, defeating the Buffalo Bills 20-19. It was time for the players to receive their Super Bowl XXV rings. Before winning the Super Bowl, the previously hapless 199l and present 2008 Giants were the butt of many jokes, which I will repeat between paragraphs.

Q. What do the Giants and opossums have in common? A. Both play dead at home and get killed on the road.

In 1991, I was seeking early retirement from my position as a city supervising district chief after 31 years. It was time for me to find something else to do for the rest of my life.

Looking around — and luck was with me — TimesLedger Newspapers was adding new newspapers and needed new columnists. I contacted the newspaper and set up an appointment with Steve Blank, TimesLedger's publisher and editor.

Q. What do you call 47 people sitting around a TV watching the Super Bowl at home? A. The Giants.

With fear and trembling, I was ready to meet Blank. He sat me down, asked a few preliminary questions and then advised me to submit an original column the next morning. All well and good, but (gulp), what do I write about?

Q. What's the difference between the Giants and the Taliban? A. The Taliban has a running game.

Do I write about my adventures in city government? No. My personal life? No. Any or all of my seven brothers and sisters? No. At that moment of indecision, my son, Jon, then-Giants computer coordinator, visited to show me his 10-carat, 16-diamond, gold Super Bowl ring he and the players were presented with. I took one look and had the theme for my column: “Super Bowl Ring Visits Whitestone.” I sat down in front of my word processor — I did not own a computer — and hurriedly completed that first column.

Q. What do you call a Giant with a Super Bowl ring? A. A thief.

I presented my manuscript to Blank, who told me to go home and wait for his decision. Three gut-wrenching days later, Blank telephoned me and said I had the job. That was about 850 weekly columns ago and still counting.

Q. How do you keep a Giant out of your yard? A. Put up goal posts.

Now it is July 2008 and déjà vu has struck. My football Giants won Super Bowl XLII, defeating the New England Patriots 17-14. The Giants received Super Bowl rings, nearly four months following their one-for-the-ages victory. The executives and players traveled to the Tiffany & Co. store on Fifth Avenue, where a blue carpet — for the “Big Blue” Giants — was rolled out and a horde of frenzied fans were waiting.

Q. Where do you go in case of a tornado? A. To Giants Stadium. Not one touch-down was ever recorded.

Inside, the team picked up the final piece of its world championship: the Tiffany-designed, white gold, diamond-crusted, bejeweled, Super Bowl rings with courage, pride and memories. The private ring ceremony commenced with the sounds of AC/DC's “Hells Bells,” the song played prior to every Giants Stadium kick-off.

Q. How can you tell when the Giants are going to run the football? A. The running back leaves the huddle with tears in his eyes.

Following customary speeches, the rings were deservedly bestowed upon the team.

Q. How many Giants does it take to win a Super Bowl? A. Nobody knows because it will never happen.

The coveted ring, which features three Vince Lombardi trophies for each of the Giants' Super Bowl championships, cost $5,500 each, with an estimated appraised value of $25,000. It was designed with the help of Tiffany and Giants executives and a four-player committee of team spokesmen: quarterback Eli Manning, center Shaun O'Hara, defensive end Michael Strahan and wide receiver Amani Toomer.

On one shank is the game's final score, 17-14. The other reads “Eleven Straight [victories] on the Road,” in celebration of the team's NFL record winning streak, including the three playoff games they had to win en route to their Super Bowl victory.

So, it is déjà vu as I write another column about a Giants Super Bowl ring. In addition, to all those bloggers who passed along their nasty sayings about the 199l and 2008 Giants: “Ho, ho, ho, who has the last laugh now?”

Contact Alex Berger at news@timesledger.com.

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