Jack Cavanaugh, the acclaimed author of Tunney, will discuss his latest book at Greenwich Library on Monday, November 3 at 7:00 p.m. Giants Among Men transports us to the NFL's golden age to introduce the close-knit and diverse group that won the heart of a city, helped spread the gospel of pro football across the nation and recast the NFL as a media colossus.
Central to Cavanaugh's narrative, and emblematic of the Giants' bond with their followers, was a hard-nosed future Hall of Fame defensive end named Andy Robustelli. A World War II combat vet, a graduate of Arnold College, undersized and nearing age 30, Robustelli nevertheless anchored a Giants defensive unit so ferocious that they were the first team to inspire crowds to chant "Dee-fense!"
But Robustelli and the Giants were a hit on the gridiron, playing in six NFL Championship Games in eight seasons between 1956 and 1963, the most remarkable aspect of this team was perhaps its relationship to the fans. These Giants were largely composed of ordinary joes who were equally at ease hobnobbing with Gleason and Sinatra at Toots Shor's as they were rubbing elbows with working-class rooters on the IRT en route to Sunday games in the Bronx-like many of their fans. Nearly all Giants players worked second jobs off-season to make ends meet.
But the Giants of this era didn't merely affect the fans' relationship to the game; they changed the game itself. The team launched the careers of future head-coaching geniuses Tom Landry and Vince Lombardi, as well as those of a galaxy of stars and future Hall-of-Famers including Frank Gifford, Sam Huff, Emlen Tunnell, Roosevelt Brown, Y. A. Tittle, Charlie Conerly, Rosie Grier, and Pat Summerall. The Giants teams of this remarkable era were tagged with the soubriquet "Mara Tech" (for the Mara family, who had owned the franchise since its inception)-due to the number of players and coaches who later found success in the boardroom, the broadcast booth, and behind the bench.
Filled with historical and cultural insight and vivid portraits of larger-than-life characters and indispensable everymen, Giants Among Men transcends nostalgia and sports trivia to faithfully depict a watershed era for both football and the American nation.
Jack Cavanaugh is a veteran sportswriter who has covered scores of major boxing bouts, along with the Olympics, the World Series, Super Bowl games, the Masters Golf Tournament, and both the U.S. golf and tennis opens. He is the author of Giants Among Men and Tunney and his work has appeared most notably on the sports pages of The New York Times, for which he has covered hundreds of varied sports assignments. In addition, he has been a frequent contributor to Sports Illustrated and written for Reader's Digest, Tennis and Golf magazines, and other national publications.
Giants Among Men will take place on Monday, November 3 at 7:00 p.m. in the Meeting Room at Greenwich Library. The event is free and open to the public. For more information, please contact Local History Librarian Carl White at 203-622-7948.