Hall of Fame Game Countdown: ten days…
Nowadays, as far as New York Football Giants fanatics are concerned, the number 10 probably conjures up images of their quarterback Eli Manning. However, once upon a time, that number ten jersey belonged to one of the great punters in NFL longevity history — Jeff Feagles.
Jeff Feagles was a player that kicked a ball around NFL gridirons for over a Black Jack’s sum of 21 or 22 seasons. Impressive right? But what’s more interesting is this story: In 2003, Jeff Feagles was number 10 for the Giants, but legend has it that when Eli Manning was drafted, Eli forked over quite a bit for the jersey number. Here’s the story as told by SI:
As is customary in the NFL, Manning compensated Feagles for the numeral — but not with a load of cash. Instead, the rookie sent the veteran and his family on a week-long, all-expenses-paid vacation to Florida.
Normally, I give you guys the title of the story before the information, but the reason for the withheld title is due to the story name: Giants’ Feagles says Burress stiffed him on jersey payment. And, apparently, that’s exactly what happened. From Eli Manning, Feagles gets a nice trip to Florida for giving up his jersey. From Plaxico Burress, all Feagles got was the opportunity to where number 18:
After giving Manning his number, Feagles was headed into his 17th season in the league. Thus, he decided to switch to No. 17 as a tribute. But a year later another new teammate came knocking for his number. This time it was Plaxico Burress, who had signed with the Giants on March 17 and thought it would be fitting for him to wear No. 17 for his new team.
“I said, ‘you know what, why don’t we do the same deal that I did with Eli,'” Feagles said. “Except I’m kind of re-doing my outdoor kitchen, so I basically told him if he could pay for it we’d be good.”
Goodbye Florida, hello Kenmore.
Instead of striking the deal himself with Feagles, Burress unleashed his agent, Drew Rosenhaus, to negotiate the exchange.
With Burress wearing No. 17, Feagles was numberless once again. In search of his third number in three years, he went with No. 18, this time in honor of his 18th season in the league.
Three years later, Burress is no longer a Giant and Feagles ended up financing his own kitchen. Feagles told SI.com recently that Burress (who was released by the Giants in 2009) stiffed him.
“I never got paid for it,” Feagles said. “I asked [Burress] for it. Every time I went to Drew he said, ‘That’s between you and Plax.’ Bottom line, I never got paid. He basically stole my number.”
And that my friends, is the tale of how Burress stole number 17 from a punter. If that doesn’t justify a gunshot in the leg with pleasant irony, little ever will. But this is not Plaxico day. No, no, no… it’s 10 days to the Hall of Fame game and we still need to talk about one of the great quarterbacks of all-time that wore number 10. The one and only Fran Tarkenton.
Two years before I was born, Fran Tarkenton retired from the NFL. He left the league having passed for 47,003 yards, just a staggering-mind-blowing number to achieve in the National Football League before it was considered pass happy. Tark is known mostly for his Vikings days, and justifiably so. He did play 13 seasons with the Purple People Eaters, throwing 239 touchdowns in their general direction.
However, Fran Tarkenton was also a New York Football Giant from 1967-1971. In that span of time, Fran started 69 games but only won 33 of them, finishing with a less than .500 overall Jints record, but that doesn’t take away from the mans’ legacy.
To this point in his careeer, Eli Manning has 30 game winning drives as the Giants current number 10. Over the course of his career, Fran Tarkenton had 34. The man was a winner. My mother said she watched Fran Tarkenton as a child and that he was scrambling on defenses long before guys like Michael Vick were even born. She claims Tarkenton’s excitement level on the field was on par with guys like Roger Staubach, just thrilling with football moves and toughness. Personally, I always think it’s important to look back to yesterday and appreciate the skills these gridiron greats had in their prime.
When my mom says, “Fran Tarkenton was a scrambler extraordinaire”, I have to double check that statement; because one, I wasn’t alive, and two, you always double check stuff your parents tell you, just as a general rule. Looking back at Fran’s career, the man amassed 3,674 yards and 32 TD’s at 5.4 YPC, plowing through the toughest defenders of the 1960’s and 1970’s. Just incredible talent and skill. When you think back on the number 10, take just a moment to think about how amazing a player Fran Tarkenton was. A true NFL great.
It would be foolish of me to write something about number 10 in Giants lore and not include one of the greatest LB’s in Giants history. No, his name isn’t Lawrence Taylor, but that doesn’t mean Brad Van Pelt wasn’t an animal. This man among boys played with the team as a ferocious leading member of the Giants of the 1970’s and 1980’s. For 11 years and 135 games started, Brad Van Pelt roamed the Giants defense, taking out running backs and would be pass catchers with All-American talent that would see him named as the Giants player of the decade in the ’70s. Wow.
Ed Valentine had this to say about Brad in his Giants by the Numbers series back in 2010 at Big Blue View:
The case for Van Pelt
Van Pelt had the misfortune of being the best player during a horrible period of Giants’ football. He was with the team from 1973-83, and made five Pro Bowl appearances during that time. Until Lawrence Taylor came along, Van Pelt might have been the best outside linebacker in Giants’ history. The Giants only had one winning season while Van Pelt was with the team — Taylor’s rookie year of 1981.
In a Feb. 2009 story about his death at age 57, I found a great tidbit about how Van Pelt came to wear the No. 10 — an unusual one for a linebacker.
Van Pelt wore No. 10 in college and then with the Giants, although that was not a number linebackers were supposed to wear.
“They were supposed to give me a number in the 50s or 90s,” he said. But I was also a backup kicker in college, which I also was my rookie year with the Giants.
“They said, ‘the league might give us a problem, but we’ll give it to you as a kicker that happens to play linebacker.’ It helped my career. I started to get to be a better linebacker and I started getting noticed a little more with that number. They couldn’t forget it. ‘Ten’ just doesn’t belong out there on defense. It was a lucky number for me.”
Since Van Pelt’s passing, he’s been added to the Giants Ring of Honor. Here’s a video from Giants.com highlighting his induction:
Van Pelt was one of the original members of the “Crunch Bunch”, and is truly one of the greatest number 10’s in the history of, not just the Giants, but any NFL organization. With the Hall of Fame game in just 10 days, what better way to get ready, but by remembering the historically incredible career of a player like Brad Van Pelt. A real Giant great.
Is it football season yet? No… but training camp is underway. Football is back!