The Buffalo Bills vs The New York Football Giants
In just four short days, the Giants will be facing the Bills in the annual Hall of Fame Game on Sunday August 3rd for an 8:00 PM kickoff.
Both teams will be starting plenty of wide-eyed rookies that will be attempting to leave an impression with the Canton, Ohio football crowd. In our last edition of War Giants Wednesday at GMEN HQ, we went on a little bit of a football rant about what the NFL is about:
The NFL is about war. It’s about battle. It’s about trash talk. It’s about two teams meeting on the gridiron to pound each other into submission. Players risk their well being every snap… Spines are bent backwards… Knees are shredded… Elbows are hyper-extended… Bones snap… Ego’s shatter… Tendons tear and players tear. Every play livelihood is on the line. For every player, each play could literally and sadly be their last. For football is war. It’s the best athletes in the free world beating on each other with millions of dollars on the line.
Fans watch the carnage, but more importantly, they live for the story lines and thrive vicariously through their armored Sunday warriors. From fantasy football to pee wee leagues for preschoolers all the way up NFL shuffleboard in nursing homes — football is everywhere. It’s on your phone, tablet, laptop, and PC, not to mention the traditional TV. Sponsors are emptying their pockets to the NFL. High Definition TV’s are becoming standard in large part because of the NFL.
But football is also about young kids reaching their dreams of playing in the NFL. Walking out onto a field in a city that speaks of greatness just by saying its name: Canton. That word is synonymous with the Hall of Fame because of all the legends housed within its limits. Imagine it, feeling the electricity in the air, how would you feel standing next to Eli Manning in the tunnel. Sure it’s a preseason game, but to your left Victor Cruz is practicing his Salsa touchdown dance and to your right the Prince of New York is in your ear talking about team WIN.
This War Giants Wednesday, football is four days away. Despite what fanatics would imagine as they picture themselves in GIANT situations that are figment realities in their minds, real life NYG players, rookies and veterans alike, will be feeling that experience in all actuality. The young players on the Giants roster that have never played under NFL lights are reading stories like this, they’re reading their playbooks and they’re probably themselves wondering what it will feel like to run out that tunnel on Sunday Night Football, Hall of Fame Game edition.
For the game between the lines, upwards of 20+ New York Football Giants rookies will make their debuts. A TE like Xavier Grimble may look to the history of Giants rookies that started their careers at the annual Hall of Fame Game. Former standout figure Jeremy Shockey played in the game to begin his career. In that game, a player was injured, never to play again, while Shockey went on to have an exciting career. The Giants beat the Houston Texans in their first ever game — check out this old USA Today report:
CANTON, Ohio — As they joined hands and knelt in prayer on their sideline, the Houston Texans’ first game in the NFL took on much deeper meaning.
Rookie David Carr threw a touchdown pass and the league’s $700 million expansion team looked good in stretches of its debut Monday night, a 34-17 loss to the New York Giants in the Hall of Fame game. (Related item: Box score)
Jesse Palmer passed for 247 yards and two TDs for the Giants, and rookie tight end Jeremy Shockey had a TD catch along with a bruising 48-yard gain where he flattened several Texans.
Houston’s historic first exhibition game was supposed to be a celebration, but it tempered when backup safety Leomont Evans suffered a bruised spinal cord.
Leomont Evans never played again. Soon after, USA Today followed up with this, Injured Evans improving:
As Leomont Evans was being treated, the Texans, who lost their first NFL game 34-17, knelt as a group in prayer in front of their bench. On the other sideline, about a dozen New York players — led by All-Pro Michael Strahan — dropped to a knee.
“You hate to see that,” Giants coach Jim Fassel said. “I just stood there praying. For a while, I could not think of anything else. You see that and that’s when the game and everything else that happens is inconsequential.”
Emergency personnel strapped Evans on a backboard and took his facemask off before immobilizing his head and placing him on the stretcher.
Evans’ injury turned an exciting night of pageantry and history for 23,000 fans and a national TV audience into a somber reminder of the violent nature of pro football.
Evans was drafted in the fifth round in 1996 by Washington out of Clemson.
He started all 16 games with the Redskins in 1999. He was cut in 2000 by Detroit and played last year in the XFL.
Read that again: a somber reminder of the violent nature of pro football.
Professional football is a violent contact sport. Sometimes, even in moments and in places where everything is supposed to be a celebration, reality will rear its ugly head. Regardless of these harsh realities of the NFL, however, football is still in large part for entertainment… an escape from reality. A place for fanatics to go on rants about the enemy teams in the division, using heavy war analogies to describe rivalry. It’s for fun, and in many ways it celebrates players like Leomont Evans, who can no longer suit up.
Which brings us to Leomont Evans Jr. — in the recent present — still chasing after football dreams. And, despite the way his football career ended, Leomont Evans asks his son to ‘be more physical at the point of attack‘:
Leomont Evans Sr. breaks down Evans, Jr:
“Leomont has a great upside, plays fast, instinctive, sure open field tackler, hips rotate well, jams receivers well at the LOS, has great hands and plays with a non-stop motor. He still has some work to do as well. He needs to play with more aggressiveness, be more physical at the point of attack and work on his strength.”
Presently, Evans benches 230, squats 340, power cleans 225 and has 36″ vertical.
Evans is a standout in the classroom as well. He currently has a 3.3 GPA and made a qualifying score on the SAT. He plans to study Electrical Engineering in college.
Giant player or no, the variance in perspective from the Leomont Evans family is intriguing in relation to perceived notions of player safety, versus playing a game and living life to its fullest extent in opportunity. Consider…
Life is a journey from birth until death and football gives us an opportunity to champion our youth in their prime. Not in front of bullets and bombs, such as the case in real war. But with football, pads and helmets are violently striking each other to win in terms of pride, game and sport. Not life and death. Although life and death situations do occasionally sneak their way onto the gridiron despite the games intent to excite and elate with entertainment. Reality is a force to be reckoned with — so are the feelings created by SPORT.
For players that imagine their first game, players like TE Xavier Grimble… not only does he have to face the challenge of living up to a solid Giant like Shockey. He’s also playing in the shadow of legendary Giants TE and Ring of Honor member, Mark Bavaro, whom made his debut against the Oilers in the 1985 Hall of Fame Game. Many fans of the Giants are worried about the TE position. After all, the cupboard appears to be barren. Just realize that twice in Giants history a TE has debuted in the Hall of Fame Game and went on to great success in the NFL.
For Xavier Grimble, from USC, can the third time be a charm? For War Giants Wednesday, with four days left until football with a clock, you can almost feel Grimble’s nerves rising — as he studies his playbook, listens to his coaches, tries to fit in with his teammates, and reads GIANT fan sentiment as he prepares for his first live NFL action against the Buffalo Bills this Sunday. Wow. It’s almost here. What would you do if you were Xavier Grimble, Giants Nation?
Would you rise to the GIANT occasion, or would you falter under the pressure of perceived GIANT needs impossible to live up to?