After a disappointing 7-9 season, the New York Giants will be forced to endure the pain of watching another NFL team be crowned world champions in their home stadium. For many, like safety Antrel Rolle, that will be too much to bear. For others, like co-owner John Mara, it's about cheering on the lesser of all evils. And, at least for him, that comes by way of the Carolina Panthers and former employee/friend Dave Gettleman, who left the Giants less than a year ago to take over as General Manager of the Panthers.
“For me, having them in the building Super Bowl week would not be the least painful thing at all, in fact it would be kind of fun, actually," Mara told the New York Post. “I certainly can’t say the same about some of these other teams. … I’d be welcoming back an old friend."
But the friendships and connections between the Giants and Panthers only just begin with Gettleman.
Al Holcomb, a former defensive assistant with the Giants, currently coaches the linebackers in Carolina. And two of the men he coaches? Super Bowl XLVI hero and two-time Super Bowl Champion Chase Blackburn, as well as Dan Connor, who was with the Giants to start the 2013 season.
But wait, there's more…
The Panthers sport several other familiar faces, including wide receiver Domenik Hixon and practice squad guard Michael Jasper.
“I follow them pretty closely, been very happy with their success other than the third game of the season where they just kicked our asses up and down the field," Mara said.
The Giants, of course, also have linebacker Jon Beason, who was acquired from the Panthers earlier in the season for a late-round pick. And like John Mara, Beason can't help but root for his former teammates and his long-time friends.
“I want them to win because I feel like I’m still a part of the team in terms of what we’ve endured over the last couple of years,” Beason told the New York Daily News. “I’m still debating [whether to go]. You know, you want to be there, but it’s still a tough pill to swallow just in terms of those being my guys. … That’s the thing that hurts the most, to see those guys in the locker room, the family atmosphere we developed.”
While it may be hard for fans to cheer on anyone other than Big Blue, with little left to choose from, why not root for former Giants? Someone, ultimately, has to win, so it may as well be men who once (and likely still do) bled blue.
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