New York, New Jersey lay claim to NFC champions


Everyone loves a winner, especially New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani. There he was in the New York Giants’ locker room after they beat the Minnesota Vikings 41-0 for the NFC championship, chatting with the players about a possible ticker-tape parade, should the team beat the Baltimore Ravens in the the Super Bowl game on Jan. 28. That didn’t go over well with local officials in northern New Jersey, an industrial area across the river from New York City, who claim potential celebrations should take place in their state, where the team plays its matches. That raised the question — and not for the first time — whose team is this anyway? “They’re a New York-based team,” said Louie Pons, an off-duty police officer from Brooklyn who was shopping for Giants paraphernalia at a Super Bowl store. “They just play in New Jersey.” But John Cimiluca, manager of Manny’s, a sports bar about two miles from Giants Stadium, said the majority of Giants fans come from New Jersey. “They play in New Jersey, they practice in New Jersey, their office headquarters are in New Jersey,” he said. The Giants have played in East Rutherford, New Jersey, since the mid 1970s. Pat Hanlon, a spokesman for the team, said that 52 percent of the Giants’ season ticket-holders live in New Jersey. Most of the rest live in New York State, although some travel from Connecticut and elsewhere. The team’s stance on this matter of geographic principle? Straddling the border. “We represent the New York-New Jersey metropolitan area,” Hanlon said. Many New Jersey fans were angered when the Giants changed the logo on their helmets from “Giants” back to “NY” this season. Tracy Penn of Watchung, New Jersey, didn’t just get mad, he tried to get even by creating a Web site to sell “NJ Giants” hats and T-shirts. “It was set up to protest the Giants changing their logo from just plain Giants back to the New York emblem, since they haven’t played in New York in over 25 years,” Penn said. The NFL was not amused. The league and the Giants sued Penn for trademark infringement, calling his “NJ” logo “blatantly imitative of the Giants’ NY mark.” Penn countersued for harassment. The Web site, which is still up despite the lawsuit, carries a disclaimer saying its merchandise “is intended only as a parody of the current political climate between New Jersey and New York.” Penn was cool to the idea of a potential parade for the Giants in Manhattan. “If they have their parade in New York and don’t at least have one in New Jersey as well, I think you’re going to have an uprising,” he said. The Giants say talk of a parade is premature until after the Super Bowl game. Some longtime fans say it doesn’t matter where the celebration is. Take Long Branch, New Jersey, mayor Adam Schneider, a big supporter. During the Super Bowl in 1990, he and his wife considered naming their daughter “Ottis” after running back Ottis Anderson. He watched the Super Bowl while his wife was nine months pregnant and hoped she wouldn’t go into labor. He would have taken her to the hospital, of course. “I would have had a radio with me,” he said. Schneider had a radio with him as the Giants beat the Vikings last Sunday while he presided over a civic celebration. So where should they celebrate? “If they win next Sunday,” he said, “I don’t care where they have the parade.” Memories of Super Bowl

past for Tampa TAMPA, Florida, AP A Super Bowl in Tampa, a George Bush in the White House and trouble in the Middle East. It might seem as if not much has changed in the decade since this city last played host to the Super Bowl. But take a closer look — many things are different. When Super Bowl viewers last saw Tampa, the United States was at war and the pregame parties were canceled out of concerns of terrorism. There was a recession, so indulging in too many Super Bowl celebrations seemed in poor taste, anyway. Ten years later, the party is on. Tampa is celebrating a decade of turning itself from a hard-scrabble port town into a ritzy remake of its southern Florida cousins. Ybor City, the city’s once-dying Latin quarter, has been revived into an entertainment hot spot. The Super Bowl also presents a golden opportunity to feature a city that wants the 2012 Olympics. “This place is just getting better and better, and looking better and better,” said Mayor Dick Greco, well known as Tampa’s biggest cheerleader. This is Tampa’s third title game; its first was in 1984. Being the host for the Super Bowl almost seems routine, especially after the difficulties that came with the 1991 game. A decade ago, Tampa police worried about terrorist attacks because of the Gulf War. Now traffic and public drunkenness top the list of concerns. Bomb-sniffing dogs, metal detectors and about 300 off-duty law enforcement officers will be patrolling the game area. “We don’t have a Gulf War to worry about or the exaggerated potential for terrorism to worry about,” said Tampa police officer K.C. Newcomb, who has headed security plans for the 1991 and 2001 games. “Things are a little less hectic.” Few civic leaders will deny that Super Bowls have ever come easy to Tampa. So far the 2001 game is relatively trouble free, but it didn’t start out that way. Tampa was awarded the Super Bowl after a hard fought campaign to persuade city voters to approve a sales tax increase to pay for a new dlrs 168 million stadium. The Super Bowl, along with a promise to keep the Buccaneers in Tampa, was dangled before voters. Former Mayor Bill Poe launched a bitter court fight to stop the measure and the use of tax money for the stadium. In 1996, when Tampa didn’t get the 2000 game, Buccaneers owner Malcolm Glazer angrily accused the NFL of breaking its promise. Then, Tampa was abruptly awarded the game a year before bids from other cities were even taken. As for economic impact, others in the community argue the city isn’t financially better off because of the 1991 game, and shouldn’t expect riches now. Despite the big money corporate sponsors who will be here, local economic experts predict only hotels and restaurants will see any kind of boom in the bottom line, said Philip Porter, a professor at the Center for Economic Policy Analysis at the University of South Florida. But Greco, who has guided the city’s renaissance during nearly six years in office, insists the international exposure of the Super Bowl will be invaluable to Tampa. He said he’s debating whether to attend the Jan 28. game because he also wants to see how his city will play before a worldwide TV audience. “I want to savor it,” he said.