Giants fullback Comella was born to play football
Updated: Thursday January 25, 2001 11:51 AM
By Josie Karp, CNNSI.com
TAMPA, Fla. -- Walk into Comella's restaurant in West Newton, Mass., and there is a television tuned to sports.
This could be any restaurant in America, but if you happen to see Gene Comella there, the connection is obvious.
Thirty years ago Gene Comella was a fullback at Boston College. A career businessman, 12 years ago he opened the restaurant so that he'd have an endeavor that would keep him close to his children.
The oldest is now a 29-year-old woman and a marathon runner, Erin.
The youngest two followed in their father's footsteps -- they're college fullbacks.
The oldest boy is in Tampa preparing to play in the Super Bowl. He is? You guessed it, a fullback, too. The Giants' Greg Comella comes by his toughness and his position genetically.
"He gets all his athletic ability and his intelligence from his mother," jokes Gene, who is getting ready to join the family in Tampa later this week. "His good looks, he gets from his father."
Behind every Super Bowl player is a super story, and this is Greg Comella's. Gene's restaurant turns out the world's best meatballs. Gene helped turned out one of the game's unsung heroes.
Two stories illustrate the deep bond between the father and his sons, the connection that shows up on the football field and in their eyes.
John Paul Comella, 20, was in a New York City restaurant recently and someone had to stop. He looked so much like that kid who plays for the Giants, he was told. No coincidence, John Paul replied, because the third-year player and first-year starter is his brother.
Matthew Comella, 24, was at the Meadowlands to watch the Giants humiliate the Vikings. He sat waiting for his brother at his locker aftwerward, and reporters began to gather.
"They started asking him questions," recalls Gene. "They thought he was Greg, they look so much alike."
Greg, 25, was in the shower. It took some convincing, but the reporters relented and saved the questions for Matthew's big brother.
"They all have the same toughness, and a willingness to sacrifice themselves for their team," Gene said.
Those qualities landed Greg Comella in the Super Bowl. He's taking his family with him. If you're in Tampa, look for the gentlemen with the sturdy builds and the intense focus. You're probably looking at one of the Comellas.
Good luck trying to figure out which one.