Defeated Giants return home to only a handful of fans
Updated: Wednesday January 31, 2001 12:49 AM
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) -- The New York Giants returned home to the cheers of a handful of fans Monday and tried to keep a disappointing Super Bowl performance in perspective.
Running back Tiki Barber said in the parking lot outside Giants Stadium that it was frustrating to see his team not put forth its best effort in Sunday's 34-7 loss to the Baltimore Ravens, since it was "the biggest game of our lives."
But he said the team would regroup and learn from failure. "We have a lot to be proud of," he said.
Other team members didn't talk to the media after arriving with family at Newark International Airport and taking buses to the Meadowlands. Head coach Jim Fassel hugged a staff member who greeted him as he got off the bus and silently walked toward team offices.
A team meeting was scheduled for Tuesday.
A United Airlines employee working while the team landed at the airport held up a sign reading "Thanks for a great season," and eight fans in Giants blue clapped and waved as team members drove out of the stadium's parking lot.
"The Giants made it to the Super Bowl. That's all that counts," said Frank Rose, 41, who lives in Tampa, Fla., but grew up in Lyndhurst. "And there was no holding ... on that interception. I watched it 20 times."
The holding penalty that called back linebacker Jessie Armstead's interception return for a touchdown would have tied the game at 7-7 early in the game.
Bob Freeze, 64, of Lodi, said of the call, "I think that broke their back right there."
But Freeze said the Giants deserved recognition for overcoming low expectations to go as far as the team did.
"Nobody would give them credit," he said.
Also waiting was Les Krieger, 38, who drove over an hour from Sussex County to deliver a box of chocolate cookies to the team. The present was a gift from a 9-year-old boy who received a helmet autographed by seven or eight Giants players, Krieger said.
Krieger, holding his cookie box, looked at the sparse crowd of fans in disgust.
"They're not fans, not true fans," he said of those who weren't there.
But Walter Beese, 36, of Lyndhurst, came, even though he has better memories of the last two Super Bowl homecomings. The Giants beat the Buffalo Bills 20-19 in 1991 and defeated the Denver Broncos 39-20 in 1987 in the team's last two Super Bowl appearances.
"I was here 10 years ago when they won," Beese said. "I was here in 1987. I just felt that I had to be here today."