Tiny Upstate New York towns considered part of Patriots Nation

Derrick Balinsky

The loyalty of National Football League fans to their favorite players and teams is legendary. Even more so when there’s family involved.

When the New York Giants take the field against the New England Patriots on Sunday in Super Bowl XLII, there will be more at stake than just the Lombardi Trophy.

Consider the matchups that already have drawn plenty of hype: Pats’ quarterback Tom Brady and his “bootie” vs. The New York Post; Brady vs. Super Bowl rookie Eli Manning; and Pats’ Coach Bill Bellichek vs. Giants’ Coach Tom Coughlin.

Now, throw in a little hometown hype from and you’ve got Mike Waufle vs. Josh McDaniels.

Waufle, a 1972 graduate of Hornell (N.Y.) High School, has worked his way up through the collegiate and NFL ranks as a defensive line coach and is serving under Coughlin for the Giants.

Josh McDaniels, meanwhile, has only made short visits to the Canisteo, N.Y.-area, growing up in Canton, Ohio.

“I haven’t seen Josh since he was a senior in high school,” said Joyce McDaniels, Josh’s great aunt who lives in Canisteo, N.Y.

“They’re a great family, very family-oriented,” she added.

Thom McDaniels, Josh McDaniels’ father, is the head coach at Massillon Jackson High in Massillon, Ohio.

“Josh grew up on the football field; his dad was a coach,” said Everett “Skinny” McDaniels, Josh’s grandfather who grew up in Hornell, N.Y. “He was always out on the field so he really kind of grew up with football in his blood.”

Josh McDaniels’ path to the Patriots didn’t come easily. In fact, it almost didn’t happen, as Everett McDaniels recalled.

“After graduating, Josh started work in his field and he received a call from the Patriots and they were interested in hiring him for an opening that they had,” Everett McDaniels said. “But he didn’t hear back from them. The following year he got another call and they asked for an interview. He went to Foxboro and was hired right away.”

Everett McDaniels said he speaks with both his son and Josh McDaniels quite frequently, although he missed his usual Sunday phone call as the Patriots’ enjoyed a send-off celebration at Gillette Stadium. After the rally that lasted about an hour, players boarded the yellow buses and headed off to Logan International Airport.

“We talk on the phone. He’s already left for the west (Sunday) and I missed him,” Everett McDaniels said. “I’ll talk to him later this week and we did speak after the (AFC) championship game. Josh is kind of like an old-timer now. He’s excited, but he doesn’t display it; he doesn’t lose control of himself. He’s strictly business.”

While Josh McDaniels may not remember all of his relatives in and around the Canisteo, N.Y., area — it’s been “quite a while” since he last visited — the cousins, aunts and uncles certainly know of his triumphs.

In fact, you might as well include Canisteo, N.Y., near the top of Patriots Nation.

“Are you kidding? I wouldn’t miss a Patriots’ game,” Joyce McDaniels said. “If they are playing, you’ll find me right in front of the TV.”

“Incidentally, Canisteo is a suburb of Foxboro,” Everett McDaniels said. “The people in Canisteo and Hornell all know the name because of Joyce, Tommy and Mike. They claim ownership to Josh, they all have bragging rights.”

The Evening Tribune