Giants fans from New England wouldn't miss this game for the world

Greg Sullivan

Something told Bob Plummer it was time to conduct a quick personal inventory.

He was casually strolling the streets of midtown Manhattan with his daughter Kelly and granddaughter Chloe when he sensed something was missing.

Wallet? Check.

Cell phone? Check.

Keys? Check.

Tickets? Uh oh!

An hour or so after picking up his two Super Bowl tickets across the Hudson River at Giants Stadium, Plummer went into a panic. He realized he had left the tickets – face value $700 apiece; resale value many times more – on the visor of the car he had just left with an attendant at a parking garage.

“I hadn’t run since I replaced my knee in 1999,” said Plummer, 61, a Somerset, Mass., resident and a retired Massachusetts State Trooper. “I looked like O.J. (Simpson) in those old Hertz commercials. I ran three blocks back to the garage.”

The tickets were there, on the visor, and Plummer maintained his sanity.

The tickets, 26 rows up in an end zone at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz., are for Plummer and Brian Andrade, 52, of Fall River, Mass., a U.S. Postal employee and local high school football and baseball game official.

They are part of a Greater Fall River crew that, armed with season tickets, attends New York Giants home games in East Rutherford, N.J. Most are members of the New York Giants Fan Club of New England, and they take their fanhood very seriously.

On Sundays when the Giants play at home, the 15-man van rented from Fisher Bus Co. pulls out of Somerset, with Plummer at the wheel. Three-and-a-half hours later (includes a pit stop at the first McDonald’s on Interstate 95 in Connecticut), they arrive at Giants Stadium, hook up with a huge group of Giants’ fans from New Jersey, and put on a tailgating clinic.

Plummer has been attending New York home games since Giants Stadium opened in 1975. He secured his own two season tickets in 1984.

Andrade started attending games in the early 1980s, hooked up with Plummer’s crew about 1990 and got his own season tickets in the late 90s.

Plummer has attended all three Giants’ Super Bowl appearances, getting into the first two games. His ticket for the 1987 win over Denver cost $75. The face value for the Super Bowl XXV ticket against Buffalo was $150.

For Super Bowl XXXV against Baltimore in Tampa, Fla., scalpers wanted $1,700 per ticket even at the end of the first quarter. Plummer and Andrade passed on that deal, watching the loss to the Ravens in a local establishment where Giants fans were in the heavy minority and Ravens’ fans were rabid.

“We were lucky to get out of there alive,” Andrade said.

This year, Plummer himself came up short in the lottery held by the Giants for their season-ticket holders to buy Super Bowl tickets. But Warren Clarke of Swansea, Mass., the senior member of the local Giants’ fanatics, was a winner. When Plummer started attending Giants’ games, he would use one of Clarke’s tickets.

Clarke, Plummer said, is almost 80 and the Arizona trip to see New York try to thwart New England’s quest for a perfect season would be a bit too much for him. Neither of Ckarke’s sons, Greg and Jeff, could get the time off from work, so Plummer and Andrade became the beneficiaries.

For the record, Plummer wants to make it clear he and Andrade were Arizona-bound, tickets or no tickets.

Their plan was to tailgate at the parking lot in Glendale, watching the game on a huge screen television connected to a generator and setup in an open-back U-Haul.

But along came the tickets, and while the $700 price is steep, the duo is saving money elsewhere. Plummer said his daughter Kelly had airline vouchers they are using. And they will be staying at the home of an Andrade friend in Tucson, the city they had to fly into anyway because flights into Phoenix are all but impossible to get now due to the Super Bowl and a Professional Golf Association event there this weekend.

They leave for Arizona on Friday, one day after Plummer is scheduled to undergo rotator cuff surgery on his right shoulder. He may have to wear a sling.

If so, it’s no big deal.

Like many members of the still huge New York Giants fan base in New England, Plummer became a football fan when the Giants were the local team. The Patriots didn’t exist until 1960, and then they played in the American Football League. The Giants were the logical choice for NFL fans in New England.

Plummer said his father did take him to some Patriots games in the 1960s, and he grudgingly admits the Patriots are his second favorite team – though far, far behind the Giants.

Members of the New Giants Fan Club of New England have been well treated by the Giants, helped no doubt by the fact the late Tommy DiNucci of Fall River was in the military with the late owner of the Giants, Wellington Mara.

“Tommy DiNucci, he’s our grandfather,” Plummer said.

Ever since the Patriots-Giants Super Bowl matchup materialized, Plummer, never one to hide his loyalty (see the huge inflatable Giant in the back of his pickup truck), has reveled in the excitement.

A school bus driver in Somerset, Plummer is enjoying the give and take with the students, of whom nearly all are Patriots fans. One student gave him a pack of Patriots tattoos. Plummer wore his Super Bowl game ticket around his neck during his Monday morning run, with a look-but-don’t-touch rule in effect.

“I love it. I’m having a blast this past couple of weeks,” he said. “I always said sometime in my life I would like to see it, the Giants and Patriots in the Super Bowl.”

“This is it,” Andrade said. “This is the time of your life if you’re a fans of the Giants and Patriots.”

Most of the finished basement of Plummer’s house is a shrine to the New York Giants. Included are plaques, 3,200 football cards, books, laminated game tickets, pennants, toy trucks and cars, seat cushions (they come with the Super Bowl seat), pictures galore, figurines/dolls, a helmet-lamp and a football signed by former Super Bowl XXV Most Valuable Player Phil Simms.

Plummer is also enjoying the Giants’ role of heavy underdog for Sunday’s game. That would just serve to make a New York victory all the sweeter.

“If they win, it’ll be like winning that first Super Bowl,” Plummer said. “After they won that one, I called home and told my wife I don’t care if the plane crashes on the way home.

“Beating the Patriots will be like that. I’m glad the plane didn’t crash. I’d miss this one.”

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