THIS STORY HAS BEEN FORMATTED FOR EASY PRINTING

A Giants 'fan' tests passions in the den of the Patriots faithful


(David L. Ryan/Globe Staff)
Email|Print| Text size + By Matt Viser
Globe Staff / January 26, 2008

To anyone who believes two World Series championships and three Super Bowl victories in six years have mellowed Boston sports fans, about New York, about success, even about life, Jarrod Fonfield has some choice words.

"Oh, you've got to be kidding me," he seethed.

Fonfield, a 29-year-old construction worker and die-hard Patriots fan, happened to be taking a lunch break outside a Downtown Crossing convenience store yesterday. He wasn't speaking to anyone in general, but to a man passing by dressed in a New York Giants cap and a XXXL Eli Manning jersey.

"I don't like New York, period," Fonfield muttered contemptuously. "Giants, Jets, Knicks, Yankees, I don't care. I don't approve of it."

Neither did a lot of others. To test a theory that local sports fans are getting complacent in victory, entitled with all their success, a Globe reporter put on the full colors of next Sunday's Super Bowl opponent and wandered from the crooked streets of downtown to Copley Square and Commonwealth Avenue, from the bowels of the Green Line train stations to the silent stacks at the Boston Public Library.

Drivers rolled down windows to hurl expletives, pedestrians wearing Patriots garb stopped in mid-step to point, yell, and snicker at the loser in the jersey.

"Take that off!" yelled one man wearing Patriots gloves, hat, and coat.

"[Expletive] you!" said a man outside Boston University, pointing, smiling, and chuckling with glee as he climbed into his silver sedan.

One woman simply made eye contact, then stuck out her tongue. A cheery-faced man trying to collect money for a children's charity on a Downtown Crossing street corner avoided shaking hands, saying only, "Giants? Giants?"

The first mission of the day, though, was to find some Giants gear, which was not an easy task.

"You're in the wrong city," said a man dressed like a referee at a downtown Foot Locker.

"We focus on the local teams," said an employee at City Sports around the corner.

Only the Champs Sports at Downtown Crossing, which also carries Yankees jerseys, had some Giants left among Brady, Moss, and Maroney. But all that remained were sizes large enough for a linebacker.

Immediately after the reporter exited the store, expressions from passersby changed. Some people whispered from behind. Others broke out in condescending, knowing smiles.

There was outright disdain not just for the Giants quarterback, but for his entire family.

"Eli Manning sucks! Peyton Manning sucks! Even Archie Manning sucks!" yelled one man about 100 feet away from the store. "That's right. You heard me."

"What bet did you lose?" asked Scott Smith, a 31-year-old construction worker from Dorchester who has Patriots season tickets. "You're lucky I don't have any drinks in me."

Near Copley Station, a truck window lowered and out came, "Giants suck!"

"You got a quarter, bro?" asked a panhandler outside of Wendy's in Copley Square. "Hey, Eli Manning sucks!"

There were looks of disgust in the hallways Boston Public Library's McKim Building. There were distrustful eyes on the inbound Green Line train, as if the guy from New York was about to pick someone's pocket.

Still, the vitriol for the Giants - the only remaining obstacle to a historic undefeated season for the Patriots - does not appear to approach Boston's level of loathing for the Yankees. The Patriots and Giants are in different conferences and don't face each other often. The underdog Giants, who haven't won a Super Bowl since 1991, are a team that some locals quietly respect. Others remember rooting for the Giants before the Patriots came to New England in 1959.

"The Giants, I like them," said Mike Miselman, a 62-year-old cabdriver who remembers pulling for Mel Triplett, Frank Gifford, and Dick Lynch. "They were our adopted team before we got the Patriots. A lot of New Englanders feel the same way."

Though the rivalry with the Giants is barely a rivalry at all, it fits into the larger feud between the Capital of the World and the Hub of the Universe. Boston has always had a chip on its shoulder, sporting victories aside.

"We just want respect," Bryan Puglia, a 23-year-old tuxedo salesman from Wakefield, said near the steps of the Old South Meeting House. "People should respect what we've done - and Spygate has nothing to do with it. We've proven we can go 18-0 without cheating. We're the team to beat, we're the elite."

Dwight Logan, leaning on his cane outside a downtown Borders bookstore, a cigarette dangling out of his mouth, has seen all the rivalries during his six-plus decades watching sports. "Because it's New York, there's hatred," he said. "But it doesn't have the legend of the Celtics-Knicks, Yankees-Red Sox, or Bruins-Montreal. This is new. But it's intense."

Matt Viser can be reached at maviser@globe.com.

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