Since mid-December, Thomas Morrissey, a loyal Giants fan for over 50 years, has worn the reused Reeboks as he watched the games.
According to the 58-year-old Morrissey, he got the Reeboks indirectly from Abby McGrew, the quarterback's fiancée. Morrissey's son, also named Tom, owns a local moving company called Tommy's Moving. The younger Tom was the one who first got the sneakers.
"[McGrew] asked if my son knew anyone with a size-13 foot, and the next thing I knew, I had a pair of Eli Manning's shoes," recalled the elder Morrissey, who after two knee replacement surgeries, rarely accompanies his son on moving jobs.
"She said, 'This will probably bring us good luck' as she handed them over," recalled Morrissey.
Giants Director of Public Relations Peter John-Baptiste confirmed last week that the sneakers were once Manning's, after John-Baptiste reached out to the young couple.
Morrisey said he met Manning earlier in the year at Hoboken's downtown CVS, and that the quarterback was a "real pleasant guy."
Hoping to bring the Giants luck in the playoffs, Morrissey began wearing the sneakers while he watched the games.
At the conclusion of each game, Morrissey placed the shoes back in his closet for the next match.
"Ever since I started wearing these shoes, the Giants have been playing better ball," he said. "In fact, everyone in the building tells me when the game's about to come on, 'Make sure you wear those sneakers.' It's a tradition now."
The retired painter is known by many in the community for his outgoing personality, which he demonstrates when he operates a hot dog stand in Pier A Park and outside the downtown CVS store.
According to Morrissey, the sneakers are back in his closet for next year's season, when he hopes they will bring Big Blue the same luck.
When asked if he would ever consider selling the "lucky" sneakers, Morrissey adamantly replied, "Never. Those were a gift to me, and I would never do something like that. I'm going to keep those for the rest of my life."
Eli Manning became engaged to McGrew last March. The two met in college.
Even though not everyone owns a pair of lucky Eli Manning sneakers, it didn't stop true blue fans throughout Hoboken from relishing the experience last week.
"They must have had angels on their shoulders," exclaimed an elated Mayor David Roberts, who said he has been a Giants fan since he was a child. "In all my years watching football, I have never seen something as remarkable as that."
The city is planning a local celebration with several Giants players who are Hoboken residents (see sidebar).
Die-hard Giants fan Michael Dunn couldn't agree more. "Once they scored that touchdown at the end, we were freaking out, yelling at the screen, we were so proud to be Giants fans."
Although the 29-year-old Hobokenite watched the game at home with a handful of friends, after the game, he quickly went out to celebrate at Duffy's Irish Pub. The bar continuously re-played the team's touchdowns on the TV set, which according to Dunn created an "insane atmosphere that exploded with electric energy."
In addition to those who rejoiced at their favorite neighborhood bars, many took to the streets Sunday night, banging pots and pans, beeping horns, and screaming out with delight at David-vs.-Goliath-like victory against the previously undefeated New England Patriots.
After watching the game at home with friends, 32-year-old Michael Mendelsohn also made his way to the neighborhood pub to take part in the festivities.
"We walked in to 'New York, New York' [being sung], people were out in the streets, horns were honking, and everywhere you looked in the bar people were doing shots, chanting '18-1' [the record of the Patriots after their loss]. It was amazing," said Mendelsohn.
Board of Education member Frank Raia took 11 other individuals, seven of which were Hoboken students, down to Arizona's University of Phoenix Stadium to watch the game in person.
"It was an amazing experience, especially for the kids. They saw the greatest Super Bowl game ever played," said Raia, who was a Giants' season ticket holder for several decades. He used Big Blue Travel, the New York Giants' official travel provider, for a package. According to Raia, the trip cost him approximately $6,000 per individual, and included several exclusive parties.
One party included the '86 Giants team. On hand were Big Blue legends such as Lawrence Taylor, Harry Carson, and Rodney Hampton.
Raia praised the current team.
"You had all those rookies out there on the field playing their hearts out, not allowing critics who gave them no chance to affect them," he said. "We could be seeing the beginning of a dynasty."
Rumors of 'Eli Street' exaggerated, but city plans celebration
Shortly after the Giants' inspirational victory on Sunday, city officials began planning how they would celebrate the achievement, considering that three prominent players live in town.
City officials said that besides quarterback Eli Manning, who lives in the Hudson Tea Building on 15th Street, linebackers Kawika Mitchell and Mathias Kiwanuka are Hoboken residents. Several Giants live in surrounding municipalities, including Amani Toomer and Derrick Ward, who both live in Weehawken.
Although a date has not yet been set, City Spokesman Paul Drexel said on Thursday that the city plans to hold a ceremony honoring the team for its victory, with a particular focus on those players who live in town. The ceremony will take place in the area of 15th and Washington streets, where part of the sidewalk will be painted blue and red, and a temporary sign will be placed along 15th Street entitled "Manning's Drive."
Last week rumors spread through town saying that the city wanted to permanently name a street after Manning, but this was not the case.
The ceremony, which is contingent upon when the three Giants are available to participate, will also include the mayor presenting the star quarterback with a key to the city, and will involve students from throughout the community, giving them the chance to meet their favorite players. - MM
Michael Mullins can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.