With the Giants reporting to camp today, I wanted to reminisce handful of times that I’ve attended Giants training camp. I’ve been lucky to go to both SUNY Albany and New Jersey at their practice facility.
I was lucky enough to take two weekend trips up to SUNY Albany. The first time it was before the 2003 season with my father and myself. It was a boys weekend and my first chance to witness anything Giants live. So the 14 year old me was really excited to just be around Giants football for the next 48 hours with my dad.
I remembered clearly that the day we got there it rain, so they had to move the practice indoors. I was so upset, but luckily for us we found a good spot on line and they let a limited amount of people to hang out on top the gym area to watch them work out.
Thankfully, the next day was a different story. It was a beautiful sunny summer day. I remember like it was yesterday. My dad and I had a game plan to get there as early as possible so could try to get as many autographs as possible since I didn’t get any the day before. We bought a yearbook for the upcoming season and I gave my father the yearbook from the previous season. We found a great spot where most of the players would enter the building to get to the locker room. We got a lot of players before practice to name a few was wide receiver Ike Hillard and a bunch of other members of the offense. After practice we hit the gold mine! I got players like Quarterback Kerry Collins and my dad got star running back Tiki Barber. My first trip was a success guys weekend with my father.
The second and final time I took a trip up to SUNY Albany was in 2012 the season after they won Super Bowl XLVI. I brought my younger cousin Sean, who I took the previous season to the first practice of training camp that year because they had training camp in New Jersey due to the NFL and the NFL Players Union signed their new contract right before training camp was set to start so many of the teams just stayed. So I promised him that night that we would take the trip to SUNY Albany the following year.
Very glad that I took him because not only was the Giants defending champions, this was also the final season the Giants went up to Albany for training camp. So we made the most of the two days that we had up there. It was extremely fun because he really loved trying to get autographs from players and it brought him happy. I will never forget how excited he got when he ran over to the huge huddle of people that were trying to get Eli Manning’s autograph and some how he got it. That right there made the trip worth it and we still had another day to go. He 100% did and we went home happy and one of the better times we had going to Giants camps.
Once the Giants moved training camp back home in New Jersey. I would try to go once a year before I purchased season tickets because it was a free way to see the Giants up close and it would give me a good excuse to see my college friends who mostly live up in North Jersey area. So once a year I would map out a day to go head up to camp and if people wanted to join me they were more then welcome to. There was a good three year stretch that I went.
The first time I went to the practice in NJ was after the player lockout. Like I mentioned earlier I took my cousin and we saw on Twitter earlier Justin Tuck wrote that he will sign things for everyone who comes to camp that day as a thank you for dealing with all the drama that the NFL and The NFL PA was dealing with all off season so it was his way to say thank you. What a class act, when Sean saw that he went to print out two photos for the both of us of him sacking Tom Brady in Super Bowl XLII. Still to this day one of my favorite autographs in my giants collection.
The other times we went to Giants camp were just as fun but it became harder and harder to get autographs. However, we did get Steve Weatherford to sign something for my wife Nicole. Even though there aren’t any other cool autograph stories to share, it was still great watching the players working on their craft as professional football players and the players that were on the bubble try to make their dreams come true was really a cool thing to see if you never experienced it.
Hopefully next season fans will be able to attend practice, let alone games. I hope I can restart my yearly tradition and meet up with friends and family to enjoy a day or night out watching the Giants work out.
If you have any great stories about going to training camp or any other cool giants stories that you would like to share them with me, be sure to follow @blueviews324 on Twitter and Instagram. I would love to hear them and talk about them.