The New York (Football) Giants are one of the most storied franchises in the National Football League and in the history of North American professional sports, in general. Big Blue has won four Super Bowl Championships over the past few decades, and the club won four NFL Championships prior to the Super Bowl era. Famous names such as Wellington Mara, Lawrence Taylor, Phil Simms, Frank Gifford, Bill Parcells, Tom Coughlin, Eli Manning and Odell Beckham have all been associated with the Giants throughout the club’s existence. Numerous owners, executives, coaches and players who have ties to the Giants have been honored by halls of fame and other similar institutions, and the team’s official Ring of Honor is filled with names that are noticeable to passionate fans of all ages.
Depending on your age and how strongly you follow the Giants outside of football Sundays, it’s likely you’ve forgotten a variety of individuals who played for the club throughout the decades. Some of the men mentioned in this piece earned championship hardware during their stints with the Giants. Others, unfortunately, seemingly came and went without much fanfare before falling out of the public eye. One thing that’s become clear since 2004 is that those who serve as a backup to quarterback Eli Manning had it easy during seasons, largely because Manning hasn’t missed a start since taking over for Kurt Warner back in ‘04. Perhaps Ryan Nassib, Manning’s backup throughout the 2016 season, will be mentioned in a future edition of such a list.
16 Jay Alford
When the Giants took a flier on defensive tackle Jay Alford in the third round of the 2007 NFL Draft, the hope was that the Penn State product could eventually become a mainstay on what was already a solid defensive line. That never happened, but Alford was responsible for one memorable play as a Giant. He sacked New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady late in Super Bowl XLII, a moment that helped Big Blue secure the upset victory on that fateful night.
15 David Wilson
It doesn’t seem as if it was that long ago when David Wilson was advertised as the potential next top running back for the Giants. The Giants drafted Wilson in the first round of the 2012 NFL Draft, but the physically-gifted athlete lasted less than two full seasons with the club before he was diagnosed with spinal stenosis in the fall of 2013. It was eventually recommended Wilson never again play a down of pro football, and he officially retired from the game in the summer of 2014.
14 Hakeem Nicks
Wide receivers David Tyree, Mario Manningham and Odell Beckham will be remembered by generations of Big Blue fans for different reasons. It is, however, possible Hakeem Nicks will become somewhat of a forgotten man. The Giants acquired Nicks in the first round of the 2009 NFL Draft, and he was an important player throughout a playoff run that ended with New York beating the New England Patriots to win Super Bowl XLVI. Nicks failed to impress during his final season with the club, and the Giants allowed his contract to expire after the 2013 campaign.
Nicks spent time with multiple teams, and he even made a brief return to the Giants in the fall of 2015. He was last with the New Orleans Saints in 2016, and he's currently a free agent. In the spring of 2017, Nicks helped run the annual VTO Sports Elite Football Camp.
12 Terrell Thomas
It’s unfortunate we’ll never truly know what cornerback Terrell Thomas could have been as a player for the Giants and in the NFL. Thomas flashed all kinds promise during his days at USC and during his first couple of seasons. Unfortunately, he also dealt with numerous injury setbacks as a young pro. Most notably, Thomas suffered multiple freak non-contact knee injuries that significantly shortened what could have been an incredible NFL career.
11 Matt Dodge
We understand if knowledgeable fans of the Giants are cringing upon seeing Matt Dodge mentioned in this piece. Dodge was the punter on the field late in the December 2010 game versus the Philadelphia Eagles when he failed to boot the ball away from speedster DeSean Jackson with seconds remaining on the clock. Jackson returned the ball all the way for a walk-off touchdown, and Dodge quickly became a villain in the eyes of Big Blue supporters.
10 David Diehl
Offensive linemen do the dirty work up front and don’t create highlight-reel moments when playing in big games, and, thus, individuals such as former New York lineman David Diehl can quickly become forgotten once their on-the-field careers end. Diehl won a pair of Super Bowl rings during his tenure with the Giants, and the 160th overall pick of the 2003 NFL Draft spent 11 seasons with the club before calling time on his playing days.
9 Kevin Boss
Tight end Kevin Boss was an anonymous figure among pockets of New York fans until the club faced the New England Patriots at Super Bowl XLII in February 2008. Boss and Eli Manning connected for a 45-yard pass play during that encounter, and Boss went on to become a starter for the Giants in the fall of 2008. That Super Bowl moment remains the top highlight of Boss’ NFL career.
8 Ramses Barden
On paper, Ramses Barden had all the tools to develop into a dynamic wide receiver after being drafted by the Giants in 2009. Barden stood at 6-6, and he seemed capable of competing for and catching passes on just about any red zone play. Outside of a handful of standout performances, though, Barden failed to establish himself as one of Manning’s favorite targets, and he quietly vanished from the NFL as an active player in the fall of 2014.
7 Brad Benson
Football fans old enough to remember watching the Giants during the 1980s may remember Brad Benson because the former offensive lineman was known for having a cut on his nose that would often bleed during contests. Benson played for the Giants team that defeated the Denver Broncos at Super Bowl XXI, and he remained in the New Jersey area following his career.
6 Leonard Marshall
Former defensive lineman Leonard Marshall enjoyed a successful career with the Giants, during which he won a pair of Super Bowl titles from 1983 through the 1992 campaign. Unfortunately, Marshall is now one of many players from a previous generation dealing with problems caused by the head injuries he suffered on football fields around the country. Per Gary Myers of the New York Daily News, Marshall has been told he’s dealing with symptoms of Parkinson’s disease and also chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).
5 David Carr
Many football fans out there will remember David Carr for his stint with the Houston Texans, much of which was spent getting sacked during games due to playing behind lackluster offensive lines. Carr eventually joined up with the Giants, where he sat as backup to Eli Manning on multiple occasions. The Giants, fortunately, never needed Carr to start during his two stints with the club, and the former number one draft pick retired as an active player in 2013.
4 Tyrone Wheatley
Fans of the New York Giants hoped the club had a future franchise running back when the team drafted Michigan’s Tyrone Wheatley in the first round of the 1995 NFL Draft. Wheatley impressed throughout his college career, but he was mostly a flop during his few years with the Giants. Wheatley did find more success after the Giants orchestrated a trade that involved sending the back to the Oakland Raiders, and he remained an active player up through the end of the 2004 NFL season.
3 Dave Meggett
The Giants selected running back David Meggett in the fifth round of the 1989 NFL Draft, and he quickly became a weapon on offense and special teams. Meggett was on the New York team that beat the Buffalo Bills at XXV, and he also spent time with the New England Patriots and New York Jets. Unfortunately, Meggett found himself in legal trouble on multiple occasions following his career. In November 2010, Meggett was convicted on charges of criminal sexual conduct and burglary regarding an alleged incident that involved a female college student in January 2009.
2 Jerrel Jernigan
As great as Odell Beckham has been during the first several seasons of what could, when all is said and done, be a Hall-of-Fame career, the Giants have also missed on several players at the position this decade. New York grabbed Jerrel Jernigan during the third round of the 2011 NFL Draft, and Jernigan was on the roster when the Giants defeated the New England Patriots at Super Bowl XLVI. He was never able to become a member of the team’s starting lineup, however, and he and the Giants parted ways following the 2014 campaign.
1 Jared Lorenzen
Jared Lorenzen will always be remembered as the oversized quarterback -- the “Hefty Lefty” as fans called him during his college and pro stints -- who played at Kentucky and later for the Giants as a backup to Eli Manning and a QB who rarely saw the field during meaningful games. Lorenzen later spent time playing in the Ultimate Indoor Football League, where he won Most Valuable Player honors and became commissioner of that league. Lorenzen suffered a broken leg while playing for the Northern Kentucky River Monsters of the Continental Indoor Football League in February 2014, and that essentially ended his active playing career.
The QB once affectionately known as the “Pillsbury Throwboy” also started an apparel company known as ThrowboyTees, and items can be found and purchased at throwboytees.com.
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