In the summer of 1969 the New York Jets and New York Giants played a preseason game at the Yale Bowl that attracted over 70,000 people. The storied Giants fell to the Namath-lead Jets that day but the history of New York football in Connecticut was just beginning.
While Yankee Stadium was being renovated, and Giants Stadium was being built, the Giants were without a home. The team was able to convince Yale University to open the Yale Bowl up for home games for the 1973 regular season.
"When the Giants played the Jets in 1969 the whole city became alive," Quinnipiac professor Rich Hanley said, "it was one of the signature cultural events in New Haven post World War 2."
The two seasons spent at the Yale Bowl weren't good ones for the Giants. In fact the Giants only won one game while playing in Connecticut. New Haven rallied behind their temporary home team while throngs of New Yorkers made the trip from the city up to New Haven to cheer on The G-Men.
"The Merritt Parkway was always jammed on Sundays for these games. Everyone coming up from New York to see the action and once they got there they tailgated and then made their way into the stadium to see some ugly football," Hanley recalled.
Hanley, now a journalism professor at Quinnipiac, worked as an usher during the 1974 season. For many of a certain age who lived in New Haven, the time spent rooting for the home team created a long-lasting bond.
John Martin, who works in New Haven remembered the days well. "It was great, you looked forward to seeing them. The whole town would be in an uproar. People would get their stuff together, beer and stuff, and get psyched out. Just to go there and watch them was awesome."
"New Haven is New York football Giants country. Always has been. Always will be," Hanley said.