Ultimate Super Bowl share: Family

"It was the most incredible moment … ever," he said. "I can't even begin to explain it."

And then, the family's low threshold of emotion revealed itself again.

"I'm pulling a grandpa right now," he said, sighing. "I'm emotional just thinking about it."

A Super Bowl first

Jim Burt gets a little choked up when the subject of Super Bowl XXI comes up.

Not because it was the pinnacle of his professional career, but because he cherishes the memory of sharing it with his son and his father.

"Those are the people who helped sacrifice for that moment," the former Giants nose tackle said Wednesday in his elegant northern New Jersey home. "I think of the 4 o'clock rides to hockey games in Buffalo, all the games my dad went to. And when you have kids, the NFL is a demanding job.

"To have them there at the Rose Bowl, with the sun setting, that's something I'll never forget."

When the game got out of hand in the fourth quarter, when it became apparent the Denver Broncos were going to lose, the Giants pulled their starters. Burt yanked off his pads, ran and pulled Jimmy, his 5-year-old son, out of the stands.

In the game's final minutes they actually stood on the playing field. And when it was over, Burt hoisted Jimmy on his broad shoulders and ran around the field screaming. Television cameras captured the kisses and hugs.

In retrospect, it was one of the first memorable postgame reunions the Super Bowl had ever seen.

"I got letters, hundreds of them, from fathers saying they didn't know it was OK to hug and kiss their sons," Burt said. "And they were thanking me. Now, when I see it happening after every Super Bowl, it makes me happy. It brings me back to that moment."

Completing the journey

In only his second season, Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul found himself in the vortex of Super Bowl XLVI. He performed well, knocking down a pair of Tom Brady passes in the second quarter, and pressuring Brady on a game-ending Brady heave that did not find its mark.

"I just went down to my knees and closed my eyes," Pierre-Paul said.

And then, with the 21-17 victory complete, he went looking for his family.

"My teammates are running all over the field," he said. "The confetti was dropping. I've never seen anything in my life like it. The media just bum-rushed me. I did a couple of interviews, [but] I was getting pissed off because I couldn't find my family."

Eventually someone -- he doesn't remember who -- directed Jason to his parents in the stands. His blind father Jean was wearing a No. 90 Giants jersey, and he was smiling. His mother Marie had provided him with a game's worth of play-by-play.

"I ran straight to them and gave them a kiss and a hug and said thank you very much," Pierre-Paul recounted. "If my family wasn't there, I don't feel like I would have accomplished anything."

On the field he pointed to his father and told a camera crew, "That's who I was playing for."

The son gently lifted his father up on the podium and the whole family posed for pictures. After the last one, he and his sister guided him back to his wheelchair.

"I'm 60 years old," Jean said later, "and even if I die right now I'll be happy."

  • 1
  • |
  • 2
  • |
  • 3
Join the Discussion
blog comments powered by Disqus
You Might Also Like...