They couldn't be in California for the Super Bowl, but that didn't dampen the enthusiasm of the legions of New York Giants fans who gathered in their favorite taverns to watch their team beat the Denver Broncos 39-20.
"I've been waiting for this all my life," said David Sackler, a 20-year-old student at Hofstra.
"It's the most exciting day in my life," Sackler, who lives in Jericho, said as he watched the game on a 12-foot television screen at the Sports Bar on Manhattan's Upper West Side. "I can't be out in Pasadena, so we came here to enjoy the game with other real Giants fans who can't get out there."
Sackler, his family and about 150 other people paid $90 each to sit at tables in the tavern and have an unlimited bar and buffet.
Others at the saloon, filled with the yells and chants of fans and decorated with team banners and posters, watched the game from bleachers as they munched on hot dogs and drank beer.
When the Giants' win was in the bag the place went wild, as people hugged and danced in the aisles, slapping each other on their backs. The people in the expensive seats showered the others with a stream of napkins.
Richard Silverstein, a 30-year-old vice president at Macy's, 16 of his friends, his father and his future father-in-law gathered at the bar not only for the game but for a bachelor party before his wedding next Saturday.
Silverstein, decked out in Giants hat, T-shirt and buttons, said, "Whatever happens, this will be one party I will never forget."
His longtime friend, 30-year-old David Fuller, said: "The Giants are in his blood. If the Giants win, it's going to be a very happy marriage. If they lose, it's divorce court."
The super celebration erupted in taverns in and around New York City as revelers spilled noisily into the streets. A conga line formed across Second Avenue on the Upper East Side, while patrons of Jimmy Day's in Greenwich Village jumped on barstools and rejoiced.
"It's like we've been born again," shouted Mike Moncton, as he uncorked a bottle of champagne in Gleason's Bar at 75th Street and York Avenue. "I was there in '69 when the Mets pulled off their miracle and I can tell my grandchildren I was here in '87," he said.
"This is the ultimate," said Mary Nash at Jimmy Day's. From the next table, patron Bert Mollar, a 31-year-old sanitation worker, had put on his lucky green overcoat after halftime, to spur the Giants on. It worked.
"My father told me about days like this," Mollar said. "I never thought I'd see this in my lifetime. I mean, we are talkin' the Sahara Desert of football teams. I felt like I found an oasis."
The Giants' last NFL championship came in 1956.
In Moonachie, N.J., at Manny's restaurant, most of the 250 fans watching the game on television stood on tables and chanted away the final seconds until the victory was sealed. Manny's is known as a hangout for Giants Coach Bill Parcells and his players.
"We did it! We did it!" bellowed Wayne Johnson of Wayne, who crouched down with his fist clenched.
Bill Locke of Passaic screamed "Giants, Giants!" repeatedly at a TV screen, as though trying to be heard by the team in Pasadena, Calif.
"This is great," said Bob Martin of Parsippany. "There's been a big change in the last four years. It's unbelievable. I'll be there Tuesday, bright and early." A victory celebration is planned then at Giants Stadium.
Bartender Paul Malin said Manny's has been booked solid with 250 reservations to watch the game for about a month. Patrons received T-shirts bearing the message "I watched the Super Bowl at Manny's" and souvenir menus bearing pictures of Giants players, Malin said.
The victory--the latest in a recent string of one-sided Super Bowls--seemed unlikely after the razor-thin edge the Broncos carried into the locker room at halftime.
In New York taverns, packed with noisy, enthusiastic, supremely confident Giants fans, the huge video screens and tiny TV sets flashed decidedly discouraging numbers at the midway point: Broncos 10, Giants 9.
Yet, the search by long-suffering Giants fans for the proverbial silver lining continued. Wisely, no one was ready to concede.
"We really should be down 20-7," Jim Miley said gamely at the half. Miley, a private investigator and former police officer, was spending Super Bowl Sunday at Maguire's Tavern at 42nd Street and Second Avenue with his wife, a devoted Jets fan. "I thought she'd be rooting against me, but even she feels sorry for the boys in blue."
Though comparatively few in number, some Broncos fans found their team's halftime lead a pleasant surprise.
"I hate the Giants," said Shane Moynagh, an Irish national who said American football is replacing Gaelic football as his sport of choice. Moynagh, 28, took time out from bartending at the Heights Cafe in Brooklyn to express his satisfaction with the first 30 minutes of play.
"Elway and the Denver boys are underdogs. That's another reason I like them," he said.
Three hours before game time, in Brooklyn's Clark Street Station, workers raised an 8-foot video screen, obliterating the green blackboard menu. In one corner, Marvin (Funzie) Schwartz, a 60-year-old exterminator--"Make that pest control engineer," he said--debated the odds with restaurant manager James Nichols and owner Ed Dunne.
"I don't know, I like the over," said Schwartz. "The game spread, I don't want to touch. I think the best bet of the day is the 15-17 line that Joe Morris gains more yards than the entire Denver team." The over-under total Saturday was 40, meaning a bet is on the total points of the game.
Across the Brooklyn Bridge, Michael Scopino put the finishing touches on a mass football party at The Ritz. "You'll notice the posters don't say Super Bowl party, they say Giants victory celebration," proclaimed Scopino, manager of the East 11th Street club. "It's a fait accompli ."