The New York Giants have already gone above and beyond to let the town of Newtown, Conn., know that so many are thinking of them in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting, and the team took another step before its regular-season finale against the Philadelphia Eagles at MetLife stadium on Sunday afternoon.
About 200 students from the school participated in pregame ceremonies and watched the game, and an equal number of parents and school faculty, not to mention 50 Wounded Warriors, were with the kids. The group traveled from Newtown on nine chartered buses.
The visitors took the field pregame, and formed two gauntlets to the tunnels for the Giants and Eagles locker rooms. Each team ran through the gauntlets to the field. Then, the visitors circled the field for the national anthem and a moment of silence.
[Slideshow: Sports world honors Connecticut shooting victims]
"Well, I spoke to the team this morning about that," Giants head coach Tom Coughlin said on Friday. "What it really means to all of us is we were so taken aback and so shocked and felt so badly for the families…not only the families of the children, but the principal, the school psychologist and the real heroes who knew exactly what was coming and still charged and attacked and knew what the outcome would be. It’s Giant country, and we know that.
"To have that group from the Sandy Hook Elementary School and the Newtown community come down for this game with Philadelphia, it means a great deal to us and we would certainly like to honor them. The best we can do is take each individual and play to the best of his ability and make a statement as a team as well. We’re not alone in our passion and empathy for this school and for their lost loved ones. I’m sure an entire country feels that way, but it’s special for us to have them here this weekend."
Receiver Victor Cruz has been most publicly affected by the Sandy Hook tragedy -- 6-year-old Jack Pinto, one of the victims, called Cruz his favorite player and was buried in Cruz's jersey. On Tuesday, Dec. 18, four days after the shooting, Cruz traveled to spend time with Cruz's family.
"There were instances where we would take some time and talk football, or talk just life in general, where you would just talk about normal things back and forth," Cruz recalled after the fact. "But those instances lasted about a couple seconds before you could revert back to saying something about Jack or something about the family or something about the nearby family that also suffered a loss and things like that. It was tough."
It was the day after Jack Pinto was laid to rest in Cruz's jersey, and two days after Cruz wore Pinto's name on his gloves and cleats in a game against the Atlanta Falcons.
"I spoke to the Pinto family last week just to check up on them and they're coming along well," Cruz said on Friday. "They're going to be at the game also so I'm excited to see them again. I think it's just good for them to get away a little bit and spend some time on a Sunday afternoon watching some football and getting their minds off things a little bit."