EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - Four esteemed former members of the Giants organization will enter the franchise's Ring of Honor Sunday night during a halftime ceremony when the Giants face the San Francisco 49ers in MetLife Stadium.
The group includes a pair of two-time Super Bowl winners who recently retired, Chris Snee and Osi Umenyiora, and two men who were born early in the 20th century, John Johnson, and Jack Lummus.
Each of the four men will have a panel displaying his name in the stadium for every Giants home game. They will increase to 39 the number of honorees in the ring.
Giants fans who can't attend the game can watch the Ring of Honor ceremony live on Giants.com and on the Giants mobile app.
Photos of team owners, coaches, and players inducted into the New York Giants Ring of Honor.
The Ring of Honor was instituted by the Giants when they moved into MetLife Stadium in 2010 to recognize and pay tribute to the most important figures in the history of the franchise. Those included in the Ring of Honor were selected by the Giants organization based on their contributions to the success and history of the franchise, whether they were players on the field, coaches on the sideline, executives in the front office or owners. Each member of the Ring of Honor played a unique and indelible role in helping make the Giants franchise one of the most successful in NFL history, winning eight championships and more than 650 games.
The inaugural 30-member class included 16 Pro Football Hall of Famers: franchise founder Tim Mara; his son, Wellington Mara; coaches Steve Owen and Bill Parcells; and 12 players: Mel Hein, Ken Strong, Tuffy Leemans, Emlen Tunnell, Frank Gifford, Rosie Brown, Sam Huff, Andy Robustelli, Y.A. Tittle, Harry Carson, Lawrence Taylor and Michael Strahan (who was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2014). The other members of that initial group were owners Jack Mara and Bob Tisch; general manager George Young; coach Jim Lee Howell; and players Al Blozis, Charlie Conerly, Dick Lynch, Joe Morrison, Pete Gogolak, George Martin, Phil Simms, Jessie Armstead, Amani Toomer and Tiki Barber.
The following year, five more players spanning several eras in Giants history were added to the Ring of Honor: running back Alex Webster, linebackers Brad Van Pelt and Carl Banks, tight end Mark Bavaro and punter Dave Jennings.
Here is a closer look at the four newest members of the Giants' Ring of Honor.
Pictures of Chris Snee through the years
Snee joined the Giants as a second-round draft choice in 2004 from Boston College. That preseason, he became the starter at right guard and stayed in that position for 10 years (except in the rare instances when he was sidelined by health issues). Snee started all started all 141 regular-season games and 11 postseason games in which he played. From 2005-11, he started 101 consecutive regular-season games (plus seven postseason games) before missing a game with a concussion. Snee missed only 19 games in his 10 seasons, including 13 in 2013, his final season.
"Chris was a great Giant, on and off the field," said team chairman Steve Tisch. "And that is the highest compliment we can pay somebody around here."
"I took pride in being out there every game," Snee said. "You only get so many opportunities to play games, so I am thankful. There were games where I probably was 70 percent, less than that, but I thought I owed it to the organization and to my teammates, coaches and the fans just to be out there. I'm getting paid to play that day, so I'm going to play."
Snee announced his retirement on the day the Giants opened training camp in 2014. He had hoped to play another season, but health issues, primarily a balky elbow and surgically-repaired hips, limited him to three games in his final season and forced him out of uniform. The day Snee said he would no longer play, team president John Mara let the world know Snee would soon enjoy this honor.
"I think Chris was everything you could ever hope for in a player: toughness, integrity, and a lot of pride," Giants president and chief executive officer John Mara said. "Winning mattered to him. I think he set a great example for all of the other players. He's somebody we're going to miss very much. He was one of the greatest offensive linemen in Giants history, and he'll be on that Ring of Honor someday."
That day is here. And though Snee knew it was coming, he was still unprepared for the official announcement.
"Honestly, it caught me a little off guard," Snee said. "I know Mr. Mara said that when I retired I would be going in, in the near future, but it still was something that kind of overwhelmed me when he told me. I think in large part because I feel somedays I wake up and I should be going to practice. I'm not that far removed from the game. But to be going up there with the names that are up there, it's overwhelming. I've been a little restless at night, because honestly I'm excited and kind of shocked that it's all happening."
Snee joins Hein, Brown, and Blozis as the only offensive linemen in the Ring of Honor.
"To me, he was the best guard in all of football," coach Tom Coughlin said. "No doubt. No matter who you put him against, all of the great defensive tackles in the game, the 350 (pound) guys, the 340 guys, he blocked them. When he first came here, he was so, so committed and so driven to excel at the professional level as he had excelled at the collegiate level."
The Coughlin-Snee relationship is much than simply a coach/player partnership. Coughlin is Snee's son-in-law. Snee is the father to three of Coughlin's 11 grandchildren, with one more due in February.
"He has done everything that you want in a man and in a football player," Coughlin said. "You may say you're not very objective about this. I'm not pleading my case for objectivity. I'm just telling you the quality of the man is greater than the quality and the ability of the football player, and that's as good as it gets."
Having your father-in-law double as your NFL head coach can be an awkward experience, particularly in the locker room, but Snee said he would change nothing about his time with Coughlin.
"I enjoyed every bit of it, from the time I came in," Snee said. "We never spoke about it, but that's always just been the way it was. It was work here, but off the field we'd relax and hang out, have a drink together. When I got here I was 22, just becoming the man I am now, just seeing the way he runs his family. I took a lot of note of that. I try to parent my kids the same way, firm but loving. He's a great coach, but a better man, and that's something that was evident to me right away."
Snee is also thrilled to join the Ring of Honor with Umenyiora. They are the first members of the Ring who played in both Super Bowls XLII and XLVI.
"It is special, because I think it was a great era," Snee said. "The more I get to be around Giants fans and the appreciation for that decade when we were around, the success we had, it was really an exciting time to be a Giant fan. They'll be many more. Obviously, we played with a lot of great players. Eli (Manning) and (Justin) Tuck are still playing, and there will be others I'm sure that will get up there. To be the first two from quite an accomplished decade is special."
Photos of Osi Umenyiora through the years
Umenyiora's career closely paralleled Snee's. He was also a second-round draft choice (from Troy University), one year earlier than his offensive counterpart (2003). Umenyiora also played 10 seasons for the Giants, departing after the 2012 season.
But Umenyiora didn't depart the Giants for retirement. He played for the Atlanta Falcons in 2013-14. The Giants, however, remained No. 1 in his heart. On Aug. 26, Umenyiora visited the Quest Diagnostics Training Center to officially retire as a Giant.
"I finished my contract over there, and in my head I wanted to retire as a New York Giant," Umenyiora said. "I wanted to play here, because I'd already done something else. Once I saw that that opportunity wasn't really feasible, it just made sense for me to retire. I played the majority of my career here so for me it just made sense to be able to come back here to where I consider home and retire as a Giant."
Now Umenyiora's name will hang with the other Giants immortals in MetLife Stadium. He is the fourth defensive end in the Ring of Honor, joining Hall of Famers Robustelli and Strahan, as well as George Martin.
"Osi was certainly one of the premier defensive ends in the game and a key part of our two Super Bowl teams," Mara said. "But he was much more than that. Osi had so much pride and always gave 100 percent. He represented himself and our team on and off the field like a true professional and was a great example to his teammates."
"Osi is and has always been a great Giant," Tisch said. "I will remember him as much for his great smile and engaging personality as I will for his ability to rush the passer. His love for the game is obvious to anyone who watched him perform."
Umenyiora had 75.0 of his 85.0 career sacks with the Giants, which places him fourth on the franchise's official list. Strahan (141.5), Taylor (132.5) and Leonard Marshall (79.5) are the only players with more sacks in a Giants uniform since 1982, when sacks became an official statistic.
In 10 postseason games, Umenyiora had 5.5 sacks, tying him with Justin Tuck for fourth on that franchise list.
"Osi was an explosive, smart, crafty edge rusher who was a scary matchup for any offensive tackle in this league in his prime," general manager Jerry Reese said. "He had all the moves and played the game right, and he was a great student of the game."
Umenyiora was the only member of the 2007 world champions to play in the Pro Bowl. That season, the Giants had an NFL-high 53 sacks, thanks largely to their three outstanding defensive ends. Umenyiora led the way with 13.0. Justin Tuck, another two-time Pro Bowler, had 10.0, and Strahan had 9.0 in his final season.
Umenyiora's 75.0 sacks during his 10 seasons with the Giants put him in a tie for ninth in the NFL during that span. His 85.0 sacks during his 12-year career were tied for 11th in the league in those dozen seasons. But Umenyiora actually played just nine seasons for the Giants and 11 in the NFL, because he did not play a game in 2008 after undergoing knee surgery.
On Sept. 23, 2007, Umenyiora set the Giants' single-game franchise record with 6.0 sacks of Philadelphia's Donovan McNabb in MetLife Stadium. The old mark was 4.5 sacks by linebacker Pepper Johnson at Tampa Bay on Nov. 24, 1991.
From 2004-10, Umenyiora was the Giants' sole or shared leader in sacks in all six seasons in which he played (not including 2008). He was the team sack leader in four consecutive seasons with 7.0 in 2004, a career-high 14.5 in 2005, 6.0 in 2006 and 13.0 in 2007, and again with 7.0 in 2009. He tied Tuck for the team lead in 2010 with 11.5. Umenyiora was the first Giants player to top the team in sacks four years in a row since Taylor led the team in five consecutive seasons from 1986-90. Strahan was No. 1 in sacks each season from 1995-98, but shared the 1996 lead with Chad Bratzke.
But Umenyiora did more than just tackle quarterbacks behind the line of scrimmage. He often separated them from the ball, a play popularly referred to now as the strip sack. The Elias Sports Bureau, official statistician for the NFL, does not officially recognize forced fumbles. But Elias does track them by reviewing the play-by-play of every NFL game. Unofficially, Elias has Umenyiora with 32 forced fumbles as a member of the Giants (tied for fifth in the NFL from 2002-13) and 35 in his career (also tied for fifth from 2003-14).
Pictures of John Johnson through the years
Millions of Giants fans have never heard of John Johnson, but he was an extraordinarily popular figure during a career that was almost unparalleled in the history of the franchise.
Johnson joined the team as an athletic trainer in 1948. He retired at age 90 following the 2007 season and Super Bowl XLII, ending a remarkable 60-year career with the franchise. Only Wellington Mara, whose tenure with the organization began in its first season in 1925 and extended to his death in 2005, had a longer career. Johnson was on the Giants' sideline for 874 regular-season and 34 postseason games, and he attended thousands of practices.
Johnson worked with 12 head coaches, from Steve Owen to Tom Coughlin, and helped keep the Giants running through those 928 games. When he started in '48, the Giants had a quarterback from Ole Miss in Charlie Conerly. Fifty-nine years later, Johnson went out a champion thanks to a touchdown pass thrown by Eli Manning, another quarterback from Ole Miss. Johnson has a football signed by both of them.
Johnson, still going strong at age 98, joins the most hallowed names in the team's Ring of Honor, including Mara and many more of his friends, like Frank Gifford, Emlen Tunnell, Rosie Brown, Phil Simms and Michael Strahan.
"They were the greatest," Johnson said. "I don't know what I'm doing up there. Here we were, with a great Hall of Fame all around me. Good coaches, great players. You go back 60 years, that's a long time."
Generations of players and Giants staff members revered Johnson for his wisdom, his friendship, and his unique ability to perfectly tape an ankle.
"John Johnson had a stellar career with the Giants, spanning 60 years," said Ronnie Barnes, who began his Giants career in 1976, became head trainer four years later and is now the senior vice president of medical services. "He traveled with the team and was an indispensable member of the medical staff. He had so many stories about the early NFL and medicine before the arthroscope and advanced diagnostic technology.
"Leaving a legacy is something that we all strive to do, and John Johnson achieved that and more. He was a licensed massage therapist and physical therapist with tremendous hands. Michael Strahan sought him out and made John his personal athletic trainer. He cared for him with the same compassion that he had for Y.A. Tittle, Frank Gifford and Charlie Conerly."
"He has a great personality," Snee said. "I didn't open up to anyone for a long time. He was one of the first to get me to crack a smile. Especially in 2004, I was a rookie, and obviously having a coach who was my father-in law, he was a pain in the (butt) at the time. He was very tough, and I didn't quite feel like smiling when I went to work. John would get me to lighten up. What I also remember, he had probably the strongest hands. Even after he retired, he would come in. Whenever he would come in, if a guy needed his neck worked on, it would be John Johnson who did it. He would work on it. He had some vice grips for hands and would always get the knots out if needed. I definitely enjoyed the four years I was around him."
Always a diplomat, Johnson is reluctant to single out players and coaches as particular favorites – until he's gently prodded. He was with a dozen head coaches. Which one did he most enjoy working with?
"You can't do that," Johnson said. "That's pretty tough to do that. Parcells, I liked Parcells. I liked all the guys. You mention them, and I have to say something, but they were all great guys as far as I was concerned. I never had any trouble with them. They might have trouble with themselves, but I never had any trouble with them, no. And then, of course, we had a lot of assistant coaches in there as well, like Tunnell and all those guys. They were great ballplayers.
"People say to me, 'Who is the greatest team? Who is the greatest ball player?' I don't think you can say that over 60 years, because we had a lot of great ballplayers."
And a very popular athletic trainer who administered to all of them.
Photos of Jack Lummus through the years
Jack Lummus' entire Giants career consisted of nine games in 1941. He was a 6-3, 200-pound two-way end who that season caught one pass for five yards for a Giants team that finished 8-3 before losing to the Bears in the NFL Championship Game on Dec. 21, two weeks after the attack on Pearl Harbor.
On Jan. 30, 1942, with the United States fully engaged in World War II, Lummus gave up his football career to enlist in the Marine Corps Reserves. He was sent to the Mainside Recruit Training Center in San Diego for basic training. It was there, on March 16, 1942, that he wrote a letter to Jack Mara, the son of Giants founder Tim Mara and brother of Wellington Mara, informing the Giants he had joined the Marines.
The letter, in its entirety:
I received your letter of March 11 with the Play-off check enclosed. Thank you.
I joined the Marines about 7 weeks ago, and have just now completed my preliminary training here in San Diego. I'm due to be transferred sometime this week – destination unknown.
Jack, I would like to take this opportunity to tell you how much I enjoyed playing with the Giants and to thank Duke (Wellington), Mr. Mara and Coach Owen for everything. I'll never forget my rookie year with the Giants.
Best of luck this coming Season.
Three years later – on March 8, 1945 – Lummus was mortally wounded on Iwo Jima when he stepped on a land mine and lost his legs. On Sunday, he will join Blozis as Giants players who gave their lives in World War II and are forever memorialized by the organization in the Ring of Honor. Blozis was killed in January 1945. The Giants retired his No. 32 jersey that year.
Lummus' remains were buried in Ennis Texas, two years later. The Giants erected a bronze tablet in Lummus' honor in the Polo Grounds. On Dec. 30, 1945, Lummus' mother wrote Jack Mara and said, in part, "We are so proud that he played with your Club for a season as this had been his desire for so long. Thank you again for your kindness to us and to my son." It was signed, Very Truly Yours, Mrs. Jack Lummus.
On May 5, 1946, President Harry S. Truman signed a citation posthumously awarding the Medal of Honor to 1st Lt. Jack Lummus.
Today, 70 years after his death, Lummus' legacy endures. His name will forever be displayed for fans to see at every Giants home game with the other members of the Ring of Honor.
He is the namesake of the USNS 1ST LT Jack Lummus, a Maritime Prepositioning Ship. Prepositioning ships have supported Marines, Army and Navy operations for many years, and the majority of them are named in honor of servicemen who died while earning the Medal of Honor.
Finally, Lummus has family members who help his legacy endure.
Jack Lummus had two sisters, Thelma Wright and Sue Merritt (both deceased). Thelma Wright had a daughter, JackLyn Wright (named for Jack and Ethlyn Bookwalter, Jack's fiancé, whom he would have married had he survived the war) and son Pete Wright (deceased).
Sue Merritt had a son, John T. Merritt and daughter, Miranda Millsap.
The Giants are thrilled that Jacklyn, John and Miranda will attend the ceremony on Sunday, and accept the honor on behalf of the Lummus family.
Photos of team owners, coaches, and players inducted into the New York Giants Ring of Honor.