Jay Fund Champions for Children Gala drew former and current NFL players and raised more than $1 million for pediatric cancer patients.
The Jay Fund held its 12th annual Champions for Children Gala in mid-October in New York City. Founded by former New York Giants coach Tom Coughlin, the Jay Fund supports pediatric cancer patients. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and several former and current NFL players attended the gala this year, which drew close to 700 people and raised more than $1 million.
Coughlin, who was first to arrive, talked with the press and took photos with attendees throughout the night. When asked what he does on game day, this being his first season away from coaching, he laughed. “I go into the league office, and I go in the command room because it’s a busy place and it’s the closest thing to being on the sideline,” he said.
Bob Papa, a Giants broadcaster, also attended and gave advice to aspiring broadcasters. “People are going to tell you, No, you can’t do it,” he said. “They’re going to say that it’s too competitive, that they don’t like your sound, they don’t like your look. Just keep going at it; never stop. If you have it in your heart, you’re going to make it happen.”
He went on to tell a story about his career. “At my first job, when I got out of college, at WFAN, I interviewed for the job and the guy who was hiring said that [I had] no future on radio or TV. I walked out of the meeting and I said, I’m going to spend the rest of my career proving that guy wrong.” Papa did and is now known around the football world as the voice of the New York Giants.
Giants linebacker Mark Herzlich had some advice for young football players. “It is something that should be a part of your life but not encompass your life,” said Herzlich. “Stay busy. Do a lot of different sports — and football should definitely be one of them because it is amazing. But I think when you’re starting with any sport, sports should never occupy your entire life.”
Justin Pugh, a Giants offensive lineman, talked about his game-day routine. “I have the same routine for every game. I come in and get in the hot tub and the cold tub, get my cleats on, go out and warm up, [and I] always have music on. I come in, I get my back cracked, do a little stretching, get taped, and then I'm ready to go. Always put on the eye black too — got a little war paint.”
Giants legend Mark Bavaro also shared his game-day routine. He said he studied the playbook to “make sure you knew what was going on so that you could go out on the field and play the hardest you could play.”
He also explained that football is not only a physical game. “When you're not prepared mentally, you can't play the best you can play physically,” Bavaro said. And when asked about what he missed most about the game, he got right to the point: “Getting paid,” he said with a laugh.
Finally, Hall of Famer Harry Carson had a little trash talk for the linebackers of today’s game. “Well, they don't make them the way they used too, so I have to say that when I played we were much better than the guys who are playing now,” he said, laughing. He is known as one of the greatest Giants players of all time; fans still wear his jersey. Said Carson, “I feel quite honored that they would still remember me.”
Photographs courtesy of the Tom Coughlin Jay Fund (2)