New York Giants Tommy DeVito, Frank Gifford Leap From Sports Pages Into Pop Culture

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New York Giants Tommy DeVito, Frank Gifford Leap From Sports Pages Into Pop Culture
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New York Giants quarterback Tommy “Cutlets” DeVito’s recent on-field success generated a buzz in the nation’s largest media market that shot across the country. 

In a season where the Travis Kelce-Taylor Swift romance transcended the NFL by sparking a popular culture frenzy — to the interest of some fans but the annoyance of others — DeVito also leaped off the sports pages into the entertainment section.

DeVito's New Jersey roots and fedora-wearing agent, a fellow Italian-American, had some fans recalling characters from classic movies and television shows, including HBO’s “The Sopranos” about a fictional Jersey Mob crew.

Gifford Takes Center Stage In ‘A Fan’s Notes’

DeVito is not the first New York Giants fan favorite to cross over into popular culture beyond the NFL.

Another was legendary halfback and flanker Frank Gifford, a star during the 1950s into the ‘60s. A former NFL's Most Valuable Player, Gifford later was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

In 1968, he entered popular culture with the publication of Frederick Exley’s autobiographical novel “A Fan’s Notes.”

The book delves into Exley’s obsession with the Giants and admiration for Gifford.

In the novel, called a “fictional memoir,” Gifford’s football heroics stand in contrast to the troubled lead character’s struggles with alcoholism and mental instability. According to Newsday, Exley’s breakout book was “the best novel written in the English language since ‘The Great Gatsby.’”

Early in the novel, the main character, known by the author’s real name and nicknames (“Ex,” “Freddy”) says he faced “myriad defeats” over the years but discovered that his support of the Giants was “a life-giving” force.

“I gave myself up to the Giants utterly,” he says.

After the book came out and won literary acclaim, Exley and Gifford met a few times, including once when Exley was writing a piece for Esquire magazine.

According to what Gifford told Exley, the book would “probably outlast us both.”

After stepping away from the field for good, Gifford became a TV football broadcaster, later being snared in a supermarket tabloid sex scandal. He died in 2015 at age 84.

As for Exley, “A Fan’s Notes” was turned into a limited-release movie that Exley panned, saying it did not resemble any of his work. A heavy smoker and drinker, he died in 1992. He was 63.

DeVito Appears At Pizzeria For Free After Fee Dispute

DeVito’s legacy is still being written, beginning with his nickname, Tommy Cutlets.

The nickname came from DeVito's family life. As a pro, he still lives at his parents’ home and has spoken fondly of his mom’s chicken cutlets. 

The food-linked nickname even connects to popular culture, including the character Johnny Roastbeef from the Martin Scorsese-directed Mob movie “Goodfellas.” In real life, the Lucchese crime family, one of New York City’s Mafia Five Families, had a Paulie Roast Beef.

After other quarterbacks were injured, DeVito began attracting national attention while leading the Giants on a three-game winning streak. The streak ended on Sunday with a 24-6 loss to the New Orleans Saints, but DeVito continues to be sought for public appearances and endorsements.

This week he showed up for free at a New Jersey pizzeria following a reported dispute over his appearance fee. That move earned him praise on social media and in news stories.

Also this week, Daniel Mancini of Mama Mancini’s food company posted a promotional picture on Facebook of himself and DeVito seated at a table, both giving the bunched fingertip hand gesture DeVito has popularized in recent weeks.

Betting Odds

With only three games left in the 2023 schedule, it is unclear what DeVito’s status will be when starter Daniel Jones, out for the season with a torn ACL, returns. 

On the Giants depth chart, DeVito is listed as the starter for the road game against the Philadelphia Eagles on Christmas Day. He is listed ahead of Tyrod Taylor, who has been sidelined with a rib injury but saw limited action against the Saints.

For those seeking NFL betting options during the holiday weekend, the Eagles are favored at BetMGM Sportsbook by 10.5 points.    

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Larry Henry

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