February 05, 2012


It’s Super Bowl XLVI (46) today, and The New York Giants will be playing the New England Patriots, this evening, in Indianapolis, Indiana.  This is a huge rematch (more like a grudge match!) because four years ago, in 2008, The Giants beat The Patriots 17-14; and apparently, they were not expected to win. 

Patriots Helmet, Super Bowl Trophy, Giants Helmet

Since I grew up in New England and spent several years living in New York, I’m taking the coward’s way out and remaining agnostic about the final score. However, I am going to highlight someone from The Giants because I think he deserves to be honored for his achievements.

Jerry Reese, of The New York Giants, is the first Black General Manager to take two teams to the Super Bowl (The Giants in 2008, during his first season in the job; and today). At 49, he is also one of the youngest General Managers. Amazingly, despite these bragging rights, he has twice faced demands, by fans, that he be fired – primarily due to some key game losses and a methodical, rather than flashy, style of play by the team. For those of you who do not follow American Football, in the National Football League (NFL), the General Manager (GM) of a team typically controls player transactions and bears the primary responsibility, on behalf of the team, during contract discussions with players. The GM is also normally the person who hires and fires the coaching staff, including the Head Coach. In other words, Jerry Reese is the ‘Big Kahuna’.

Jerry is a native of Tiptonville, Tennessee, a small town, with an approximate population of 2,500 people. There, he played for the Lake County Falcons' 1980 State Champion 1-A high school football team. Subsequently, he matriculated to the University of Tennessee at Martin, where he played on the football team and later became an Assistant Coach before taking a job as a scout for the New York Giants. From 2002 until becoming General Manager, he was the Director of Pro Personnel for The Giants.

Jerry’s achievement comes eleven years after the Baltimore Ravens', Ozzie Newsome, became the first African-American executive to bring a team to the The Super Bowl, and the first to win.
Ozzie Newsome

Jerry's position is a big deal, and he absolutely accepts the responsibility as an African-American role model, saying of it, “I want to set the mark high [for the] African-American kids coming behind me, so they can see, 'Wow, Jerry's doing it.' " "And the people before me, who yearned to be in this spot—I'm not going to let those people down who really suffered and had to take some incredible abuse with respect to African-Americans advancing in any field, not just pro sports. I said, when they hired me, at the [press conference], I thought it was my time to carry the torch; and I don't take that lightly.'' 

However, he did joke at a press conference earlier this week, when asked about his Two Super Bowls achievement, "As for being the first [African-American] to do [this], I really don't pay much attention to that. That's the kind of thing you pay attention to when you retire and you're out in a little boat fishing.''
Despite the fans and media not always being behind Jerry, he has always had the support and respect of the team’s owners, his family, his coaching staff and his players.  He has patiently seen his work vindicated in the wake of criticism, and the proof is on the playing field.

Jerry Holding the Winning XLII Super Bowl Trophy

At a typical Super Bowl party, people tend to serve burgers, sandwiches, chicken wings, pizza, nachos, savory snacks, dips, brownies, and lots of beer and soda. I have noticed that many of my friends will also be serving chili. For a little twist on a traditional, 'red' chili, try this Tennessee White Chili from Jerry’s Home State

If you’re watching the game tonight, I hope your team wins.
Tennessee White Chili
By The Lodge Company, from The Lodge Cast Iron Cookbook

Serves 6

  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 cup onion, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 pounds cooked chicken breast, cut into small cubes
  • 3 15-ounce cans Great Northern or cannellini beans
  • 2 tablespoons cilantro/coriander, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • chicken broth, to desired consistency
  • shredded monterey jack cheese, to garnish


1.      Heat the oil in a 5-quart cast iron Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender.
2.      Stir in the chicken, beans, cilantro, cumin, salt, and cayenne and simmer 30 minutes. If you like, you can add chicken broth as you prefer.
3.      Ladle the chili into bowls and garnish each serving with cheese, sour cream and crushed tortilla chips, if desired.

Sources: AOL Sporting News, Wikipedia, Google, Bing, Food Republic

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