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August 20, 2012

 

Ex-Giants, Bills swing for good Groton cause

CauseTom Vartanian/contributing photographer
Former New York Giants linebacker and NFL Hall of Famer Harry Carson drives a pitch during Sunday’s benefit softball game at Ross Field in Groton that also featured past players from the Buffalo Bills. The game raised money for the Groton Central School District.

BY TOM VARTANIAN
Staff Writer

GROTON — The Buffalo Bills and New York Giants have met 10 times on the football field, but a handful of members from each team’s history met Sunday for a local cause Sunday at Ross Field in Groton.The former NFLers were in Groton to play a benefit softball game to help raise money for the extracurricular programs in the school district.
Former linebacker David White (1995-96) came to Groton in 1996 as an active player and returned with former Buffalo players Ken Jones (a defensive lineman from 1976-86, Ed Rutkowski (a quarterback and wide receiver from 1963-68, Jeff Nixon (a safety from 1979-84) and Albe Miller.
The Giants were led by Hall of Fame linebacker Harry Carson, defensive end Eric Dorsey (1986-92), defensive end Gary Jeter (1977-82) and running back Billy Taylor (1978-81).
Joining the Bills were Groton softball players Ali Quarella, Steffanie Preston, Tiffany James, Emily Frantz and Ruthanne Forehand. The Giants received support from Ashley Parr, Chrissy Reagan, Jenna Federation, Tessa Federation, Courtney Ward and Jessie Churchill off the Indians’ roster.
“It’s definitely a pleasure,” said White. “I had the opportunity to play in a similar deal back in 1996. I was a player then and in a little better shape. It’s is a wonderful opportunity to help kids. I am currently an administrator at the SUNY Fredonia campus as the direction of the EOP (Educational Opportunities Program). It is nice to be able to contribute to the programs in the (school) district here.”
“It’s been a while since we’ve done this,” Jones added. “We have been to a lot of small towns like this. We like raising money as much as we can. It’s great to come out and play the Giants.
“We’ll try to play some softball,” he continued with a chuckle. “But we’ll probably end up in the hospital. It is for a good cause though.”
The Giants players agreed.
“It’s nice to get out and see some fans we may never see,” Jeter said. “It’s fun to come to Groton to play some softball, which is a game many people may think that we can’t play. I’m looking forward to it. We’re here to have fun. You may not see maximum effort on the field, but it’s great fun just doing this, meeting fans, signing autographs, taking pictures and shaking hands.”
“I think education is important for every young person,” Carson said. “It’s key to their health and development. It’s key to being successful in life. It’s nice to have an impact on their young lives. I’m all in favor of things like this.”
For Carson, it was a chance to talk about being a Hall of Famer, too.
“It is a nice honor,” Carson replied. “If I can use it to make an impact, then that’s even better.
“In my (induction) speech I did challenge the NFL and the Players’ Association to take up the job of taking care of players who have played the game. That was a key to the new agreement that was signed last year. There was more attention to retired players. Being a Hall of Fame player was not necessarily something I laid down and dreamed of, but it is a way to help to address some issues.”
Each player expressed an opinion on their team’s 2012 season.
“We’re always optimistic at the beginning of the season,” White said of his Bills. “After two preseason games, there are a few concerns. The defense does look good, on paper. The fate of the Bills will be determined by the offense line and the quarterback. The defense does win championships, but the offense does need to score points to win games.”
“It’s nice to see the Bills go out and start to put a team together again,” Jones said. “Barring injuries, I think they will do well. I’m not sure they will make the playoffs, but they will be hanging around the whole time. They are going to surprise some people, because they have more depth this season.”
“Last year was a gift,” Jeter said of the Giants’ Super Bowl run. “I think we stole one. There were a lot of questions at the beginning of the season and down the stretch it was wide open. Green Bay didn’t want it, so the Giants took it. A tip of the hat because (Eli) Manning played great. All three phases (offense, defense, special teams) came together. We are ahead of the curve right now. There are a couple (championships) more out there for us.”
Carson gave a very analytical answer to the 2012 season.
“There are 31 other teams out there that think they can win it all right now,” Carson said. “At this time last year, no one thought the Giants could win it all and they did. The Giants have the ability to win it, but I don’t take preseason games seriously and I don’t think anyone else should. There are just exhibition games. The Giants are capable of winning it again, but so are the other 31 teams. That’s just my take.”
For event organizer Mark Perosio, who pitched for the Giants side, it was a smaller crowd turnout than expected. But it was still a special day.
“The guys are having a nice time,” Perosio said. “They are interacting with the small crowd. The weather cooperated and that was a good thing too.
“I appreciate the guys coming to help our cause,” he added. “I’m glad they are here. The girls are really having fun too. I look forward to doing this again.”
For the record, the Giants hold a 6-4 record in football meetings, but today it was all Bills. Aided by a lead-off home run by Ruthanne Forehand in the top of the first inning, the Bills rolled to a 30-15 victory to the delight of their supporters. Forehand and Jeff Nixon each had five hits. A former Perosio teammate in the local softball wars, Chris Mott, pitched for the Bills.
The Giants struggled offensively. Eric Dorsey did go 3-for-4 for Big Blue with Courtney Ward going 2-for-4 for the Groton girls on the Giants’ side.

 

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