In the heart-stopping moments while the ball hung in the air before Deon Grant and a bevy of New York Giants knocked it down in the end zone to win the Super Bowl, our local hero’s mother wasn’t among the millions holding their collective breath.
“I have to tell you the truth, because I know nothing but the truth, but I didn’t watch it at the end,” Joyce Wright said of the climactic desperation pass that her son helped break up.
Wright suffers from the same thing many parents deal with: anxiety about her children.
Consequently, some years ago she got in the habit of leaving her stadium seat or spot in front of the television to find the most private place she could to sit down and pray.
“I never watch at the end,” she acknowledged Monday from her Evans home, where she caught most of the game. “Even when I go to the games, I leave the game at the end and go and pray. I’ve been doing that ever since he’s been playing ball.”
That private retreat is usually the bathroom, where she spent much of the second half of Super Bowl XLVI as the tension mounted.
Goddaughter Tiva Abreu gave her updates and tried to coax her out to watch the final, nail-biting 17 seconds as the Giants defense tried to stop New England’s Tom Brady from capping another championship rally.
Wright just prayed a little harder.
“I just stayed in that spot and prayed the entire time until it was over,” she said.
Abreu told her that as soon as she started praying, the Patriots receivers started dropping passes.
Modern technology has been a blessing for Wright. After the outcome was safely decided and the Giants were rubbing and kissing the Lombardi Trophy, Wright backed up her DVR to see the parts she’d missed.
“I went back to see how they got to 21 points and the part where (Grant) put his hand on the ball at the end,” she said.
Grant, a former Josey High School star, understands that his mother isn’t always watching when the game is too close at the end, but she often pretends she never took her eyes off her only son.
“Sometimes I have to tell him a little white lie: ‘I saw you when you made that play, babe!’” she said with a laugh. “Somebody will come up and tell me, ‘Did you see what Deon did?’ I’ll say no, but hurry up and tell me because I need to know when he asks me.”
Grant calls his mother after every game. regardless of the outcome. He called after all the interviews were over Sunday night, celebrating in the company of his sisters Brittney Wright and Felicia Grant and his 11-year-old daughter, Deyon. Grant’s aunt and uncle, Gloria and Ricky Mays, also attended the game in Indianapolis.
“He called to let me know that everything was good,” his mother said. “He was very excited. He’s going to be a player until he can’t play anymore, but he wanted to have that ring. It was something that was in his heart.”
Wright said Grant had a feeling this Super Bowl victory was coming when he re-signed with the Giants before the season.
“He spoke it,” she said. “He said, ‘I feel like this is my year.’ That’s why he was ready to go back to New York. He just felt it.
“The truth be told – and
I don’t say it just because he’s my child – but the blessing is just on him. There’s just been a great blessing
on his life. I told him as
long as you remain humble and stay in the will of God, he’s going to continue to do the things that you desire. He says, ‘Delight yourself unto him that he will give you the desires of your heart.’ ”
Grant has now been a key part of winning a state championship (Josey, 1995), national collegiate championship (Tennessee, 1998) and world championship,
so his desires in football have certainly been realized.
Prayer was a big theme for Super Bowl XLVI. Brady’s wife, Gisele Bundchen, got a lot of publicity for her prayer circle request on behalf of her husband’s team, and when those prayers weren’t answered, she had less forgiving things to say about the Patriots receivers.
Grant provided a spiritual spark for Giants teammate Mario Manningham, who ended up with the biggest play of the game: a spectacular catch along the sideline near midfield to trigger New York’s game-winning drive.
“He was down because he had got one catch the first half and he was telling me, ‘D, say a prayer for me because I need to get involved in this game to help our team out,’” Grant told the New York Post. “I said, ‘What God has for you is meant for you.’ I said, ‘You just make sure you prepare when that ball comes to you. Because it’s going to come to you the second half.’”
In the end, it came down to Grant and the Giants defense to prevent the Patriots from rallying in the final 57 seconds.
When Brady heaved the 51-yard pass into the end zone, Grant and defensive mates Kenny Phillips and Jacquian Williams went up around Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez and swatted the ball down.
After 12 years in the NFL and 187 consecutive starts, Grant doesn’t have anything else to prove in football.
His mother believes
that if there’s a team that needs him, though, he’ll continue rather than retire on top.
“As long as he has an able body, he’ll continue to play,” she said.