The sun came out Friday, and more than 2,900 fans flocked to University Field at the University at Albany to see the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants begin training camp.
Day one is usually the one we try to make, but this year is a little more special, said Halfmoon resident Keith Reed. "It's got a spring training kind of feel to it."
"I come up here every year," said Jim Allegrino, who made the trip to Albany from Wilmington, N.C. "I used to live in Binghamton, but I moved to North Carolina five years ago. I still make it up here."
Many fans sat in the bleachers on the steps of University Gym, but others such as Colonie twin brothers Justin and Jared Berdar staked out a spot at the entrance to the field so they could get autographs from the players as they passed by to the locker room.
"I meet players all over the place," said the 16-year-old Justin, who added he's been to nearly every camp since the Giants started training at UAlbany in 1995. "The parking lot, the campus, the gas station " I met (running back Brandon) Jacobs there. He was cool with it. He took pictures with us, signed autographs and talked with us for a little bit."
"I'm hoping these guys aren't going to be too tired coming off the field to sign autographs," added Tommy Calabrese, who made the trip from Speonk on Long Island to attend his first Giants training camp.
The Giants were just as anxious as the fans to get on the field and start the process of defending their Super Bowl title.
"We are very excited about the start of camp " about continuing the momentum, if you will, from the playoff run; about integrating a lot of our rookie players and some of the veterans that we have brought into the program this offseason; about trying to work to see how exactly those individuals will fit into our program; and about continuing to emphasize team above self, which was such a critical, critical part of the success that we had last season," said Giants head coach Tom Coughlin at last Wednesday's pre-camp press conference.