Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Connecticut town splits its loyalties

Vinny Smith knows all about divided loyalties. Smith is a Giants fan. Wife Maria roots for the Patriots.

The two spend a lot of time at Roma's Sports Bar in New Bri­tain, Conn., a town of about 70,000 two hours southwest of the Patriots' Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass., and two hours northeast of the Giants' MetLife Stadium in East Ruther­ford, N.J.

On the wall, bar owner Khalid Tawfik hangs flags of both teams. And he plans to divide the place in half on Feb. 5.

"We will have a police officer here," he said, "in case somebody has a little too much to drink and gets out of hand."

But he expects only good-natured ribbing, like when the teams met in the Super Bowl four years ago.

The town of New Britain has links to both teams.

The Giants played one of their earliest games there in 1925, beating a local pro team 26-0. And they spent 1973 and 1974 at the Yale Bowl, about 30 minutes away, while Yankee Stadium was being renovated and Giants Stadium was being built.

Meanwhile, Tebucky Jones, a defensive back on the Patriots' first title team, coaches his alma mater, New Britain High.

"I don't understand people rooting for New York," he said. "We live in New England, right?"

One resident, Cedric Monroe, said he and other lifelong Giants fans considered rooting for the Patriots in 1998, when owner Bob Kraft agreed to move the team to Hartford. But Kraft backed out of the deal.

"I think there is still a lot of like for the Patriots as a team," Mayor Tim O'Brien, a Giants fan, said. "However, if the dear owner of the Patriots team showed up in New Britain, I wouldn't be surprised if he ended up with a few traffic violation tickets."

Gronkowski update: Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski was listed as questionable on Friday after missing practice for the second straight day because of an injured left ankle. Also for the second straight day, Gronkowski was not available for comment.

WIVB-TV in Buffalo reported his father, Gordy, said it is a high ankle sprain but his son expects to play.

The Patriots have not disclosed the extent of the injury, and coach Bill Belichick rarely provides details on injuries.

"He must not have read the sign on the door (near the locker room)," New England WR Matthew Slater said, joking, of Gordy Gronkowski.

"We're not supposed to disclose that kind of stuff."

And Belichick's reaction?

"Oh, I don't know," Slater said. "I would imagine he wouldn't be too excited about that."

Gronkowski was the only Patriot to miss practice.

Giants injuries: WR Hakeem Nicks and CB Corey Webster missed practice for the second straight day but expect to return next week. Nicks aggravated a shoulder injury Sunday against the 49ers by falling on it. Webster has dealt with a hamstring injury for several weeks but has not missed a game.

College buddies: Giants WR Victor Cruz had a breakout season, including setting a franchise record with 1,536 receiving yards. But waiting for him in the Super Bowl will be Pat­riots S James Ihedigbo.

Not only did both go to Division I-AA Massachusetts, Ihedigbo served as Cruz's recruiting host when he visited the campus 4½ years ago.

"It was a tremendous ride," Cruz said of their time with the Minutemen. "We understand how much of a small school it is and how little guys get an opportunity to come out of that school."

Ihedigbo appeared in every game this season and started 14, including both playoff games.

"I've seen (Cruz) do it before back in the old days in college," Ihedigbo. "He's really a terrific player."

Connecticut town splits its loyalties 01/27/12 [Last modified: Friday, January 27, 2012 9:57pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Former Buc Mike Glennon says right things about Bears QB situation

    Bucs

    Mike Glennon's go-to line about being recognized around town since becoming a Bear worked as well as ever, producing laughs.

    Quarterback Mike Glennon, shown last season with the Bucs before signing in the offseason with the Bears, is showing good humor about a looming competition in Chicago. [WILL VRAGOVIC   |   Times]
  2. Tampa Bay Super Bowls: A brief history and some predictions for 2021

    Bucs

    At last, Tampa will host a Super Bowl again. It used to be that the Cigar City would host one a decade, but by the time February 2021 rolls around, it will have been 12 years since the epic showdown between the Steelers and Cardinals. Because it has been awhile, let's revisit those past Super Bowls while also peering …

    Santonio Holmes hauls in the game-winning touchdown in the Steelers' 27-23 Super Bowl XLIII victory over the Cardinals in 2009, the last time Tampa hosted a Super Bowl. [JAMES BORCHUCK | Times]
  3. Rays bats go silent in second straight loss to Angels (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Sure, Alex Cobb was to blame for the Rays' 4-0 loss on Tuesday.

    Derek Norris strikes out with the bases loaded as the Rays blow a golden opportunity in the seventh inning.
  4. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Tuesday's Rays-Angels game

    The Heater

    RHP Alex Cobb made mistakes on back-to-back pitches to the first two Angels hitters Tuesday, allowing homers to Cameron Maybin and Mike Trout, but otherwise gave the Rays another solid outing, working into the eighth and scattering seven hits.

  5. Rays journal: Brad Miller won't return from DL when eligible

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — 2B Brad Miller (left abdominal strain) will not return from the 10-day disabled list Friday as he hoped. While he took ground balls Tuesday, he has yet to resume running.

    Rays second baseman Brad Miller, left, with infielder Tim Beckham, says he’s letting his left abdominal strain “cool down” before testing it by running.