Last week, Umbertos Pizzeria in New Hyde Park sent the New York Giants’ pizza of choice to Indianapolis as a good luck charm before the Super Bowl. A week after that charm did the trick, one of the football champs returned to the pizzeria, where Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano gifted him a ceremonial key.
Mangano honored defensive lineman Justin Tuck on Friday with the key to Nassau County, and the man who sacked Patriots quarterback Tom Brady twice—once in the final drive of the game—was also presented with a $10,000 check to his charity, “Tuck’s Rush for Literacy.”
“What he does for children is amazing,” said the pizzeria’s general manager Gaetano Corteo after he presented Tuck with the oversized charity check.
It’s been a busy week for the Giants defensive captain. On Sunday, Big Blue roared past the Patriots 21-17 with another comeback victory behind the arm of Eli Manning. Two days later, the team celebrated their victory with a euphoric parade down the Canyon of Heroes in Manhattan.
“It’s very humbling to be in this position and I honestly thought, now that this is my second one, I thought the first one would prepare me for what the onslaught would be,” Tuck said of winning his second Super Bowl in four years—both against the Patriots. “But it’s just been something that you can’t put words to.”
Tuck was greeted by several dozen fans at the pizzeria, clad in Giants apparel and carrying footballs with the hope of leaving with Tuck’s signature permanently scribbled onto the ball.
Umbertos was still decorated in Giants blue with balloons floating in the air and championship flags hung from wooden poles. Outside, a white banner dangling from the second floor balcony congratulated the Giants on their fourth Super Bowl in franchise history.
Tuck said Umberto Corteo, the founder of the pizzeria, has always supported him on the field and now “he’s supporting me in my charity, too.”
“It’s humbling,” he added.
The pizzeria got a lot of attention for transporting pizza to their favorite team two days before the Super Bowl, but the tradition started nearly five years ago when former Giant Michael Strahan picked up some pizza and said “‘Man, I would love to have some of that pizza in the locker room,’” according to Gaetano.
Umbertos obliged and ever since that day, they’ve been delivering about 15 pizza pies to the Giants training facility in New Jersey every Friday for an after practice special.
Tuck said a line quickly forms when they return the locker room. “Luckily I’m a captain and I can tell guys to get out of the way,” he joked.
Tuck, who battled through various injuries all season, said the celebration is starting to wind down, and he hopes he can take some time off to reflect on the Giants surprising championship run.
“It really hasn’t set in,” he said. “I don’t think I’ve had time to reflect on the entire season, I haven’t even had time to reflect on the game.”
He added: “It seems almost magical.”