Two-Time Giants Super Bowl Champ Sean Landeta Spends A Night with Our Heroes
By Neil A. Carousso, Special to ConnectingVets.com and WCBS Newsradio 880
NORTHPORT, N.Y. — A humble 6-foot Giant walked into the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center on Long Island Thursday evening wearing his 1986 Super Bowl ring and a debt of gratitude on his sleeve.
“It really gives me chills to think of what they did and why we’re able to live how we do here to come and see the veterans and talk to them and hear their stories,” retired NFL punter Sean Landeta said.
He won two Super Bowls with the New York Football Giants at the conclusion of the 1986 and 1990 NFL seasons. Landeta is an All-Pro and All-Decade Team punter who played 22 seasons – the longest tenure in league history for his position – in the National Football League, mostly with the Giants. He also played for the Rams, Buccaneers, Packers and Eagles.
Landeta is known for pinning the opposing team inside the 20 yard line; he retired with the league record for doing so, and he is currently number two on the all-time record list for most punts inside the 20, second to retired Giants punter Jeff Feagles, Landeta’s successor.
He recalled an amusing story he told a group of veterans, who surrounded him to talk football, of the moment he thanked legendary G-Men quarterback Phil Simms on the sideline of Super Bowl XXI for throwing a couple incompletions that gave Landeta an opportunity to appear in the big game against the Denver Broncos. He told the vets he wanted his family to get to see him play in the big game in person at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California. Simms, the Super Bowl MVP, actually set a record for completing 22 of 25 passes, leading Big Blue to victory over the Broncos 39-20.
From the moment Landeta walked in to the building where the veterans live on the Northport VA Medical Center campus, they were fascinated by his playing career, but Landeta was awestruck by the true heroes around him.
“As a player, people are always asking you about you, and you know, I’ve had such good times just asking these guys: ‘tell me about you and where you’ve been and what you’ve done,’” Landeta said, adding, “It really humbles you to see what they’ve done and makes you realize how lucky we are to have heroes like this.”
It was a casual night that will stay with those men forever. They took pictures with Landeta wearing his Super Bowl ring on their fingers, watched preseason football on the television, and sat and talked about their services and their current day-to-day struggles.
At the end of the night, everyone was smiling.
“A lot of them seem like they’re in a pretty good place. I really enjoyed my time with them. I hope I can come back again.”