ALBANY - There was no torch to pass, but there nevertheless was a meeting of significance at training camp. Mark Bavaro, the revered tight end who captured the hearts and imagination of Giants fans, paid a visit and introduced himself to Jeremy Shockey, the heralded tight end who in barely a week has already captured the hearts and imagination of Giants fans.
Bavaro made a rare appearance, accompanying another former Giants player, Phil McConkey.
"A lot of people have been saying that Jeremy Shockey is the best thing that ever happened in my career, and that's true in a way,'' Bavaro said. "It's nice to be remembered.''
Asked about the comparisons with Shockey, Bavaro added "I saw a picture, he's very handsome, and it's appropriate.''
Tight end past and present met in the trainers room as Shockey was preparing for the afternoon practice. "He came up to me and shook my hand and said he's heard a lot about me,'' Shockey said. "I said 'I heard a lot about you.' He talked about how to handle stuff, what teams are going to do to you if you catch a lot of balls.''
Bavaro earned the nickname "Rambo'' for his hard-charging ways during his time (1985-90) with the Giants. Now 39, Bavaro lives in Naples, Fla. and said he works as a consultant with McConkey as an equity trader.
Bavaro did not see Shockey's brilliant tackle-breaking 48-yard catch-and-run in the preseason opener against the Texans, a play that was reminiscent of Bavaro's now-famous play against the 49ers on Dec. 1, 1986, when he dragged most of the San Francisco defense with him on a reception that lives on in highlight films.
"I didn't think it was that big of a deal at the time,'' Bavaro said. "But it's like wine, it gets better with time.''
As for coming to camp, Bavaro was anxious to meet the 21-year old rookie. "He's got to go out and play his own game,'' Bavaro said. "I went out and played my own game. My career's over, his is just starting. I don't think he cares one way or another about the comparison.''
More Camp Notes
Coach, how did you like the afternoon practice?
"Good,'' Jim Fassel said. "Very good. Excellent.''
What Fassel saw was plenty of hitting and also something else. "You can feel the intensity and the spirit,'' he said.
Sean Bennett took a licking and kept getting up, DE Frank Ferrara leveled TE Marcellus Rivers, a few minor altercations took place. Once, Mike Barrow came on a blitz, too soon, and slammed into unsuspecting center Jason Whittle, who promptly shoved Barrow. Mostly, though, the workout was filled with high-energy football. Fassel commended his team afterward.
"They practice that well and keep it up, this will be good,'' Fassel said. "These guys are going after each other and then patting each other on the back.''
Owen Pochman hit a line-drive 40-yard goal that delighted his teammates. The successful kick allowed the Giants to skip conditioning running.
Scott Pioli, the Patriots vice president of player personnel, watched practice from the sideline, as the Giants granted permission for the look-see. The Giants sent David Gettleman, their director of pro personnel, to New England's camp last week. The teams scouted one another for possible free agent pickups once cuts are made.