First, there was “The Godfather.” Then, “Goodfellas.” Then, “The Sopranos.” Now, it’s time for “The DeVito.”
Yes, cue up the love theme from "The Godfather" and break out the terrible Tony Soprano impressions, New York has a new Italian hero to love.
Tommy DeVito, who lives with his parents virtually in the shadow of MetLife Stadium, has surfaced from deep in Jersey to do the impossible: give the Giants a bit of their dignity back, and have fun doing it. DeVito, who made his NFL debut two days before Halloween, is embracing the role of folk hero, bringing swagger (and chains) to a team desperately in need of any kind of good news.
DeVito — who looks and sounds like he ought to be the subject of a mid-'70s Springsteen song about growin' up a Giants fan in Jersey — has somehow quarterbacked the Giants to two straight wins in his three starts. Granted, beating Washington and New England in 2023 isn't like beating Washington in the '80s and New England in the '00s. Plus, the Cowboys absolutely skull-dragged New York in DeVito's first start. But still … for a 2022 playoff team that looked like it was headed off a cliff, this is quite the turnaround.
DeVito leaned into the role, too. His father in the stands has become a social media character, and DeVito himself has made the classic Italian fingers-up expression a team rallying point.
DeVito's stats aren't exactly electric; he has seven touchdowns and 697 yards in five games, including the Dallas debacle and his initial game, where he completed two passes for all of minus-1 yard. He grades out at the 29th-best quarterback in the league right now, per Pro Football Focus — not great, but ahead of Atlanta's Desmond Ridder, Carolina's Bryce Young, and the guy DeVito shares a stadium with. But he's bringing a dose of fire to the Giants, and it's paying off.
"I try to bring that energy all the time," DeVito said Sunday. "I respect this game so much, but at the same time it's a child's game in my eyes. So, I try to have fun with it."
"He's got a great mentality. He enjoys himself out there. He's serious when he needs to be," Giants head coach Brian Daboll said after Sunday's win over New England. "For a young, undrafted rookie, he's worked extremely hard since OTAs and he's made progress, still has got a ways to go."
Here’s how Jersey that DeVito is: Prior to Sunday’s game against the Patriots, the last time he started a game in MetLife was during his state high school championship. (He led Don Bosco Prep in Bergen County to the title as a junior.)
Sunday, he was the last Giant introduced, striding onto the field to the ecstatic cheers of his hometown fans. “I'm not going to lie, I kind of blacked out,” he said. “I didn't know if people were cheering or booing or what was going on, it could've been anything, but I was just locked in, enjoying it.”
The question now is whether DeVito will hold onto the job after the Giants' upcoming bye week. On Monday, Giants GM Joe Schoen reiterated that the starting job in 2024 still, as of now, belongs to Daniel Jones — reasonable enough, given the $160 million contract the team invested in Jones last offseason.
“The expectation is when Daniel’s healthy he will be our starting quarterback,” Schoen said. “We don’t have a crystal ball in terms of how the rehab is going to go, and different patients respond differently to these surgeries … but that’s the expectation moving forward.”
In the near term, Jones’ backup Tyrod Taylor is slated to return from injury after the bye week. Daboll wouldn’t commit to keeping DeVito in as the starter upon Taylor’s return, saying only that “we’ll discuss a lot of things, look at a lot of things.”
So we’ll have to wait and see if The DeVito Saga gets a Part II or a Part III. The Giants will have five games remaining when they return from the bye, including two in the last three weeks against the Philadelphia Eagles. As endings go, that's a whole lot easier to predict than the “Sopranos” finale.
For his part, DeVito will keep the Italian-ness in check and focus on the bigger picture. “Whether if I would've been drafted number one overall or undrafted as I was, you need to go out and prove yourself,” he said. “That status and all that doesn't really mean anything, but how you go out and play means something.”
Maybe this is it for DeVito’s run as the quarterback of his hometown team, or maybe it’s the start of a long NFL career. We’re sure he and his old man will come up with an appropriate hand gesture for either one.