MANCHESTER, Conn. (AP) -John Harris is a big New York Giants fan. His mom's boyfriend backs the New England Patriots.
They will watch the Super Bowl together at home in Stafford Springs, with $10 on the line.
``I give it to him every day,'' the 16-year-old Harris said. ``I tell him the Giants are going to win. He gives it right back.''
The mix of Giants and Patriots fans in Connecticut is good news for the state's sports bars and retailers.
Grille in Cromwell (110 miles from Foxborough, 109 miles from the Meadowlands) is moving out six pool tables to make room for the crowd of about 900 customers he expects on Super Bowl Sunday.
He's anticipating an even divide between Patriots fans and those rooting for New York, and has no plans to keep them separated.
``They've got to mix together, that's part of the fun,'' Howley said. ``You've got to be able to nudge your buddy in the side and say, 'Hey, your team screwed up.'''
At BC Sports, a collectibles store in the Buckland Hills Mall (128 miles from Giants Stadium, 92 miles from Gillette), Giants jerseys and NFC championship T-shirts fill one rack, while Patriots jerseys and AFC championship shirts occupy another.
Having two local teams in the big game has been great for business, said sales clerk Juanita Ortiz.
``We're selling a lot of both, but a lot more Giants stuff, their fans seem more excited,'' the 30-year-old Ortiz said.
``That's because Patriots' fans already have their stuff, they're used to winning,'' chimed in co-worker Tom Tackett, 18, of Vernon.
Customer Donna Ennis, 51, of Manchester, said she can't understand why anybody in Connecticut would root for the Giants.
``We're in New England right?'' she said. ``It's beyond me why they even sell Giants stuff here.''
Others wonder how anyone in Connecticut could root for the Patriots.
After all, New York played its home games at the Yale Bowl in New Haven in 1973 and 1974, while Yankee Stadium was being renovated.
Tom Ritter of Hartford, a lifelong Giants fan, remembers when New Yorkers would stream up to Hartford's bars on fall Sundays when the games were blacked out in the New York market, because they were not sold out.
Ritter was speaker of the Connecticut House of Representatives in 1998 when Patriots owner Bob Kraft agreed to move his team to Hartford, then backed out of a deal. The hardest part of that process, Ritter said, was trying to figure out how he would possibly root for the Patriots.
``I know I can't now,'' he said. ``Anyone who was rooting for the Patriots then should now be a Giants fan. It would be great if the Giants beat 'em. Can you imagine that, we take their undefeated season from them? That would be the ultimate vindication.''
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