Sixteen pizzas the New York Giants had ordered from a Long Island pizzeria arrived safely in Indianapolis for one of the team’s last pre-Super Bowl practices after a 700-mile trip that began with an early-morning police escort to New York’s LaGuardia Airport.
The saucy snack has been a longtime tradition of Big Blue players, who eat them after every Friday practice.
Superstitious players even thought they might lose the Super Bowl without their weekly dose of doughy goodness from Umberto’s in New Hyde Park, Long Island.
The pizza was "excellent," quarterback Eli Manning told the New York Post after the meal on Friday.
"They were gone in less than 10 minutes," said Gaetano Corteo, 34, the restaurant’s general manager who made and then delivered the pies.
He said guard David Diehl and defensive end Justin Tuck called in the order last weekend.
"They destroyed all of the pies. There was nothing left," said Corteo, who happily handed the pizzas off to Big Blue inside their temporary practice home at the University of Indianapolis.
"If there had been 10 more pies, they would have destroyed those too," said friend Dino Gatto, who was traveling with Corteo.
With news helicopters buzzing overhead, the duo and their precious cargo — which had been packed in special heat-retaining bags — left for the airport from the Long Island restaurant around 8:30am with a blaring police escort from the Nassau County Sheriff.
The VIP treatment continued at LaGuardia, where they were met by federal airport screeners and representatives from Delta who ushered the pizzas through security and onto a waiting MD-88 jet.
Flight attendants wearing Giants jerseys carefully stowed the cheesy meals into overhead bins.
"It’s all about consistency," Corteo said. "They come in the locker room every Friday and know the pies are there. It’s a part of their everyday lives, and it’s such an honor for me and my family back home — it’s awesome."
The restaurant sent four kinds of pizza to Big Blue: "Grandma," a mostly sauce pie, light on cheese; "Buffalo," spicy buffalo chicken and blue cheese, "Christino," a thin-crust pie made with focaccia bread, mozzarella, fresh basil and sliced tomatoes; and "Pazzo," a deep-dish pie, with marinara sauce, mozzarella, crumbled homemade sausage, roasted peppers and black olives.