WEST NEWBURY — Much like any Monday after a New York Giants victory, Ron Lataille planned to spend the afternoon of Dec. 12 on the phone with his father, Al, rehashing the previous day's game.
Before Lataille, a West Newbury resident, had time to call his father, he received a call in which he was urged to rush to his father's hometown of Woonsocket, R.I. Al Lataille, 80, had been hit by a car as he attempted to navigate a crosswalk on his way home from Town Hall.
Al Lataille died due to the trauma of the collision before Ron ever made to Woonsocket.
"I planned to talk to him about the Giants that afternoon, but I got a call around 11:30 a.m. saying my dad had been hit," Ron Lataille said. "He passed away before I got there. The irony was the Giants were just starting to put together a run that eventually led to the Super Bowl."
Before the Giants marched through the postseason to a Super Bowl title, Lataille reached out to the Giants to share his story of how the team had united his family. Ron grew up watching Giants games with his father, and Ron later carried on the same tradition with his son, C.J., who graduated from Pentucket last spring.
"We watched every game every Sunday," Lataille said. "We didn't miss a play. Growing up, the Giants were the local team. Even after the Patriots were founded, the Giants were the team that was televised because the Patriots never sold out."
Lataille didn't expect a response from the Giants. After all, the team was just starting its postseason run, and Lataille wasn't even sure if he had sent the letter to the correct address.
"Honestly, I wasn't expecting to hear from them," Lataille said. "I didn't know who to address it to. I never heard from them, but I felt better sending the letter, even though it didn't get a response."
Two weeks after the Giants beat the Patriots in the Super Bowl, Lataille returned to his house after a dinner party and noticed a box waiting for him at his front door. The Giants organization had sent a handwritten sympathy card, along with a regulation football signed by all members of the Super Bowl champions.
"The sympathy card was more important to me than the ball," Lataille said. "I was shocked that an organization would take the time to do this."
Lataille shared the news with his son, C.J., who is a freshman at Bryant College. C.J. played football at Pentucket until his senior year, when multiple concussions forced him away from the game. He still plays intramural flag football and shares his father's passion for the Giants.
"He's as much of a die-hard as I am," Ron Lataille said. "He's in the minority in Patriots country, but we talk after every game the same way I used to talk to my dad. We can gloat for the next eight months knowing my dad is smiling."