New York Giants center Shaun O'Hara was honored by the school and gave a speech at halftime of the Scarlet Knights game against Cincinnati after his team's Super Bowl XLII victory over the previously undefeated New England Patriots.
For the Manning family, the 17-14 win by Big Blue was their second straight championship with Peyton's younger brother Eli, winning the game's MVP trophy. For the Rutgers faithful, the Giants win marked the second straight year an alum picked up a ring with linebacker Gary Brackett winning one last year with the Indianapolis Colts.
"I think it's every boy's dream to play in the NFL and to have a chance to play in the Super Bowl," O'Hara said. "So to win it went above and beyond any dreams and expectations I had or could have had for a single moment in sports history."
The Giants were honored with a ticker-tape parade in New York and were showered with cheers from the enormous amount of fans in attendance. O'Hara said that the ovation they received from the fans at the parade showed him how big of a win it truly was because of what it meant to everyone.
"The parade was an unbelievable outpour of support from the Giants fans," he said. "These people really cared about the team and it went so far beyond a football game."
O'Hara said that getting the key to city was one of the best parts of the day because no one of the team anticipated that. To him, the whole day filled with events is something that will be with him for the rest of his life.
"The parade down the Canyon of Heroes was something that we will remember forever," he said. " [Also] the ceremony in Giants Stadium, when we came back from the city where 40,000 people were just waiting for us to come in there and bring the Vince Lombardi trophy home. Those are things that will be engraved with me forever."
This was the former Rutgers standout's first championship on the professional or collegiate level and the fact that he was able to celebrate this achievement with his teammates made it that much sweeter.
"I was talking to a couple friends of mine and they were teasing me saying that I'm 1-0 in bowl games," O'Hara jokingly said. "It certainly is a team achievement and that's probably why it feels so good. It's not an individual achievement, and that's what makes it even more special, we're forever linked together."
New York entered the game as 12 point underdogs to the heavily favored Patriots. Proving people wrong isn't a new concept to the Giants starting center who walked onto the Scarlet Knights team in 1995 and earned a roster spot on the Cleveland Browns in 2000 as an undrafted rookie free agent.
During his time with the Scarlet Knights, O'Hara was second team All-Big East his junior year and made the first team the next season.
The two-time All-Big East honoree makes it a priority to watch his Knights in action during the season and has also been in attendance for two of the school's monumental victories over Louisville and USF.
"Every Saturday I'm rushing home to see the game," O'Hara said. "It used to be where I had to rush home to see the 12 o'clock games, but now that Rutgers is doing so well, they have a little more of a prime time feel. I feel fortunate that I've been able to make it back to two Thursday night games the last few years the first one being the Louisville game, which ended up being one of the best college football games I've ever saw, and then the South Florida game this past year."
In the NFL, players take a lot of pride in the performance of their alma-maters during the fall. With Rutgers making three straight bowl games, O'Hara's school is no longer an after thought in the trash talking that takes place between teammates in the locker room.
"Its definitely made my Saturday mornings and nights a lot more pleasurable," he said. "Its funny how guys used to ask me where I went to school and now they already know."
The now Super Bowl champion has been recently made aware of the program's plans to expand the stadium and he said this will enhance the program as they continue to go forward.
"I'm extremely excited," O'Hara said. "It's a tremendous move for the program, and I think that its going to pay dividends in the long run."
O'Hara is impressed with the work of Head Coach Greg Schiano and his staff for their ability to keep the local recruits in the "State of Rutgers."
"I'm just so excited where the program is at now," he said. "You can look at the recent recruits that have agreed to come here and play football and how many home grown talents there are. The New Jersey kids are staying here to play big time college football, which is every kids dream."
Rutgers has shown when ESPN comes to Piscataway on a Thursday night great things happen. O'Hara has his eyes set on the upcoming season as he hopes they get another night game during the week so he can go see his college team make it happen on the grand stage, again.
"I'm looking forward to next year's Thursday game," he said. "I
hope it's against another big time opponent because I think that's when Rutgers
puts on its best show."
Below are a few photos from his visit [all images property of SOR]: