Giants quarterback Tommy DeVito is proudly embracing his Italian heritage and bringing a refreshing dose of authenticity to the league
When I was in my 20s I worked for a family-owned Italian restaurant in Eastpointe, Michigan, a suburb of Metro Detroit. The restaurant was opened in 1956 and still stands in its same spot to this day. It was founded by an Italian couple that immigrated to the United States in a time that saw many Italians leaving their home country for better opportunities. The restaurant stayed in the family, being passed on to the founder’s kids. Throughout my exposure to the family I was impressed by how strong their ties to Italian culture was, something that I know from experience as an Arab in America can be difficult to maintain.
I am reminded of my experience at this restaurant with the emergence of Giants quarterback Tommy DeVito. As the Giants enter their bye week, DeVito has led them to two straight wins and provided a silver lining in an otherwise disappointing 4–8 season. DeVito is very much a local product, growing up in Cedar Grove, New Jersey and dominating at local high school powerhouse Don Bosco. And now thanks to injuries, DeVito is getting his moment for a team that plays in a stadium 20 minutes away from where he grew up. And he is doing with all the swagger and gusto that we would expect from an Italian-American from New Jersey. It has been without a doubt, the highlight of this season for fans of the Giants.
Embracing the Culture
Stereotypes are usually a bad thing, as they are typically rooted in racism and a refusal to embrace different cultures. We see stereotypes about just about any minority that has a sizable population in the United States. Italian-Americans are no exception to this rule. They have been portrayed as mobsters and thugs in movies like “Goodfellas” and “Casino”. They have also been portrayed as self indulgent partiers in the MTV hit show “Jersey Shore”. But there are times when these stereotypes can be reclaimed by the culture and become a cultural identifier.