David Njoku catches a touchdown pass, and tries to give it to a Giants fan. The Giants fan… um, didn’t want it. pic.twitter.com/oyPLrFT73c
— Neil Shulman (@IAKOWNeil) August 10, 2018
A New York Giants fan rejected a potentially historic souvenir by tossing the ball that scored Baker Mayfield’s first NFL touchdown back on the field.
At Yankee Stadium, fans will often toss back an opponent’s home run ball back onto the field. It doesn’t take the runs off the scoreboard, but the perpetrator is usually greeted with cheers from their fellow fans.
A New York Giants fan brought a little bit of The Bronx to East Rutherford on Thursday night, when the Cleveland Browns came to visit to open the preseason.
After Baker Mayfield, whom the Browns chose as the top overall pick in last April’s draft, tallied the first unofficial touchdown of his NFL career, the recipient, tight end and New Jersey native David Njoku, tossed the ball into the MetLife Stadium stands. Michael Delafuente, a firefighter from Plainfield, NJ, was the receiver this time, but turned down the pigskin artifact, tossing the ball back almost immediately.
The Browns’ official Twitter account noticed the rejection and jokingly called the Giants out.
They actually threw the ball back 😭😭😂😂
— Cleveland Browns (@Browns) August 10, 2018
Approached for comment by Dan Benton of GiantsWire, Delafuente expressed no regrets for his toss.
“I have no regrets. Like I screamed out when I stood up, ‘Giants all day!’” he said. “The memory of that moment will last longer and mean more to me than a Browns football.”
Delafuente remarked that he took Njoku’s gift as a form of disrespect, hence his return.
“After I saw the touchdown catch, I just jumped up talking smack. I was upset he scored on us,” he said. “When the ball came my way, I just went back to when I played football and knew it was like a disrespect thing, so I threw it back and screamed, ‘Get that (expletive) out of here! This is the Giants’ house. Big Blue!’”
On the college level, Delafunete admitted to being a fan of the Miami Hurricanes, Njoku’s alma mater, but the connection didn’t register at the time of his catch. He later revealed that Giants defensive lineman Damon Harrison offered his compliments about the toss, as did New York alum and Super Bowl hero Jay Alford, who was in attendance.
Despite the rejected gift, Mayfield and Njoku, who each contributed two touchdowns, earned a modicum of revenge, as their scores led to a 20-10 Cleveland victory.