Joe Ruback is not your Average Joe
Every team has their share of fans and super fans alike, but the New York Giants are a little different. Not every superfan is widely known throughout the league, I mean sure you have Fireman Ed from the New York Jets but he doesn’t hold a plate to this guy.
I’m talking about Joe Ruback better known to many of us as The License Plate Guy(LPG), he goes to every single home game and even takes his show on the road sitting right behind the Giants bench in support of people he calls his friends.
Ruback’s twitter(@LicensePlateGuy) is as popular if not more popular than some Giant players themselves, his Facebook page has over 2,000 friends, which I could bet that Joe has almost talked to them all. We’ve seen him on T.V, in print and some of us have been lucky enough to chat with him at the games, but who is the man behind the license plates, and what got him where he is today?
I’m going to assume you were born into a family full of diehard Giants fans am I right? Giants fans are bred into the family – that’s how I became a Giants fan because my dad is a fan, his dad was a fan, etc.
So how did the whole wearing the license plates start? When I was 16 and got my first car, I loved it and my license plate so much – G1ANTS – that my Dad saw how proud I was to get that plate and said I should wear it around my neck to a Giants game – which is exactly what I did. License Plate Guy was born.
Honestly this whole License Plate Guy thing has taken on a life of it’s own. I didn’t have any specific intention or aspiration when I started 10 years ago with a few plates sitting behind the Giants bench. I’m going to ride this wave for as long as I can afford to… And just to set the record straight, NO, the Giants DO NOT pay my way.
How many plates do you own? Currently there are 24 plates – which were accumulated over the course of my 10 year run. The coolest thing about this run is that people have begun to notice me as “The License Plate Guy” and now send me license plates from around the United States. I received one from a guy in Boston, “Pats 19-0”, and an old Connecticut license plate from a guy who currently lives in Georgia, “GIANTZ”, and an Alaska plate, “GIANTS” from a couple a few from Virginia and even Arizona. I just received a letter from a guy in Europe that is sending me his Giants plate from overseas. INCRED
Now out of all 24 plates which one is your favorite plate of all time? Because it’s my first, my favorite plate is the old orange NY plate, G1ANTS. I have kept the name all these years and it’s on my car (and neck) today. 18END1 is my next favorite plate. Both will stay my cars til the day I die.
What’s your favorite at home Giants memory?
Here our Joe’s top four moments at Giants Stadium:
1.1986 49ers at Giants Stadium, score 49-3
2.1986 NFC Championship game v. Washington Redskins
3. 2000 NFC Championship game v. Minnesota Vikings 41-0
4. 12/19/81 OT win v. Dallas Cowboys
How many Superbowls have you been too and how where they for you? I’ve been to all four Giants Super Bowl victories. 2000 we won’t talk about. My favorite is 2007 because it set off LPG as the face of the GIANTS FANS. The Superbowl is the ultimate football experience. Half of the 100,000 eyes are on one team, half on the other. This is it – the culmination of half a year’s effort and the last team standing is the World Champion. And when you’ve gone to every game and sat behind the bench for every game you almost feel like you are personally part of the run.
You’ve met a lot of players over the years, who did you share your best experience with and who did you share your least favorite with? (Here are some of Joe’s favorite moments )
In my younger days I played a few rounds of golf with Lawrence Taylor and babysat for Joe Morris’s kids. For the past few years I’ve been friends with almost everyone on the 53 man roster – and they’re all great people, especially Brandon Jacobs, Chase Blackburn, Zak DeOssie, Mark Herzlich, Henry Hynoski, Chris Canty, Dave Tollefson and Kevin Boothe to name a few. I’m true blue there is no worst player not even Dave or Derek Brown.
You would need to write a book – this is not a concise Q&A response. I have more stories than you could imagine. Here’s one from the infamous Giants/Minnesota/Detroit game of 2010:
I should be in Yonkers at my school where I work. Instead after 5 flights, 7 hours driving in a blizzard, a plea for an extra day off and an empty wallet, I’m in Detroit for the Giants vs. Vikings game. I’m being interviewed by the news; they’re intrigued by my license plates around my neck. I’m the License Plate Guy. It’s a surreal scene involving collapsed domes & orphaned football teams and I’m the only fan on the sidelines! I tell my story. When I was 16, I wore 1 plate, G1ANTS. License Plate Guy has been around for 25 years. Not until a decision to sit front row of every away game for the historic 2007 season did LPG become a signature fan. In the playoff run players interacted with me, “Hey LPG! Fabio! Lucky Charm!” After Tampa, friends emailed me AP photos. After Dallas & Green Bay, I was in the paper and NFL Films. After Super Bowl XLII, I was on the DVD after Tyree’s catch, cemented in Giants history. On Giants.com people thanked me for doing what they wish they could. I’m told “You really are the Giants #1 fan!” This will be my 8th complete season going to every game. I’m lucky to live the NY Giants #1 fan dream.
That’s some story crazy how it all just came full circle, now what about your least favorite players/experiences?
Why don’t I just give it you by names:
1. Desean Jackson
2. Flipper Anderson
3. Clyde Simmons
4. Herman Edwards
5. Randall Cunningham
6. Michael Westbrook
You are known now for you’re jerseys as well, How did that starts and where did you get the idea for them/make them? There are 3 things I believe Im known for 1. PLATES 2. JERSEYS 3.SITTING FRONT ROW. I have not sat in any other seat but front row between the 35′s. The jerseys well that started years back when I made a WIDE-RIGHT jersey which I wore to Super Bowl 42. So for the past 4 or 5 years I have made around a hundred jerseys and I will not wear a regular jersey for the rest of my life (laughing).
Many players have asked me to make them jerseys which either hang in their houses (which I’ve seen and love) or in restaurants that they own/family owns or have stake in. The guy I do my jerseys with will NEVER make a duplicate jersey for sale, so you will never see my jerseys anywhere.
A few I’ve seen are Steve Weatherford’s and Brandon Jacobs both were awesome. Are they your designs or a joint between you and the players? All My ideas.
Do you and Jets Super-Fan Fireman Ed have a rivalry? As for Fireman Ed- It became a rivalry thru the fans but to tell you the truth I have met him a few times recently on the Boomer/Carton show and he is a very VERY Passionate Jets fan, which I love. Hes down to earth and lets face it he gets 80,000 fans to get quiet just to scream again I REALLY LIKE THAT…..good dude (just as long as he doesn’t talk down to the Giants and their fans). I do believe I am more loyal as he attends home and drivable games where I go to “ALL” NO MATTER WHAT.
Are you involved with any charity or foundations currently that you would like to talk about?
As far as charities I will work with any Giants player or the organization itself on any charity it would like. I’m very much involved with Chris Canty’s camp THE CHRISCANTYFOUNDATION.COM and I helped run Chase Blackburn’s football camp this summer. Any other charity BRING IT ON!!
That’s Joe “ License Plate Guy” Ruback for you, one hell of a passionate fan and an overall great guy. Honestly while conducting this interview with Joe, it felt like I was talking to my neighbor about the Giants. He let me in on what his plans are for his next jersey and trust me it will be a great one. We chatted about the first day of training camp and how in his words “David Wilson is a beast!!” He is just a die-hard New York Giants Fans with a knack for license plates and jerseys. There is no doubt, that Joe Ruback is not your average Joe.