Josh Hyman took a fair amount of abuse for being a New York Giants fan during his time as a student at the University at Buffalo in the late 1990s. Wounds from Super Bowl XXV were still fresh here, and anyone wearing the jersey of any team other than the Bills is always living a little dangerously.
The Giants have gone 1-1 in Super Bowls since Hyman's UB graduation 13 years ago. Now, with New York getting another shot at a ring next week against New England, Hyman can take comfort that his faith in Big Blue is being rewarded.
Hyman is the author of a song parody, "You Down With JPP," a tribute to Giants pass rusher Jason Pierre-Paul that is set to the music of Naughty By Nature's 1991 rap hit, "O.P.P." Friends and family helped Hyman produce a video of the song that as of Friday had been viewed more than 96,000 times on YouTube. That may not quite rival the 1985 Bears' Super Bowl Shuffle in terms of national recognition, but the video has turned Hyman into a mini-celebrity in the New York City area.
Hyman on Friday appeared on WFAN Radio's Boomer and Carton morning show, which is simulcast on MSG television. He and his song have been featured on several TV and radio programs in New York, and he's heard from Pierre-Paul and other Giants, who are "down" with his song.
"The good thing is that it's been spreading kind of slowly, like ink on a paper," Hyman said by phone this week from his apartment on New York's Upper East Side. He hears from viewers of the video who post comments on YouTube.
"People are like, 'I can't stop singing this,' " he said. "San Francisco fans are like, I hate you and I hate this song."
Writing song parodies is a regular activity for Hyman, 34, who has acted in films and TV commercials and done standup comedy in New York. The native of Rockland County also works as a substitute teacher as his day job. He was sitting on his couch watching a Giants game back in October when inspiration struck.
"I think it was the Miami game and JPP had a big sack. The announcer was like, 'The quarterback goes down from JPP.' Down with O.P.P, down with JPP. It wasn't a big leap."
Hyman has a friend who is a sound engineer, so he was able to record the song in a professional studio. He was also acting in an independent film at the time.
"I showed it to the production guys [working on the movie]. They were like, 'Yeah, let's do this, let's start getting a plan together.' "
Hyman said they put their "heart and soul into it. We edited it for like 36 hours straight. We said let's put everything we can into this."
By late November, the Boomer and Carton show got hold of the song and played it on WFAN. Soon ESPN.com wrote an item about it, then the New York Post. A website called Barstool Sports sent a lot of eyeballs to Hyman's video. He estimates that site alone "got us something like 12,000 hits."
Hyman's appreciation for football took off during his UB days, when he served as a student manager for the football team under coach Craig Cirbus.
"It was awesome -- I learned everything about football," Hyman said. "I was standing on the sidelines with coaches from Penn State, with professional linebackers, and taking it all in."
He later combined his love of football with an interest in writing, becoming sports editor of the UB student newspaper, the Spectrum, for two years. A big part of that job was writing columns about the football team.
"Some people do fraternities; I did football stuff" in college, he said.
Now that Hyman is an aspiring actor, he wishes he had taken theater classes while at UB.
"They have the amazing [Center for the Arts] there. So I was taking writing and communications and all that, but I wish I had pursued [acting] while I was there."
Hyman is happy to ride this wave as his Giants try to win a championship. He found out through "friends of friends" that many of the players are fans of his song.
"Jason Pierre-Paul wrote me a quick tweet, a direct message, and he said, 'Great job, it really gets me amped up for the games.' That is pretty cool."