Tommy DeVito benched at halftime of Giants loss to the Eagles
Tommy DeVito wanted to become a brand — he filed for a trademark on his “Tommy Cutlets” nickname — as much as he wanted to become the starting quarterback for the New York Giants.
He still has designs on plastering his name on pizzas and pastas — but the one endorsement he couldn't get was from his coach.
DeVito had charmed the NFL with his rise to instant celebrity until the preseason third-stringer was knocked back to reality when he was benched in the second half of the New York Giants' 33-25 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles on Monday night.
He was replaced by Tyrod Taylor.
Giants coach Brian Daboll declined to name a starter for either of the final two games of the season.
“Just tried to spark the team," Daboll said of the move. “I don’t really have anything else to add to that. I just did it to try to spark the team.”
Taylor provided that spark when he connected with Darius Slayton for a 69-yard score late in the fourth that made it 30-25. DeVito could only watch from the sideline, before the long ride home — back to his parents’ house, where the 25-year-old QB still lives.
“It’s tough. It’s just a constant reminder that it’s a business," DeVito said. “They’re always going to try to find someone to replace you, wherever it is. At the same time, it is a business. It’s your job. I respect it. There’s no hard feelings one way or another.”
Aided by the love of his mother’s chicken cutlets and an agent he dubbed the “Italian Stallion” of the business, DeVito saw his 15 minutes of NFL fame explode once he started winning games for the lowly Giants.
He also spun the kind of local boy-makes-good stories that made DeVito a fan favorite.
DeVito, a New Jersey native, was cut at the end of training camp and signed to the practice squad. He was just supposed to be another arm behind No. 1 QB Daniel Jones and his backup, Taylor. But when Jones and Taylor each went down with injuries, DeVito was the unexpected starter.
He felt right at home in his home stadium. DeVito had played at MetLife Stadium in high school, leading nearby Don Bosco Prep to a state title.
His Cedar Grove roots, Italian heritage and an endorsement deal with a tomato sauce company that he said paired perfectly with his favorite dish, his mom’s chicken cutlets, put DeVito on the NFL map.
Local delis sent DeVito chicken parm sandwiches — sliced thin and fried crispy, of course — and even New York Yankees slugger Aaron Judge picked up the tab when the two happened to dine at the same restaurant earlier this month.
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DeVito’s agent, Sean Stellato, even had a viral moment when he was caught on the phone on the sideline dressed in a black and silver pinstripe suit and black fedora.
DeVito’s play sure helped his fame, too. DeVito threw for two touchdowns in a blowout loss against Dallas and followed the next game with 246 yards passing and three TDs in a win against Washington. He hadn’t thrown an interception in four straight games — but was sacked seven times in a loss to New Orleans last week.
Against the Eagles, DeVito was 9 of 16 for 55 yards in the first half and the Giants trailed 20-3. That was enough for Daboll to make the switch. Daboll needed to try something to get the Giants offense moving.
“You never know when a snap is your last, so I try to go out and make the most of every snap when I’m out there,” DeVito said. “I appreciate every snap that I’ve had.”
Taylor turned a halftime blowout into a one-score game against one of the top teams in the NFL. Taylor — who started three games this season and 56 times overall in a career that dates to 2011 — hoped it was enough to earn another shot.
“That is not my decision. My decision is to be ready when my number is called and I think that I proved that tonight," Taylor said. “I will continue to keep preparing whether it is me moving forward or not.”
Taylor was 7 for 16 for 133 yards and threw an interception to Kelee Ringo in the end zone on the final play with the Giants trying to tie the game.
“We’re going to work, watch the film, and do all that," DeVito said of the week ahead. "At the end of the day, it’s not me or Taylor's decision, it’s the coaches.”