Excerpt: "Justin Pugh wasnít able to make the send-off family dinner Friday night at his parentsí home 45 minutes outside of Philadelphia for his older brother, who is being deployed on Tuesday.
His brother, Michael Gavaghan, a career Air Force man who is currently stationed at McGuire AFB in Burlington County, is a flight engineer. He flies in a KC-10 aircraft. Among his duties are to help refuel various airplanes and assist pilots with performance data and the airplaneís operation.
The centerpiece of the farewell weekend comes Sunday afternoon at MetLife Stadium, when Michael and three of his Air Force buddies will attend the Giants-Packers game to watch his younger brother start at right tackle for the Giants.
"Itís great," Gavaghan said on Friday. "This is a huge game, too. This whole deployment is great. I get to actually see my family before I leave instead of talking to them on Skype or the phone. The last time I was deployed it was from Japan and I didnít get the chance to spend time with my family."
Gavaghanís deployments have included a six-month stint in Afghanistan and a seven-month stay in Iraq. He couldnít reveal where heís going this time for security reasons.
Football Sundays have helped Pugh and Gavaghan re-establish their bond. Gavaghan, who at 30 is seven years older than Pugh, was out of the house by the time Pugh got serious about the sport. The first game of Justinís that Michael attended was his final game at Syracuse.
"He really didnít know how involved I was with football," Pugh said. "Since he has come back, weíve been able to reconnect."
Gavaghan, a huge football fan, said he didnít realize how good his baby brother was until he saw him play. He has attended every Giants home game this season.
"I didnít realize he had NFL potential," said Gavaghan, who has spent two years in Germany, two in Japan and six in Florida. "Itís been great to watch him play.
"I always try to get up there to watch the games and hang out with him. For such a long period of time I was stationed overseas and didnít get to hang out with him. Justin being involved in football has brought us closer. Itís a great thing."
In addition to Michael and his three pals, Pughís stepdad, Frank Gavaghan, whom he is very close to, and an aunt and uncle will attend the game. Pughís parents and family are regulars at Giants home games, sometimes taking turns because of the limited number of tickets each player is given.
"Itís been awesome," Pugh said of having his family and friends attend games. "Itís cool for them to be so close and to come up whenever they want."
Pugh, the Giants first-round pick (19th overall), has given everybody plenty to see and be proud of. He cracked the starting lineup in the preseason and hasnít missed a snap. He has the look of being a mainstay on the Giants offensive line for the next decade.
After struggling early, the 6-4, 301-pound Pugh has settled in smartly. He has allowed just three sacks this season and went five straight games without allowing a sack until last week against the Raiders. He has been exceptional in the run game. He explodes off the ball and gets into his opponent quickly.
Although Pugh was the fifth offensive tackle in the April draft, he has played as well or better than those taken ahead of him: Eric Fisher (first overall), Luke Joeckel (second), Lane Johnson (fourth) and D.J. Fluker (11th).
"Heís getting better every game," coach Tom Coughlin said. "The experience factor starts to set in. There are things he hasnít seen. If he makes an error, he wants to get that corrected right away and heíll talk about it. This experience for him has been outstanding." Read more...