ATLANTIC CITY - Hugo Cabrino arrived Thursday at the Atlantic City Convention Center holding a pristine white football.

On it was a New York Giants logo, along with logos commemorating each of the franchise's four Super Bowl championship teams.

By the end of the day, the white football was covered in ink.

Cabrino was at the National Sports Collectors Convention for Day 2 of the five-day event. Several members of the 1986 Giants, who won the first of the franchise's four Super Bowls, were there for a reunion commemorating their 30th anniversary.

"I'm building my first team ball," said Cabrino, 52, of Chester, Morris County, who saved up for the $650 ticket that guaranteed at least 22 signatures from the Giants. "It's really fantastic getting to meet everybody. I'm going to put this (football) away in my personal collection."

Highlighting the session were Giants legends Phil Simms and Lawrence Taylor. Other standouts at the reunion included Harry Carson, a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Maurice Carthon, Ottis Anderson and Sean Landeta.

"It's always good to come back and see your old teammates, and we have a special bond together," said Carthon, who was a fullback with the Giants from 1985-91.

"You get (a lot of fans sharing memories). I can appreciate it now because the position I played, (it) now is kind of extinct."

Thousands of sports fans were at the convention center Wednesday and Thursday. Many more were expected for the remainder of the event, which runs through Sunday.

The convention is in Atlantic City for the first time in 13 years.

About 850 exhibitors filled the room, and hundreds of famous athletes are expected to sign autographs through the weekend, including baseball greats such as Roger Clemens and Cal Ripken Jr., boxing legends Mike Tyson and Sugar Ray Leonard, professional wrestling legend Hulk Hogan, among others.

"We've had a great opportunity to put together a very unique 1986 Super Bowl champion team, over 26 players," said director of media relations Ray Schulte. "Giants fans are just fanatics. Given our close proximity to New York, there are a lot of Giants fans. The people are not only sports fans, they're collectors, too."

Thursday's big attraction was the Giants.

"It's a dream for me," Cabrino said of meeting the players. "A lot of times, you never think you're going to meet these people."

Fans brought the usual stuff to have signed - photos, replica helmets and jerseys. But some fans got creative, including one who brought a large replica of the Vince Lombardi Trophy and the back of a seat from the now-demolished Giants Stadium.

Jahn Dusenbery waited in line wearing the jersey of former Giants tight end Mark Bavaro while holding another for the member of the Giants Ring of Honor to sign.

"There's something special about the '86 Giants," said Dusenbery, 45, of East Brunswick. "I think that really galvanized myself as a Giants fan. My father was a Giants fan since the '40s. For him, I remember seeing how emotional he got when they won the '86 season."

Dan Harrison, 46, of the Marlton section of Evesham Township, brought 9-year-old son Dante with him. Though Dante was sporting a New England Patriots jersey, he is a football fan in general and loves collecting sports memorabilia from different eras.

"When Phil Simms started talking, he recognized his name and voice from the Madden football (video) game," Dan Harrison said. "When we were waiting in line for (Hall of Fame linebacker Lawrence) Taylor, he asked, 'Was he the kicker?' I was like, 'No. dude, he was definitely not the kicker.'"

Noah Koos, 11, and his family came from northern Virginia to meet the Giants. He held a shiny replica Giants helmet that sported a handful of signatures he collected throughout the day.

"It was really cool meeting them," said Koos, showing off his Simms autograph.

Neil Greenberg, 66, of Manalapan, Monmouth County, had a helmet for the 1986 team. Though he's a diehard Giants fan, he had Eagles and Bengals helmets with him, too, hoping to add to a collection that already features a helmet from every NFL team.

But meeting the 1986 Giants was special for him.

"I was 36 (that year)," Greenberg said. "They hadn't won anything since I was a kid, when there were NFL championship games in the pre-Super Bowl era. They were pretty bad for many years."

Contact: 609-272-7210

Twitter @ACPress_Russo

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