By Evamarie Socha
The Daily Item
Kathy Hynoski didn’t miss her son’s first professional football touchdown — but she had to catch his celebratory “rhino” dance on replay.
“We were elated for him,” Hynoski said of her son Henry Jr., the former Southern Columbia High School and University of Pittsburgh football star turned New York Giants fullback, who scored his first NFL touchdown Sunday.
She and husband Henry Hynoski Sr. were at MetLife Stadium for the Giants’ final season game Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles.
Dec. 30 was also Henry’s birthday, and what better present than to see No. 45 bring it in for his first pro touchdown.
Kathy grabbed Henry Sr. for a good long hug and missed Henry Jr.’s touchdown dance.
“I was hugging my husband, so I had to see it again on the big screen,” she said.
There he was, Henry stomping his feet and making a rhino horn on his head with his hand as his teammates cheered him on.
So where did the rhino dance come from?
“I don’t know,” Kathy Hynoski said.
“Actually, on Christmas Day, we were teasing him about it, and my one niece did a similar dance. I don’t know if he got it from her.”
What Kathy does know is that Giants linebacker Spencer Paysinger, one of Henry’s best friends, told him he “had to put some shimmy into it.”
It was indeed a big day, Kathy said. Giants fans “were unbelievable. “
“Everyone was really loud and so happy for him,” she said. “When he was walking into the tunnel, all the fans yelled and cheered for him.”
And while first-touchdown day was wonderful, it was also bittersweet, she said. Despite trouncing the Eagles 42-7, the current Super Bowl champion Giants learned in the locker room that they had been knocked out of the playoffs by the Chicago Bears’ victory over the Detroit Lions.
“He really wanted to get in the playoffs,” Kathy said. But at a gathering later with family and friends, they learned the Minnesota Vikings had beaten the Green Bay Packers, another scenario that would have knocked the Giants out of contention, and somewhat eased the blow.
Kathy Hynoski said her son’s second pro football season has been a little easier for her. She is more relaxed watching him play, not as worried that he’ll get hurt.
She also has had some surprises.
In a room for family and friends after the Giants played the Dallas Cowboys, Kathy was standing with Henry’s jersey, and who should come over but Hall of Fame quarterback Troy Aikman, now an announcer for Fox Sports, who has made no secret of his admiration for Hynoski.
Aikman “came up and asked if we are Henry’s parents,” she said. “He then said, ‘I want to tell you, I’m his biggest fan.’ And he congratulated us and said he is so impressed with Henry.”
So far, having a son in pro football “has been a good experience,” she said. “I’m just happy for Henry because this is his dream. But I can’t deny that I get nervous about it. I pray — a lot.”