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What's a couple to do?
Ruby and Randy Gunther are seen having another impromptu Giants-Patriots debate. Sunday's Super Bowl will only add fuel to their passion of their football teams. (Times photo by Bruce Farrin)
Maya Gunther signals touchdown as she stands between her parents, Patriots fan Randy and Giants fan Ruby. In the background is the Fathead mural of Giant fullback Branon Jacobs, which adorns one side of the couple's bedroom. (Times photo by Bruce Farrin)
He's a Patriot fan; she's a Giant fan
RUMFORD -- In football terms, it's a mixed marriage of the worst kind -- he's a Patriot fan; she's a Giant fan.
Driving past Randy and Ruby Gunther's home on the Isthmus Road, one of the obvious things that will catch your eye is the Patriots flag by the garage. The thought is that this is a home that supports the Patriots. Well yes. And no.
Once you stepped inside the home, one can't help but notice the large Fathead mural of Giants' fullback Brandon Jacobs on a wall of a nearby room, with a couple Giants' team emblems around that. That room happens to be the couple's bedroom!
This difference of allegiances is all coming to a head this Sunday with New England and New York clash in the Super Bowl.
Randy and Ruby are not passive about their football. They are very passionate about their teams.
Ruby said, "This has been going on for our whole relationship. I've been a Giants' fan since I was 12. My step-dad was a Giants' fan, so that was my introduction to football."
The couple has been together for five years, married for two.
Randy noted,"We've known each other for 15 years. Her brother is my best friend. He is a Patriots' fan. He knows better. When he comes up, I have someone on my side."
He added, "A lot of the older crowd, before the Patriots came along, the home team was the Giants. A lot of the grandparents taught the kids -- Giants, Giants, Giants."
Ruby noted, "There probably isn't a day that goes by that we don't talk about how the Giants beat the Patriots, or I should say, that I don't talk about the Giants beating the Patriots."
What's with the Jacob's mural?
Randy said, "As a guy, we're always scratching to see what would please your significant other."
Ruby then interrupted and laughingly said, "Brandon Jacobs."
He continued, "For Christmas presents and to go kind of go above and beyond. Unfortunately, she's a Giants' fan."
So he got her the Jacobs' Fathead two years ago, which was placed in their basement. "I was fine with that because I didn't have to see that on a daily basis."
However, the mural did not remain there.
"I put it in our bedroom when they beat the Patriots this last time (Nov. 6)," noted Ruby.
How did Randy let that happen?
Ruby said, "We had a bet that day on the game. The bet was about he won't take me to the movies. We've been together for a hundred years. I like to go to movies and he doesn't, so (the bet was) you're going to take me to the movies and I get to pick. He said, 'I don't care' because he thought for sure they (the Giants) would lose. So when I won, I was so very excited and I said, hmmm, Brandon Jacobs lives downstairs. I'm going to bring this one step further and brought him up (to my bedroom).
"Not only is he up, but I have a smaller picture above my side of the bed and there's another Giants' comment on my side going to the bathroom," she noted.
Randy's reaction to this was restrained with a one-word response: "Disgust."
He was quick to point out that there's no doubt which side of the bed his wife sleeps on.
Was Ruby rubbing it in a bit?
"She was gloating, for sure," said Randy.
And while the Fathead is a conversation piece, so is the Patriot flag.
"He put that stupid Patriots' flag right on the garage, which makes this seem that this is a Patriots' house. It's not," she noted, adding that she's taken it down a couple of times.
Ruby said she does take a lot of guff for being a vocal Giant fan.
"I went to Hannaford's last Sunday and I had my Giants' shirt on. And somebody (holding thumbs down) was like (mouth fart noise) in my face. Are you kidding me? Really!"
"Everyone knows my wife's a Giants' fan and they try not to hold it against her. They're good people," said Randy.
Ruby said, "The woman who works across the hall from me (at Oxford County Mental Health) is a big Patriots' fan as well, so I get it everywhere. So I'm pretty used to that."
Ruby's Giants' roots are genuine. "I went to Eli's (Manning, Giants' quarterback) first game ever in 2004 against Michael Vick (then Atlanta quarterback). I'm not pretending I like football. I am a Giants' fan. I mean business. I love the Giants."
So where does their daughter, Maya, stand? Well, at age three and a half, she'd rather play games on the Ipad, but she does like one aspect of football. That's when a player crosses the goal line. They she'll raise her arms up and yell, "touchdown!"
Although the Patriots and Giants also played in the 2007 Super Bowl, this will be the first time Randy and Ruby have been together for these teams for the big game.
That's because Randy was working as a contractor in Afghanistan. He worked there for three years and could leave again anytime now for another year of contract work, possibly even before Sunday.
"Tough times. But financially, have to do it. It's not the most desirable place to be," he noted.
But for now, they're planning to be "together" for this Sunday's event.
Asked how they plan to behave during Sunday's Super Bowl, Randy joked, "Divorce!"
"I'm quite sure, if I'm here, we'll watch it in separate rooms.
Ruby noted, "We usually don't get along that well during games, at all."
Randy clarified, "By all that well, not at all."
They said they will have friends over for the big game. So do they divide the group?
Randy responded, "No, it's me against everyone here."
He clarified, "There not Giants' fans. They're against the Patriots."
Rudy said she will be sitting in her usual spot, wearing a Giants' jersey with the same blanket.
"Oh, she's a Patriots' fan through and through," said Randy.
Ruby responded, "She doesn't know yet."
However, when daddy said softly to her, "Go Patriots," she raised her arms up to signal touchdown and said "yeah!"
Ruby said, "He's leaving for Afghanistan pretty soon, so I'm going to have a whole year, at least, to get the Giants into her head."
One aspect that both Ruby and Randy can agree on is that no matter which team wins this Super Bowl, it will be memorable.
Ruby said, "It's going to be a good one. I'm a little nervous for it."
Randy said, "There'll be verbal warfare for years to come."
There's been verbal warfare already.
They have not yet made a bet on this game because it's not a surety that Randy will still be home by Sunday.
Ruby did note that they both like the Red Sox. "But I don't like the Celtics. I'm a Mavericks' fan. I know. I like Dirk (Nowitski)."
The good part, from Randy's perspective, is that they both love to watch sports.
"She's a highly intelligent woman. I don't hold her sports' interests against her," noted Randy. "She's taught our daughter many valuable lessons. But when it comes to sports, that's where I step in."
Okay, interview over. As the notebook in put away, the lens cap placed back on the camera, the couple began an impromptu conversation noting that for a rematch of these teams in the Super Bowl in such a short time is a credit to both teams.
Randy said, "Credit to Tom Coughlin (Giants' coach) and Bill Belichick (Patriots' coach), and Tom Brady (Patriots' quarterback) for..."
"And Eli Manning," interrupted Ruby.
And that began an impromptu debate, not loud, but with gesturing and faint smiles.
"You can't credit Eli Manning," said Randy.
"Are you serious?" responded Ruby.
And so it goes.