Finest vs. Bravest game to honor 21 heroes

(Original publication: May 15, 2002)

In the eight months since the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center, the 343 New York City firefighters who lost their lives have been grouped in many ways: by firehouse, length of service, gender, race, place of residence.

But another group numbers 21. That's how many active or former players on the New York Fire Department's football team were killed the day the Twin Towers fell.

One of the seven active players was West Nyack's Thomas Foley.

Foley, who played football at Clarkstown South High School, joined the FDNY in 1990. Foley, who was 32 years old, worked for nine years at Squad 41 in the Bronx before joining Rescue 3 two years ago.

Foley and the other players who died will be honored Sunday during the Fun City Bowl, the annual charity football game between the FDNY and the New York Police Department, which lost 23 officers on Sept. 11, but none of the 85 players on its active football roster.

Although the game pitting the Bravest against the Finest is in its 30th year, this year's edition will be held at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., for the first time.

Between 30,000 and 40,000 people are expected to attend, said John Gormley, 37, a Garnerville resident and a defensive end for the Fire Department's football team.

"This year is a little larger than life for us, because of the events of the 11th," Gormley said. "We're not going to let the people that suffered and died at the World Trade Center be forgotten."

Three firefighters