Sunday, February 12, 2012

Former New York Giant donates Toomer to Mutter Museum

Philadelphia--Amani Toomer, the former N.F.L. wide receiver who played for the New York Giants from 1996-2008, ignoring the heated rivalry between the northeast's two largest cities, made a very generous donation to Philadelphia's Mutter Museum last week.

"They'd been after me for years to donate and, being in a good mood after watching my Giants Super Bowl victory, I decided to donate," said Toomer. "I was reluctant at first, but I did it."

No, the donation was not in the form of a giant check or a stack of cash, as the California native has no real connection to the area, the famous museum or its staff. The museum, oddly enough (or maybe not so oddly enough), was after something altogether different.

The Mutter Museum is part of the College of Physicians and has become widely known, even beyond the medical field, for housing a vast collection of, as the New York Times describes it, "medical oddities that delight, frighten, elate and scare the senses simultaneously."

Actually, the donation has been in the crosshairs of the museum since the player came into the league in 1996.

Why? Well, one of the prize pieces of the Mutter Museum collection is the tumor of President Grover Cleveland (pictured below) and the staff has been desperately looking to add a signature piece as a headline, visitor-attracting neighbor: enter Amani's Toomer. The Michigan alum's Toomer (jersey) will be labeled and placed in a jar of formaldehyde, like Cleveland's tumor, to be preserved for generations to come.
"We really desired a contemporary athlete's medical oddity as a unique addition to the museum's extensive and exhaustive collection. We secured Brett Favre's ego last year--when he passes on--and now we have Amani's Toomer," said the museum's director of promotions Michael Bontini, smiling from ear to ear. "Even before I came onto the scene here four years ago the College had contacted Amani on a number of occasions about his Toomer."

"Wow, I think they contacted me as early as 1996 about handing over Toomer and I was like 'who is this and how did you get this number?' I had never even been to the museum. But they came up to meet with me, almost by force (he laughs), a couple times early on, I learned a lot about the College of Physicians, but I just didn't feel comfortable doing it at the time," said Amani. "They contacted me each year since and, finally, Gladys [Trembower, the director] and her persistence paid off. I was ready to hand over Toomer."

Part of the donation deal clearly outlines that the museum is sole owner of Toomer, and from this point on Amani Toomer will simply be known as Amani. "That's why this was such a difficult decision for me, I was just handing over my last name to a random, but flat out wacky museum in Philadelphia. But, I'm doing it because I love their mission and it kind of gets my name out there. Plus, did I mention that it is just a flat out wacky museum?"

The staff has made it clear that they are looking to attract more New Yorkers to visit the museum, and the addtion of Amani's Toomer combined with the Super Bowl victory may be the exact recipe needed.

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