Scott Hoffman is a Washington bartender by night, an Arlington resident by day and a full-time fan of the New York Giants football team.

Now 25, he's in his 21st year of going to Giants games. His father took him to his first games, and over the past 20 years, he's seen a total of three winning and three .500 seasons.

For this he drives a minimum of four hours each way, 500 miles round-trip, eight times a season, in a red Volvo with Virginia license plates NYG FAN.

A friend was on duty last night behind the bar of The Exchange, 1719 G St. NW, so Hoffman, known as Scooter in the bartending trade, could drive to New York for today's big game against the New Orleans Saints, the final match of the regular season for his team.

"You know, kickoff is 12:30 at Giants Stadium," he said, "and I'm a little nervous going into this weekend. I think they'll beat the Saints and then -- well, so much depends on the other teams" to determine the Giants' future in the playoffs.

This season, in which his team has won nine and lost six games, has restored all the faith Hoffman never admitted he lost.

"My favorite game was the one against Kansas City, where they were down 13 points with time running out. The Giants hadn't come back from that many points in years.

"People were heading for the stadium exits and I stood up and shouted at them, 'I haven't heard the fat lady sing yet.' But they were out in the parking lots when the Giants scored and won. A lot of people just don't have the faith."

This is the man who in October sat through the 31-10 shellacking that the San Francisco 49ers gave his team on a Monday night at the Meadowlands (which is actually in New Jersey, across the Hudson River from New York City) before turning his car southward on the Jersey Turnpike at 1 a.m. -- the man who got home at 5 o'clock that Tuesday morning, concerned only that "my roommate, who was with me, is a lawyer and had to be at work early the next morning."

"Think of Cubs fans for 39 years," he says by way of explaining his devotion.

"I don't consider people real fans because they like the Steelers for winning four Super Bowls. You want to talk real fans? Well, I drove 500 miles in the rain and sat through pouring rain for that game against St. Louis last year."

Hoffman, who, naturally, has season tickets to Giants' home games, declares that he will go anywhere to see his team in action.

"I have family in Boston, so when they play the Patriots, I can see the game," he said, "and I always go to the Redskins game with a friend who has season's tickets.

"And now that my father lives in L.A., I've had the chance to see the Giants play out there, although I haven't made it yet."

His car, previously registered in New York, has sported the NYG FAN plates since he moved to Virginia a couple of years ago.

He got to like the area during his student days at George Washington University, when he first began commuting north for Giants games.

While Hoffman doesn't remember exactly when his father started taking him to Giants games, he does know that "they had their last winning season for a while just before I started going."

That would have been in 1963, when the Giants were 11 and 3. In his first season as a fan (albeit a very young one), the Giants finished with 2 wins, 10 defeats and 2 ties, and two years later they had a single win to 12 losses and a tie. And those were just his formative seasons.

"People always ask: 'Why do the fans keep going?' They ask: 'Who are these idiots?'

"Well, the answer is that we're the real fans. It's not all bad, you know. We have Lawrence Taylor, who's the greatest player in football today. We have some young receivers who're pretty good."

"You know," he says simply, "I'm a real fan."