No announcement yet.


  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts








    Excerpt: "Patriots running back Stevan Ridley, normally used as a speedier change-of-pace
    back to spell BenJarvus Green-Ellis, knew why he was made inactive for the AFC
    Championship Game against the Baltimore Ravens.

    "Without a doubt (fumbling troubles) is what I would say," Ridley said
    today. Patriots coach Bill Belichick "didn't have to say it. The coaches hadn't
    said anything about it, to be honest, but I know as a player there's a reason
    why. I know what I did. When you go back and look at your game film and you look
    over yourself, you can find your mistakes if you're a good player."

    Ridley had a fumble in each of his last two games played before the AFC title
    game, which looks even worse when compared to Green-Ellis who has not fumbled
    once in his entire career (510 carries), which is an NFL record according to

    But on the bright side, Ridley told reporters he expects to be active against
    the Giants."


    "As his teammates gathered for another mandatory media session in their downtown
    Marriot, Osi
    Umenyiora wasn’t at the riser set aside for him
    . It was an unexcused absence
    and it didn’t take long before the NFL responded with a $20,000 fine.

    This afternoon, Umenyiora issued a statement through the team. Apparently, he
    had a mix-up with the itinerary.

    “I misunderstood the schedule,” Umenyiora said. It won’t happen again, and I
    will be at tomorrow’s media session and available after the game. I apologize
    for any inconvenience my absence this morning may have caused.”

    The Giants have another hour-long mandatory media session Thursday morning.
    And after the swift $20,000 fine, expect everyone on time and situated by their
    name tags ready for another barrage of questions."


    Excerpt: "

    Ever since Julian Edelman showed up on defense, especially when covering Anquan
    Boldin in the slot during last month's AFC Championship Game win over the
    Baltimore Ravens, the question has become whether or not he'll do it again this

    Giants wideout Victor Cruz didn't think it was the greatest idea, and
    Mario Manningham agreed. But as far as how Edelman will be deployed, New England
    Patriots head coach Bill Belichick wasn't providing any answers.

    will be ready to go on everything as he always is," he said. "Based on the game
    plan and how it goes, we'll see how that all turns out. He will be ready for all
    three phases."

    Edelman made one play against Boldin, but was picked on regularly by
    quarterback Joe Flacco when on defense."


    "Giants offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride said that Eli Manning was
    "embarrassed" about the abnormally high number of interceptions last season,
    which helped Manning embrace a more sensible philosophy this season.

    Part of the problem was the refusal to take sacks, which Gilbride went
    into a little bit during his media availability today:

    "We're going to
    make some plays, but stay away from the bad ones," he told Manning. "And if that
    means he has to take a sack, which he has loathed to do, now, he hates to do
    that, but if that's the best thing on that play, take it. Throw the ball away,
    do those things, and then you're going to make enough plays but when the
    situation is such -- the odds of you completing that pass (are bad) don't do

    The gaudy numbers this year. Manning finished the regular season
    with a career-high 4,933 passing yards *that demonstrated as much of an
    evolution as a necessity. Gilbride said that despite Tom Coughlin¹s desire for
    balance, Manning needed to step up in order to move the football.

    "If Tom had the perfect world we'd run it 30, we'd throw it 30 and we'd win
    14-12," Gilbride said."Sometimes it doesn't play out that way and sometimes you
    have to recognize that what are people doing defensively? Where's are best
    chance of moving the ball? And if we have to run it 50 times, that's fine with
    me, but if we have to throw it 50, whatever we gotta do."

    On top of
    complementing Manning's ability to get serious after pranking his wideouts and
    how he's the best student in the room.

    There's just one thing Gilbride
    wishes would stop: Eli throwing left handed.

    "I go crazy, it's foolish,
    it's stupid, you're asking for disaster," he said."³Don't do that, sometimes his
    instincts are so strong they just take over."


    "New England Patriots TE Rob
    Gronkowski (ankle)
    was the only member of the Patriots that did not
    participate in practice today, according to the team's injury report.

    Gronkowski sustained the ankle injury in the third quarter of the AFC
    Championship game two weeks ago and wore a walking boot until Monday.

    Gronkowski said that the team would decide tonight on a special shoe that he
    may wear on Sunday against the Giants
    that could help with support.

    LBs Dane Fletcher (thumb), Rob Ninkovich (hip), Brandon Spikes (knee), and
    Tracy White (abdomen); OL Marcus Cannon (ankle), Logan Mankins (knee), and
    Sebastian Vollmer (back/foot); S Patrick Chung (knee); receiver Wes Welker
    (knee); and DL Kyle Love (ankle)."


    "Matt Light missed practice Monday and Media Day Tuesday with an illness. The
    Patriots left tackle re-emerged today, healthy enough to both practice and dish
    out sarcasm as he addressed the rivalry between him and the Giants’ Osi

    The two have history, dating back to the 2007 season, and Umenyiora
    said last week they’ll “rekindle” it in Super Bowl XLVI

    “Can you have an individual rivalry?” said Light, who met with the media for
    the first time in Indianapolis this week. “I thought rivalries were maybe
    between teams in general. Hey, look, I’m ready to go out there and play whatever
    game I’ve got to play, we’ll have fun doing it. I’m not sure that comes with a
    personal level, though.”

    Umenyiora would say -- and
    has said
    -- otherwise. The pair traded shoves and shouts in the teams’ Week
    9 meeting this year. Umenyiora said last week that Light is the only person he’s
    ever fought on the football field. He explained, “It’s something he’s doing that
    really gets under my skin.”

    Light said he is not sure to what Umenyiora is referring.

    “I have a hard time understanding what my wife says to me on a daily basis,
    so I try not to read too much into anything.”

    Matt Light missed practice Monday and Media Day Tuesday with an illness. The
    Patriots left tackle re-emerged today, healthy enough to both practice and dish
    out sarcasm as he addressed the rivalry between him and the Giants’ Osi

    The two have history, dating back to the 2007 season, and Umenyiora
    said last week they’ll “rekindle” it in Super Bowl XLVI

    “Can you have an individual rivalry?” said Light, who met with the media for
    the first time in Indianapolis this week. “I thought rivalries were maybe
    between teams in general. Hey, look, I’m ready to go out there and play whatever
    game I’ve got to play, we’ll have fun doing it. I’m not sure that comes with a
    personal level, though.”

    Umenyiora would say -- and
    has said
    -- otherwise. The pair traded shoves and shouts in the teams’ Week
    9 meeting this year. Umenyiora said last week that Light is the only person he’s
    ever fought on the football field. He explained, “It’s something he’s doing that
    really gets under my skin.”

    Light said he is not sure to what Umenyiora is referring.

    “I have a hard time understanding what my wife says to me on a daily basis,
    so I try not to read too much into anything.”


    "After plopping in Section 209 for media day this morning, Kyle Dotson and Tricia
    Abbott wolf down two piles of concession-stand nachos, trying hard not to spill
    a drop of the melted cheese on their sweet threads — brand-spanking-new Giants jackets.

    Surrounded, wall-to-wall, by hookey-playing fans in Indianapolis Colts
    colors, these two are easy to spot in their shiny blue-and-red outfits and
    blaring Giants logos. Dotson concocts a tear-jerking story about boyhood heroes,
    like Phil Simms and Bill Parcells, and how he has loved the Giants practically
    since birth. But two minutes into the fairy tale, he comes clean.

    “We’re not really Giants fans,” he says. “We’re Colts fans.”

    So, why the get-up?

    “Because we’re anti-Patriot fans,” he says. “We hate the Patriots more than
    anything in the world. I bought this stuff to stick it to the obnoxious New
    England fans.”

    The price tag for the two windbreakers, Dotson’s Giants cap, two tickets to
    the day’s event at Lucas Oil Stadium and two orders of nachos? About 160 bucks —
    a lot of cash to make a point.

    “Yeah, but he’s a man of conviction,” Abbott says.

    Since the Giants’ arrival Monday, it has become obvious: Indianapolis belongs
    to them, at least until the planes, trains and automobiles — packed with all
    those Wes Welkah fans — arrive from Boston. It’s a love-hate thing: As much as
    Colts fans adore Peyton Manning’s little brother, they despise the Patriots,
    their AFC arch-enemy. This week, every horseshoe is an “ny” in disguise.

    •?• •

    With their headsets tuned into Eli Manning’s microphone, Section 228 erupts
    with laughter when Manning, about 100 yards away, tells a story about Peyton and
    him and bunk beds. For the first time in Super Bowl history, fans are attending
    media day.

    “We love you, Eli!” one female fan shouts.

    Hundreds applaud. There’s a pause.

    “Brady sucks!” someone else shouts.

    More laughter and more applause.

    Over chicken fingers in the stadium food court,

    LaReta Morrison, a Colts season-ticket holder for 15 years and her BFFs,
    Karen Johnson and Sandy Waldridge, pledge their rock-solid support to the
    Giants, albeit with a Monday expiration date. The reason for the loyalty oath is

    “The Patriots coach and quarterback are jerks,” Morrison says. “We would be
    rooting for anyone who’s playing against the Pats.”
    Jack Joyce, 8, skipped
    lunch, recess and math class — “Mrs. Gangstad said it was okay” — to let
    everyone know he’s rooting for the Giants. Mention the Patriots, and he makes a
    sour face.

    The city’s motto has changed from “Hoosier friendly” to “Who’s your enemy?”
    Fans here hold a grudge, and they say that when the Colts beat the Patriots in
    the AFC Championship Game in 2006, many of the Patriots — including coach Bill
    Belichick — bolted the field without shaking hands. Plus, they say, Patriots
    players talk trash and think they’re so special.

    And then there was that time they got caught cheating ...

    “Jerks,” says Scott Owens, whose Colts outfit includes a cone-shaped hat
    signed by some of his favorite players and a horseshoe tattoo above his right
    elbow. “We despise Tom Brady and the Patriots. They’re not good sports. They
    don’t shake hands. They spy on other teams.

    “They think they’re gods. Look, you’re pro athletes. You make millions of
    dollars for playing a game. You’re the luckiest people in the world. Why act
    like that? Go, Giants!”

    •?• •

    With media day over, Treva Shipps and Judy Dailey, grandmas in Colts jerseys,
    debate on the way out.

    “We hate the Patriots,” Shipps says.

    “No, we don’t hate them,” Dailey says.

    “Oh, no, we hate them all right.”

    “Because they’re tough competition.”

    “No, because they’re (jerks),” Shipps says.

    The fans don’t get along, either. Patriots supporter Jim Wendling says he has
    “never felt welcome” in Indianapolis, even though he comes to every
    Patriots-Colts game here. His son, Dalton, recalls getting trampled when he was
    8, and his mother, Tiffany, says she went “all Jersey Shore” on a Colts fan who
    once spilled a beer on the kid.

    But it’s clear, Wendling says, “we’re going to be outnumbered this week — by
    a lot.” He adds, “But that’s the price you pay for being so good.”

    And so disliked.

    When Giants coach Tom Coughlin took the podium Monday, he thanked
    Indianapolis for its hospitality and encouraged Colts fans to “become Giants
    fans and support the Giants.”

    What he was really saying was this: “Look, we know you hate the Pats, so root
    for us.”


    "Jacquian Williams stood in his Giants
    uniform amid the throng of reporters from all corners of the globe. This wasn’t
    the scene the rookie linebacker imagined his first time at Lucas Oil Stadium to

    He once pictured auditioning in front of scouts in a variety of benchmark
    drills with the hopes of impressing an NFL club enough to use a draft pick on

    But he wasn’t invited to the NFL Scouting Combine last February. Instead, he
    was on the Lucas Oil Stadium turf for Super Bowl Media Day where his injured
    foot has become the subject of one of the spectacle’s most prominent storylines.

    “This is crazy,” Williams said Tuesday.

    “To be here for the Super Bowl my first year is amazing. I’m just trying to
    enjoy it.”

    Williams, a sixth-round pick in April and one of four rookie linebackers on
    the roster, wasn’t the only member of the Giants’ large 12-man rookie class to
    be overlooked by the talent evaluators. Fellow rookies Spencer Paysinger, Justin
    Trattou and Brandon Bing — who is on the practice squad — weren’t invited.

    “Probably right around here, they were running their 40s and everything,”
    said Oregon product Paysinger, pointing to corner of the field. “Just knowing
    that this is where a lot of people got their jobs and to know I went a
    completely different route, but I’m at a setting where a lot of people aren’t
    that made it, it’s truly a blessing.”

    Another, starting fullback Henry Hynoski, suffered a hamstring injury early
    in the combine and couldn’t participate for the majority of it. As a result, his
    stock plummeted and he went undrafted out of Pittsburgh.

    “It’s just full circle,” Hynoski said. “It just goes to show if you work hard
    and persevere the right things will happen for you.”

    Hynoski is one of four undrafted rookie free agents on the Giants active
    roster. Five others were drafted in the fourth round or later, and the team’s
    top draft picks have not had the impact many anticipated. Cornerback Prince
    Amukamara missed the preseason and the first nine games of the regular season
    due to a broken foot. And defensive tackle Marvin Austin was placed on the
    injury reserve list during training camp after tearing his pectoral muscle.

    The underappreciated group has picked up the slack, making an impact on both
    sides of the ball and special teams throughout the season. Five of the 11 on the
    active roster have started on offense or defense at one point in addition to
    special teams.

    It has all come after an offseason without contact with the team due to the
    lockout, which forced the undrafted players to wait around all summer before
    signing on in late July.

    “If it wasn’t for Jacquian, we might still be playing against San Francisco,”
    cornerback Aaron Ross said with a smile, a nod to Williams’ forced fumble that
    set up the winning field goal. “They’re making a huge impact, especially on the
    special teams side of the ball, so we need them.”

    Ross himself was a rookie in a Super Bowl against the New England Patriots
    when the Giants advanced this far in 2008. He is one of three players — along
    with running back Ahmad Bradshaw and long snapper Zak DeOssie — from that 2007
    draft class still on the roster and they’ve given this year’s rookies some

    “I just told them to stay focused,” Bradshaw said. “This is a
    once-in-a-lifetime thing and just to have fun with it.”
    The rookies
    understand players go through entire careers without an opportunity to play in a
    Super Bowl, so doing it their first year is a rare feat.

    “I’m actually happy the way things worked the way they did,” the undrafted
    Hynoski said, “because I’m the starting fullback for a team playing in the Super
    Bowl. It’s unbelievable.”


    "Victor Cruz has never stepped into a dance studio for salsa lessons, never
    laced up any dance shoes. He just feels the music, moving his hips and feet to
    the rhythms of the congas and timbales like his grandmother taught him.

    “When I was young, she would just grab me up every chance she could and she
    would teach me how to do the dance,” Cruz said.

    Abuela and nieto — grandmother and grandson — doing their
    thing, creating a memory he cherishes to this day, especially when he scores a
    touchdown as a
    Giants wide receiver.

    He had no idea — and who would? — that the Latin motions he picked up in the
    kitchen and living room would one day be his signature NFL dance that drives
    people nuts.

    “It’s a tribute to her, a person who was an influence in my life,” he

    The Giants' fan base looks for the
    kid from Paterson to not only score, but to break out with some salsa, a new end
    zone celebration that is as popular and memorable as others over the years.

    Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers does the “Championship Belt,” where he
    mimics putting an invisible belt around his waist. Receiver Chad Johnson (now
    Ochocinco) did several celebrations, including his version of the Riverdance, in
    2005 when he was with the Cincinnati Bengals.

    In the 1970s and ’80s, Oilers fans got a bang out of wide receiver Billy
    “White Shoes” Johnson, who did the “Funky Chicken.” Oh, and we can’t forget the
    “Ickey Shuffle” by Cincinnati running back Ickey Woods, or the 1980s Redskins
    and the “Fun Bunch.”

    Well, salsa has made its mark in a big way. And if Cruz scores Sunday, as
    he’s done nine times this season, you’ll see salsa make its Super Bowl debut at
    the expense of the New England Patriots.

    Giants fans are itching for Cruz to wax his freestyle on the Pats, because he
    hasn’t crossed the goal line in three playoff games. Many Giants faithful
    recently packed the Times Square Modell’s to see Cruz and scoop up his T-shirt
    that was on sale.

    They clamored all over the rising NFL star, getting him to sign the back of
    their shirts and take pictures. And for at least a minute or two, he briefly did
    some salsa with dance instructors from Balmir Latin Dance Studio in Brooklyn.

    The instructors, Krystal Nieves and Samer Sino, were doing basic salsa
    footwork, changing it up with some side steps to the left and right for flavor.
    Cruz watched them for a moment, then jumped in when he found the beat. He was
    with them step-for-step until he slipped into his own flow.

    “He has the old-school, home-style salsa that you learn growing up with your
    family,” Nieves said. “He could use a little work. With some lessons, he would
    be really good.”

    Fans in the store loved it, even the ones who missed their favorite

    That would be Benny Ocasio and Rachel Zas of Union City. They are bananas
    over Cruz, having finagled their way past the cops who weren’t letting any more
    people in the sporting goods store. By the time they got in, Cruz had just left
    through a back entrance, but Ocasio, a salsera in her own right, said
    she would love to show Cruz a thing or two on the dance floor. For now, she’ll
    just settle on watching him salsa in the end zone.

    “I think it’s nice touch,” she said.

    Cruz says he’s blown away by the excitement the dance has caused. He was just
    doing it for fun when he got his first start against the Eagles. He said his
    grandmother loved it and he’s been doing it ever since. For those who don’t know
    how to dance or would like to, Cruz has some simple advice:

    “Stay loose, have fun with it,” he said. “As long as you’re moving your hips
    and moving your feet and having a good time, that’s all that matters.”


    "Go ahead, let your imagination wander, he’s done it himself. In his mind’s eye —
    between every leg press, every cardio workout, every pool exercise, every yoga
    pose — he still sees No. 87 tapping the ball to himself in the end zone against
    the St. Louis Rams, and each time Domenik Hixon reminds himself of one thing:

    An ordinary receiver doesn’t make that play.

    An average guy doesn’t score TDs like that — not by leaping over a defender,
    having a throw bounce off his shoulder, planting his leg hard enough to tear a
    knee ligament, and double-tapping the end-over-end football into the palm of his
    right hand as he rolls his way into an ESPY nomination.

    A guy who makes that kind of play is destined for ... what, a breakout year?
    A special year? A Victor Cruz-like year?

    “Coming back from the previous injury — feeling faster, catching the ball
    better, knowing the offense — I felt everything was falling in line,” Hixon
    says, recalling the moment he tore his right ACL for the second time in 15
    months. “I was confident that I was back to 100 percent.”

    Could he make that judgment in Week 2? Sure. An athlete knows. You only have
    to revisit that catch — among the very best of the 2011 season — to understand.
    Hixon was on his way.

    Then, about 24 hours later, we learned that the reward for this TD was
    another shredded ligament, another surgery, and another six to eight months in

    Nobody ever said this game was fair.

    But we can say this: The unique nature of this game is how it can act as a
    petri dish for the examination of the human soul. So we made it a point to take
    our 2012 Tour of the industrial heartland through a local gym just outside of
    Columbus, to reacquaint ourselves with one of the biggest hearts you’ll find
    inside a blue jersey.

    Is Hixon bitter? Not in the least. Is he snakebit? On the contrary, the Giants’ receiver is grateful for everything
    he has, even if he’ll be a mere spectator Sunday in Indianapolis.

    Is he perplexed by this absurd twist of fate? That’s another matter.

    This is a team guy. But let’s be frank: If he gets out of Week 2 without a
    scratch, he remains Eli Manning’s No. 3 target behind Mario Manningham and
    Hakeem Nicks — if not climbing the charts with a bullet.

    Which also means, one may surmise, that we may never have become acquainted
    with the
    new star of this show, Victor Cruz.

    “I’ve thought of that,” Hixon admitted with a nod, after a two-hour workout
    the other day.

    “I’ve always said, when I go to schools and talk to kids, ‘You have to take
    advantage of opportunities.’ If (Drew) Bledsoe never gets hurt, maybe we never
    hear of Tom Brady. Injuries are part of the game, and a lot of people come

    He has one word to describe Cruz’s astral-like explosion into prominence:
    “Awesome,” he said.

    “The thing I think about, if I’m still there, is how much more open
    Manningham and I would be — because now they have to double-team everybody. But
    he’s been awesome, along with Hakeem (Nicks). It’s something I want to be a part
    of, and look forward to.”

    The interesting part to all this: We didn’t come here looking for envy,
    really, because the enduring lesson of sport is that seasons, careers, and lives
    can turn on one play.

    But Hixon, 27, taught us a lesson about how hideous luck can be a mere
    inconvenience, when you’re mature enough to understand priorities.

    “We never heard a word of complaint from him — not after the first time he
    tore it, or the second time — and a lot of it was related to what was happening
    around here,” explained his dad, Marvin, a cop in the city of Columbus. “Because
    at the time he was injured, my wife was still dealing with breast cancer, and
    that weighed on his mind far more than his knee.”

    Indeed, the first time Marvin had a chance to console his son was on the
    phone. Domenik interrupted him immediately: “I have no reason to feel sorry for
    myself, Dad,” he told Marvin. “Not with the stuff that Mom is going

    •?• •

    Birgit Hixon is fine now. She endured surgery, and then chemotherapy, which
    ended exactly seven days after her son tore ACL-II. Yet throughout their
    concurrent ordeals, her well-being was the only issue in his life.

    “She was diagnosed in the spring, when I was coming back from my first knee
    injury,” Domenik said. “And when I look at her now, that’s more inspiration than
    anyone else can give me. She shows me you can come back from anything.”

    Lost season? It’s all house money, is how he sees it.

    Monitoring his rehab stint was Milan Smith, 12 years his senior, and one of
    Hixon’s former coaches at Whitehall-Yearling High School. Milan smiles like a
    big brother when he talks about him — which he is, basically — and says, “If
    anything defines what Dom is like, it’s the perspective he’s taken into this

    Smith was the first guy Hixon called after he was told the ligament had been
    retorn, and he’ll never forget the conversation.

    “It was like he was talking about ... the weather,” Smith recalls. “It was
    like, ‘If this is what God has for me, we just go back at it again, and we’ve
    got to work harder at it this time. Now, I’m getting ready for surgery, I’ll see
    you in two months for rehab, and we’ll get ready to go to work.

    “It was never, ‘Woe is me,’ never once did you hear ‘God is unfair,’ or ‘Life
    sucks.’ Not once.”

    Smith paused to laugh out loud: “And he never, ever said, ‘Victor wouldn’t be
    eatin’ if I were in there.’ It was more like, ‘Man, if I were there, we’d all be
    eatin’ right now.’”

    So that’s your receiver in rehab. He’s one of the kids you root for, not
    because he’s got a great family and an interesting name (by the way, it’s
    pronounced “Dominique, but he’s too polite to correct anybody,” his dad says),
    but because we all know that the game owes him one.

    Or two, actually.

    “I’m off to Indianapolis Thursday — I talked to (middle linebacker Jonathan)
    Goff, we’ll meet up, grab dinner, hang out, and have our ACL Anonymous meeting,”
    Hixon said with a chuckle. “It’s a blessing to be a part of it.”


    "Jerry Reese was sitting almost alone in the south end-zone seats at Lucas Oil
    Stadium today, about 10 rows above and another 20 or so yards away from Super
    Bowl XLVI Media Day, where Victor Cruz was seated on a riser.

    “People call it lucky. I say we got blessed with the situation. I’d rather
    frame it that way,” the Giants’ general
    manager said of the franchise’s new single-season receiving leader, once an
    overlooked undrafted free agent. “I’m happy for the kid. He’s a local,
    afterthought free agent and now he’s got a podium out there.

    “That’s beautiful, man. You can’t make that up.”

    The Giants aren’t here, preparing for Sunday’s game against the New England
    Patriots, if not for Cruz. That much can’t be made up, either.

    And Cruz isn’t here if not for a few unnamed members of the Giants’ front
    office. Also a fact.

    Put simply: Cruz was almost waived when the Giants trimmed their roster to 53
    players in September 2010. Put even more bluntly: For a few minutes, he was
    waived with the hope he’d go unclaimed and land on the Giants’ practice squad.
    But a few of the decision-makers that day reversed a decision that could’ve had
    a huge impact on this Super Bowl season following the loss of wide receiver
    Steve Smith.

    At least that’s been the rumor the past 17 months, a rumbling one of Cruz’s
    alleged rescuers confirmed to The Star-Ledger today for the first time.

    “He was saved by some upper-echelon Giants front-office people,” senior vice
    president of player evaluation Chris Mara said. “I’ll put it that way.”

    And apparently more than once.

    “It’s no big secret he was on the bubble both years,” Mara said. “That
    happens a lot. Look at (James) Harrison from Pittsburgh. He got cut (four)

    Good point. Continue.

    “He wouldn’t have made it to the practice squad,” Mara said, indicating a
    team would’ve claimed Cruz. “I mean, was it a matter of him maybe playing in a
    Jet uniform?”

    Or in any uniform, for that matter.

    “No,” Mara interjected to emphasize his point. “I said in a Jet uniform.”

    Ah. We’re all caught up now.

    In 2010, the Giants had some tough decisions to make at final cuts, as every
    team does every year. They cut veteran receiver Derek Hagan, only to bring him
    back later in the season after they placed Cruz and Ramses Barden on injured

    The Giants would’ve preferred to stash Cruz on the practice squad while he
    made the adjustment from UMass to the NFL. But his three-touchdown performance
    against the Jets in the preseason opener,
    the film that came with it and a quote from Rex Ryan all combined to save his
    Giants career.

    “I hope they cut him,” Ryan said after Cruz torched his backup defensive
    backs. “I know one team that would be ready to sign him, and that’d be us.”

    Imagine for a moment Cruz’s 99-yard touchdown coming for the Jets and not
    against them. Think of him doing a salsa in front of Fireman Ed. Consider, if
    you can, whether Mark Sanchez would be here now while Tom Coughlin was
    potentially out of a job and Reese was under scrutiny infinitely worse than what
    he experienced in August when he let Smith and Kevin Boss walk.

    Wonder no more.

    Lucky? Blessed? Whatever. Cruz is a Giant despite a few times when he almost

    “We really weren’t sure what we had with him (in 2010), and this past
    preseason he really didn’t do that much. We were still wondering, ‘Is this that
    guy we saw a year ago or not?’” Reese said. “And then, there was some discussion

    Translation: about whether to keep him or not.

    “... and he ends up staying on the roster and gets out there. And the first
    pass of the season thrown to him, he dropped it, so we’re still not sure about
    the guy. ‘Who is this guy?’”

    He was a hard-working guy from Paterson who put in extra film work before the
    lockout, attended Eli Manning’s Hoboken workouts during the NFL’s work stoppage
    and proved the jobs held by Reese, Mara and the rest of the front office are
    extremely difficult because the 53rd man on the roster (or, briefly, the unlucky
    54th) can become a record-setting player.

    “Anytime there’s a guy who’s come relatively from nowhere, to climb up and
    really work hard and do what you have to do (shows) a tremendous effort from
    me,” said Cruz, who had 1,536 receiving yards in the regular season and has
    added 244 yards in the playoffs. “It’s definitely a unique situation and one
    I’ll definitely cherish for the rest of my career.”

    A career that almost led him elsewhere.

    “That’s the beauty of personnel,” Reese said. “You draft guys high and
    sometimes you get guys as free agents and all of a sudden the free agent throws
    up a Hall of Fame career at you. We’ve seen that happen many times.”

    Reese added, “To us, the last guy on the roster is important. We don’t just
    willy-nilly anybody. You just can’t come off the street and get on the roster,
    If you’re on our roster, we think you have some ability.

    “And Victor has far exceeded any expectation.”


    "Antrel Rolle is playing in his second Super Bowl, this one with the Giants, and
    the safety plans on winning this time.

    “We’re going to win this thing,” Rolle said at Media Day today at Lucas Oil
    Stadium. “We’re going to win this thing for a lot of good reasons.”

    Rolle expressed his confidence several other times. The Giants are “not going
    to be denied,” he said. He also said the team is going to “go out there and take
    care of business, and it will be done.”

    But later asked if he guaranteed a win, Rolle balked at the suggestion.

    “I didn’t say we’re going to win, I said we’re going to go out there and do
    whatever it takes to win,” Rolle said. “I didn’t guarantee anything

    Rolle was on the losing end of Super Bowl XLIII, when the Steelers beat the

    The Giants were at one point 7-7, but when they beat the Jets in Week 16,
    Rolle said that was the turning point for his team.

    “There was a lot of trash talk throughout the week, and we just said, ‘We’ll
    let our play do the talking for us,’ ” Rolle said. “And we got hit with a lot
    that game. I think there was some outrageous calls that game where things could
    have been overturned, and I think they were definitely getting fed the biscuit
    that game.”

    Rolle meant that the referees were giving favorable calls to the “home” Jets.
    One questionable call in particular was when Jason Pierre-Paul looked to strip
    quarterback Mark Sanchez after beating left tackle D’Brickashaw Ferguson -- but
    a challenge by Ryan reversed the call. Afterward, coach Tom Coughlin said “we’re
    going to have to revisit the ‘tuck rule.’”

    “But no matter what was going our way, we weren’t going to let it change the
    way we were going to play,” Rolle said. “We didn’t let it change our mentality,
    and we didn’t let it change our fight, and I think that’s where we grew as a
    team mentally. Not so much physically but mentally. We understood at that point,
    no matter what is going our way, we won’t get sidetracked and we won’t get

    Rolle said the trash talk from the Jets didn’t mean much to him but he did
    make it clear that the Giants silenced their cross-town rivals.

    “No matter what is being said, the game has to be played on Sunday,” Rolle
    said. “You can’t talk with your mouth. You can only go out there and put your
    pads on and let your pads to the talking. And I think we solved


    "The Giants’ superstitious ways are no secret. From their Christmas tree in
    the practice facility’s lobby throughout their playoff run to individual quirks,
    the team is as superstitious as they come.

    So when rookie tackle James Brewer got off the Giants team plane Monday with
    a huge teddy bear in hand, like he had just come home from the carnival, it was
    just another talisman for a team full of them.

    It was a potentially embarrassing image for the 6-6, 325-pound offensive
    lineman, but Brewer was happy -- even honored -- to do it.

    The bear became fellow tackle Kareem McKenzie's good luck charm back in 2007
    as the Giants made their improbable run to Super Bowl XLII and it called
    McKenzie's locker home this season. It has also gone on the team's road trips so
    leaving it home wasn’t an option.

    "In 2007 they brought the bear to every game, including the Super Bowl in
    Arizona when we beat the Patriots," Brewer said. "The veterans gave me the task
    of carrying the bear here. It's a good luck charm kind of thing."

    Not only is Brewer enjoying a Super Bowl as a rookie, he’s doing it in his
    hometown. Brewer attended Arlington High School for his senior year and played
    football for the first time there. Despite the limited experience he showed
    enough potential to earn a scholarship to Indiana.

    He turned that into a solid college career and a fourth-round selection in
    April’s draft. He’s been inactive for every game this season and will almost
    certainly be inactive on Sunday, but the Giants viewed him as a long-term
    project when they drafted him.

    Now he’s just happy to experience a Super Bowl back home.

    “For me, I’ve been blessed to be in a position where one -- to be in a Super
    Bowl, and two -- to be back home for that Super Bowl,” he said. “So I couldn’t
    ask for anything more than I have right here.”


    "-- Mario
    Manningham told the Boston Herald last week he hopes to see Julian Edelman

    out there on defense. That sort of had a negative connotation to it, so today
    Manningham tried to clarify.

    “It’s not like that. I respect him as a player, I understand that he’s a good
    player,” the Giants’ wide receiver said during a Media Day session with
    reporters. “He plays wide receiver and defensive back. I don’t take anything
    from him but he plays offense.

    “So I know he’s a competitive player, but I’m going to try to win. No matter
    who lines up in front of me, I’m going to try to win.”

    Okay, easy enough of a clarification. Moving on. …

    Wait, hang on.

    "It’s not just me, but us as a receiving corps," Manningham said when asked
    about "exposing" Edelman in the secondary. "We know he’s a great player, but we
    want to go out and do what we have to do to win. No matter what it takes.

    “He plays wide receiver. He’s not a real defensive back. Did he get drafted
    as a defensive back? We have a little bond going on knowing that we can beat
    somebody. We’re confident. I hope he’s out there.”

    So much for softening his stance. And so much for what he tries to accomplish
    here in this next quote.

    “I don’t really want to say anything more about him. We’ll see on Sunday,”
    Manningham said when asked if Edelman can cover the slot receiver. “Do you think
    he can?”

    * * * *

    While we’re on the subject of trash talk, why don’t we double
    back with DE Osi Umenyiora, who said he and Pats LT Matt Light will
    their rivalry on Sunday.

    “He just does all of that extra pushing and tries to hit you over the pile
    and stuff like that,” Umenyiora said. “But at the end of the day, I’m not paying
    any attention to that anymore. We’re just going to go out there and play and
    that’s just going to be the end of it.”

    No more fighting?

    “Nah, not at all. Not on this stage,” Umenyiora said. “I don’t think it’s
    going to be a situation with us fighting or doing anything crazy like that.
    We’re just going to play good, solid football.”

    Light was not at Media Day. He was excused by the team and the NFL because
    he’s sick.

    “He’ll be okay,” Umenyiora said. “A little cold, a little flu, that’s nothing
    compared to what most of us have to play with. I think he’ll be okay.”

    * * * *

    We wrote
    for today’s paper on the Giants’ business-like approach upon landing here

    and how it differed from the way they stomped onto this stage four years

    “The 2007 team was just playing,” RB Brandon Jacobs said. “We knew we had a
    terrible season and we had a last opportunity to take advantage of and made the
    playoffs. But all along, during those playoffs, we were just playing.

    “We didn’t really know then. This team knows we can come out here and do
    this. … We worked super-hard to get here and we’re going to try to finish this
    thing off.”


    Excerpt: "Perry Fewell knows he wants to be a head coach, but was not worried when he
    didn't receive any offers during the recent hiring binge around the league.

    Fewell thinks that if the Buccaneers, Rams, Jaguars, Raiders, Colts or
    Dolphins called, he would not have interviewed in order to stay focused on the
    defense through this playoff stretch.

    "You know what? I was so focused on
    helping us win that I probably would have said no," he said. "I really wanted
    this for our football team, this team has come through a lot this year, we grew
    a lot together this year, I wasn't going to be selfish okay? And sometimes you
    have to not look at yourself and you think about the team and I thought about
    the team in this situation."


    "Rodney Harrison said there's no hard feelings with his former Patriots teammates
    now that he's in a position to criticize as an NBC commentator.

    understand, he says, and they know he's rooting for them.

    But Harrison
    doesn't seem that confident. When asked if the Patriots have enough on the back
    end to cover the Giants trio of wide receivers, he had this to say:

    a consistent basis? No. They're going to have to step up and you're going to
    have to have guys like Sterling Moore and (Kyle) Arrington play outside of
    themselves and they're going to have to play well."

    Harrison blamed the
    issues in part on former Rutgers product Devin McCourty, who made the Pro Bowl
    in his inaugural season after picking off seven passes and forcing two

    This year, his numbers have been down considerably, to which
    Harrison blames mental mistakes.

    "Devin McCourty, he's a player, if he focuses in, he has the ability to be an
    elite cornerback in this league. But when I watch film on him, it's the little
    things he does wrong *-- it's being outside technique when he should be inside.
    It's being inside when he should be outside, peeking in the backfield, those
    little things keep you from being an elite player, a consistent player and from
    getting beat," Harrison said.

    During their last matchup, neither Victor
    Cruz nor Mario Manningham had more than 100 yards receiving, due partly to the
    fact that Hakeem Nicks was sitting out with a hamstring injury.

    But if
    there's any chance to replicate that performance with Nicks in play, Harrison
    said, they will have to avoid those same mistakes that continue to show up on
    film each week.

    "This is a time for the Patriots to really come
    together," he said, "not blow the coverages and have the miscommunications
    they've had in the past and if they do that, I think they can compete and stay
    right there with the Giants."


    Excerpt: "Over on, Globe columnist Bob Ryan puts the Giants
    in a "truly balanced" category among NFL playoff teams, the only one to fall
    under that title.

    Ryan writes in hindsight, it's "very obvious the Giants had more going for
    them than anyone" and the 9-7 record overshadowed just how good they were.

    Here are some other Super Bowl links that Giants fans may find

    • Bill Barnwell of takes a look at — and gives insight into —
    of the gambling prop bets available for the Super Bowl.
    If you think the
    Giants will blow out the Patriots, you could win a lot of money. And for the
    truly hardcore degenerates, heads or tails on the coin toss?" Read more...




    Defensive end Osi Umenyiora, a
    chronic violator of the NFL’s Media Policy, was smacked with a $20,000 fine by
    the NFL for skipping the Giants’ second mandatory media session on Wednesday

    Every one of the Giants’ players and coaches, including every member of the
    practice squad, was in attendance for the 45-minute session in side the Giants'
    team hotel. The Patriots had full attendance at their session earlier in the
    morning, too.

    Umenyiora, however, apparently remained back in his hotel room, which was a
    direct violation of league rules.

    The Giants did not offer an explanation for his absence, though a spokesman
    said that it was not injury related and that Umenyiora was on time for a 12:15
    p.m. team meeting. He is also expected to practice this afternoon when the
    Giants take the field at the University of Indianapolis.

    Umenyiora has been threatened with fines several times by the NFL during the
    last two regular seasons for not speaking to reporters either during the
    practice week or after games. This is believed to be the first time he’s
    actually been fined."


    "Dealing with trash talk is nothing new for the Patriots.

    Playing in the same division as Rex Ryan and the Jets,
    they are bombarded weekly with bold statements and grandiose predictions.
    Through it all, for the most part, the Pats have stood stoic above the fray,
    adhering to the cliche: We do our talking on Sundays.

    But after a regular-season of bombast from their most heated rivals, followed
    by promises this week from Brandon Jacobs and
    Antrel Rolle that
    Giants will win Super Bowl XLVI, doesn't all of the big talking start getting to
    the Patriots?

    "The Jets? We know they are full of hot air, so we see where they are right
    now," said guard Logan Mankins.
    "I would love to say something at times, but the Giants haven't said anything
    that offends me."

    Pats defensive line coach Pepper Johnson, who
    played on some brash Giants teams under Bill Parcells in the
    '80s and '90s, calls the current Giants' talk "gibberish."

    "Lots of times when guys are talking, they're trying to pump themselves,
    trying to get their name mentioned, they want their name bolder in the papers,"
    said Johnson, who starred on two Giants Super Bowl teams in 1986 and 1990.
    "We're not like that. The game is won out on the football field and not in
    predictions. To me, you're just talking to be talking, to hear yourself talk.
    The rest of the stuff all in between is just gibberish."

    This week, Tom Brady drifted as far
    into trash-talk land as the Patriots ever do when he told fans at the team's
    send off that he hoped to see them all at their victory party. That is the
    exception, however - and according to his players, exactly how Bill Belichick wants

    "We don't worry about that. We take all the comments, we listen to them, and
    just put them in the back of our minds before we go out there and play," said
    former Jet and current Pats defensive end Shaun
    . "I never got into words in the media. To me they are just words. You
    can talk a lot in the papers, but you get on the field and you're getting beat,
    then it all don't hold up."

    Still, even the Patriots are human.

    "I kind of grit my teeth with it," said safety Patrick Chung. "We're
    not here to talk. You hear it, it burns in your chest a little bit, but it is
    what it is."



    Excerpt: "It was the spring of 2010 and they were roommates at a Meadowlands hotel for
    more than a month, a couple of undrafted free agents, telling each other at
    night what they were going to do with the Giants if they ever got a chance. Nate
    was a defensive lineman out of Virginia, Victor Cruz was a wide
    receiver out of UMass, a couple of dreamers trying to make it through Organized
    Team Activities, known as OTAs, and rookie mini-camps, make it to training camp
    in Albany and then somehow into the big time.

    “Yeah, we talked about our dreams every single night when we’d get back to
    the room,” Nate Collins was saying Tuesday, with the Jaguars now, having gone
    there from the Giants’ practice squad. “We’d sit there at night and Vic and I,
    we’d map out how we were gonna get to where we wanted to go.

    “Any young guy in the league who tells you he doesn’t do the same thing is
    lying. You look at the competition and say, ‘If I get a chance, I’m better than
    this guy.’ Or, ‘I’m better than that guy.’ Then you just hope you’ll get a
    chance to prove it.”


    Tuesday, Nate Collins said, “Vic got his chance, and then he just showed the
    whole world how good he really is. He’s the kind of guy who gives us all hope.
    He’s the guy playing for all the dreamers in the world on Sunday.”

    Nate Collins comes out of Port Chester, N.Y., played high school basketball
    at The King School in Stamford, Conn., spent enough time in our house in those
    years that he is still considered a member of our family. This season he scored
    his first professional touchdown, recovering a fumble in the end zone.

    Now he watches his friend Victor Cruz — without whom the Giants don’t have a
    game on Sunday night against the Patriots — try to go from their OTAs in the
    spring of 2010 and the mini-camps, all the places where undrafted kids try to
    show what they can do, to Super Bowl XLVI against the Patriots. Now Victor Cruz,
    who wanted his chance, gets a chance to show the whole world what he can do.

    Nate Collins said, “I told him the other day, ‘Dude, you gotta salsa in the
    Super Bowl.’ ”

    Sometimes at night, Collins said Tuesday, he and Cruz would play “FIFA World
    Cup” on Xbox. You can let the goal scorers in that game have almost any kind of
    celebration, including salsa dances. So they would compete against each other in
    the video game and have their scorers do crazy dances after goals. Then came the
    day, of course, when Nate Collins saw his friend catch a touchdown pass for the
    Giants and do a salsa dance that has made the kid from Paterson (N.J.) Catholic
    as much the face of this Giants season as anybody." Read more...


    "Room 109 at Our Lady of Holy Angels convent, a community of Franciscan
    sisters living atop a snowy hill at the end of a winding, wooded path, doubles
    as the headquarters of Giants linebacker Mark Herzlich’s fan

    Framed photographs featuring the rookie in an array of haircuts — ranging
    from the current Mohawk to bald during his battle with cancer — decorate the
    door, two walls and a wooden bookshelf.

    “I would have more gear if it
    wasn’t for my vow of poverty,” says Sister Barbara
    Anne Hallman
    , an irascible 70-something and colon cancer survivor.


    Hallman, a daughter of the Great Depression, commenced a
    pen-pal relationship with Herzlich when she read about his diagnosis with
    Ewing’s Sarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer, in May of 2009, penning inspiring
    missives in flowing script. She borrowed stationery from neighboring nuns, never
    writing on the same background twice and stamped her messages with hopeful
    images from nature.

    Last week, she sent the most recent correspondence as
    the Giants prepared for Super Bowl XLVI against the Patriots:

    that we have more Giant fans here than ever before! Welcome to Indiana! We will
    be watching you and rooting for you, My Football Man!

    Love and

    Sr. Barbara

    “She’s been unbelievable and I’ve relied on her words,”
    says Herzlich, whose German surname translates to “heartwarming.” “I love her
    outside perspective.”

    Hallman takes one stand as an insider. She insists
    Giants coach Tom Coughlin
    play Herzlich, who was cleared to return after missing five games with an ankle

    “If Mark is not in the game by halftime, I will not hesitate to
    call and complain,” she says.

    Sister Barbara Anne casts a wide net when
    it comes to tracking the linebacker’s progress. A Google Alert is set on her
    computer to keep her abreast of any mentions on the Internet. Her profile
    picture on Facebook features her, in a habit, gazing up at him following his
    first game back on the field at Boston College in August of 2010. After she met
    him the first time at Notre Dame Stadium, six miles from the convent, he sent
    flowers. When he reached the Super Bowl she posted on her Facebook wall a

    I am excited that My Football Man’s team, the Giants, is
    going to the Super Bowl. What more could Mark ask for? He deserves every
    blessing he receives!

    She allows that she has reached “groupie”
    level of love.

    “I think he and his family realize I’m not your typical
    nun,” she says.

    Her interests are unconventional in the community. “The
    Girl With the Dragon Tattoo,” an international bestseller, sits in a basket on
    her walker. She has been known to be late for Mass when Notre Dame football
    games run into overtime. Last week, she stood in a sporting goods store and eyed
    a Giants sweatshirt. She took it down from the rack and fingered the fabric, but
    eventually decided that she could not afford it.

    “Would have blown my
    whole budget,” she says, noting that she receives $30 per month.

    and faith intersect in the quiet hallways. Sister Lois wrestles with her
    fanaticism when Notre Dame plays. Former Irish QB Brady Quinn has
    visited. One wide receiver told the community that he says several Hail Mary
    prayers when he is running his route.

    “Oh, we loved him,” she says. “Big
    fans of that answer.”

    On Monday, Father Jim, the chaplain, dressed in his
    brown friar robe with rope tied around his waist, sat at a table in the
    cafeteria and asked Sister Geraldine a question.

    “Have you all gotten
    your Super Bowl bets in?” he said.

    Hallman learned the value of writing
    clearly in grade school. Her father, Eugene, worked three jobs, including
    positions at the post office and bowling alley in Farmington, Mich., and raised
    seven children, instructing them to leave homework assignments on the kitchen
    table before going to bed so he could review them for presentation. If the
    penmanship was sloppy, he tore up the papers and demanded the children re-write
    in the morning.

    “Never argue with an idiot. They will only bring you down to their level and beat you with experience.” MB Rule # 1

  • #2

    Thanks RF. All the articles on victor Cruz what a story this young man has become.


    • #3

      [quote user="nygsb42champs"]Thanks RF. All the articles on victor Cruz what a story this young man has become.[/quote]

      Yes, I agree. But there are so many personal stories about many of our players I think it's helps us understand "who" they are. We already know what they are
      “Never argue with an idiot. They will only bring you down to their level and beat you with experience.” MB Rule # 1


      • #4

        thanks Roanoke! [B]

        Eli and our receivers may have the greatest superbowl ever! [:P]



        • #5

          great story on Hixon. I wish him the best....

          Thanks Ro....

          "Measure Twice......Cut Once"
          You couldn't be more full of **** if you were break dancing in a Port-a-Potty.......Kruunch


          • #6
            Re: NEWS, NOTES, RUMORS, AND GOSSIP: WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 1, 2012 - 11:45 A.M.

            [quote user="GameTime"]

            great story on Hixon. I wish him the best....

            Thanks Ro....


            Imagine our return game if he was playing?
            “Never argue with an idiot. They will only bring you down to their level and beat you with experience.” MB Rule # 1


            • #7
              Re: NEWS, NOTES, RUMORS, AND GOSSIP: WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 1, 2012 - 11:45 A.M.

              [quote user="RoanokeFan"][quote user="GameTime"]

              great story on Hixon. I wish him the best....

              Thanks Ro....


              Imagine our return game if he was playing?

              Hope his recovery goes well. The Giants could def use him. If MM goes elsewhere he would or could be a good fit in his role.

              "Measure Twice......Cut Once"
              You couldn't be more full of **** if you were break dancing in a Port-a-Potty.......Kruunch


              • #8
                Re: NEWS, NOTES, RUMORS, AND GOSSIP: WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 1, 2012 - 11:45 A.M.

                Thanks RF. Hixon's return game is missed.


                • #9
                  Re: NEWS, NOTES, RUMORS, AND GOSSIP: WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 1, 2012 - 11:45 A.M.

                  [quote user="lttaylor56"]Thanks RF. Hixon's return game is missed.[/quote]

                  It sure is
                  “Never argue with an idiot. They will only bring you down to their level and beat you with experience.” MB Rule # 1


                  • #10
                    Re: NEWS, NOTES, RUMORS, AND GOSSIP: WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 1, 2012 - 11:45 A.M.

                    [quote user="GameTime"][quote user="RoanokeFan"][quote user="GameTime"]

                    great story on Hixon. I wish him the best....

                    Thanks Ro....


                    Imagine our return game if he was playing?

                    Hope his recovery goes well. The Giants could def use him. If MM goes elsewhere he would or could be a good fit in his role.


                    Good point
                    “Never argue with an idiot. They will only bring you down to their level and beat you with experience.” MB Rule # 1