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    "Giants defensive coordinator Perry
    Fewell called Antrel Rolle into his office for a meeting at some point during
    the regular season — Fewell estimated it to be in November, though neither could
    remember exactly when.

    The reason for the impromptu meeting was simple: Fewell didn’t like what he
    was seeing in the safety-turned-nickel cornerback. He knew Rolle was upset about
    his position change; Rolle had made public that he believed the nickel back
    position wasn’t the best way to use his talents.

    So Fewell thought Rolle needed a reminder that the team is bigger than he is.
    And he struck a cord by mentioning Deon Grant, Rolle’s best friend on the team,
    and putting the team’s goal in perspective.

    “He said, ‘’Trel, you have to think about it this way: You and Deon are
    tight, right?’” Rolle told The Star-Ledger, recalling the conversation between
    he and Fewell.

    “I said, ‘Yeah.’

    “He said, ‘Y’all are like brothers, right?’

    “I said, ‘Yeah.’

    “He said, ‘How many more opportunities do you think he’s going to get to
    actually reach a Super Bowl or win a Super Bowl?’

    “And when I thought about that, it actually brought tears to my eyes and from
    that point on I never saw the game about me. I never saw the game about anything
    having to deal with me. I saw the game about my teammates, I saw the game most
    of all about Coach Coughlin, and I saw the game most of all about Deon

    Fewell said he’s seen a change in Rolle since that meeting, which became
    another step in Rolle’s steady evolution from disgruntled newcomer to Tom
    Coughlin enthusiast over the course of a year.

    “I just wanted him to think about when we’re going out and we’re playing,
    there are some guys that probably won’t get a chance to play anymore after this
    year,” Fewell said. “And it could be your best buddy. It could be the guy you
    sit next to in the meeting.

    “We got to think about team before we think about anything else. As a leader
    — that’s what he is on our football team — he has to lead and not just for
    himself, but for others. So I just wanted him to think about that as the leader
    of our defense so he could really take in the total perspective.”


    "Osi Umenyiora missed out on Wednesday’s media session so it was only fitting
    that the media gathered around his podium a half hour before he appeared for
    today’s session, waiting to shoot questions about him not being around to answer
    questions Wednesday.

    “Honest mistake,” Umenyiora said when the first question was fired his way.
    “We had just went through the whole media day the day before so I wasn’t sure
    that this was mandatory so I went to hang out with my family.

    “It was a mistake, a costly one, but a mistake none the less.”

    And by costly, he
    meant $20,000-worth of costliness
    . Not pocket change by any means, even for
    an NFL Pro Bowler.

    “Absolutely it is a big hit,” Umenyiora said. “I feed a lot of people. I am
    responsible for a lot of people. That money could have went to a really, really
    good cause. It is stupid to have to incur that type of fine for missing
    something as simple as this, but at the end of the day I didn’t know it was


    "There is a fine line between success and failure in the “what have you done
    lately” NFL, and Giants general manager
    Jerry Reese knows it all too well.

    This time last year, questions about his football team were abundant and they
    continued into training camp and until the Giants turned things around with
    their season on the line against the Jets on Christmas Eve.

    “It’s kind of funny when you’re 10-6 last year and you don’t qualify for the
    tournament and you go 9-7, you win the division, qualify for the tournament,”
    Reese said. “That’s the difference between being a smart guy and a not-so-smart
    guy. Last year, I wasn’t so smart. This year, we win nine games [and] I’m
    smarter. Go figure that.”

    Now, after constant criticism for making unpopular moves during the
    offseason, Reese is back on the media and fans’ good side, one win away from
    winning his second Super Bowl in five seasons.

    “In 2009, we thought we had a pretty deep team and we ended up 8-8, because
    we went out and got some free agents,” Reese said. “That isn’t always the way to
    do it. Everybody has different ways of doing things. We had a good nucleus of
    guys coming back and we just felt like we needed to make the best football

    "Obviously, they’re not sexy moves. We signed a guard, we signed a center and
    we signed a punter. That’s not really sexy, especially from a fan perspective.
    Fans are fans and they like to see big names and see you look like you’re
    stacking the deck, but we had good players already and we needed to fill the
    holes we thought were there and we tried to do that.”


    "Before Wednesday’s practice, the Giants’ first in Indianapolis, Tom Coughlin
    was under the assumption that running back Ahmad Bradshaw wasn’t going to
    practice as has been his typical weekly routine.

    But Bradshaw said he wanted to be out there with his teammates and wound up
    practicing Wednesday afternoon, though in a limited capacity. Bradshaw today
    said that he’ll be practicing again this afternoon, the first time he’ll have
    practiced on consecutive days since returning from injury in early December.

    “Just to get my legs up under me," Bradshaw said. "We’ve been staying in this
    hotel for the last couple of days, sitting on our butts in meetings and
    everything else, so I just wanted to get my feet up under me and get out there
    and have fun.

    “I feel good. I’ll probably go today and sit out Friday and

    This morning, Coughlin said he wasn’t sure if Bradshaw would be out there,
    but he did want his running back to practice at least one more time this

    “Hopefully, he’ll get at least one more day in this week which I think really
    helps him to be able to practice and go through it himself and do it rather than
    just watch others and watch tape and try to visualize how he would’ve handled
    that,” Coughlin said.

    “We were pleased with the way he worked yesterday and he seemed to be fine.
    He does have the issue and if there’s any question about it and how he comes
    back, today will be something we’ll be concerned with.”

    Jacquian Williams, who is battling a less severe foot injury and the other
    major injury concern for the Giants going into Sunday’s game, also practiced and
    was limited. Coughlin liked what he saw.

    “Jacquain did well,” Coughlin said. “Jacquain went out and at first we tried
    to be reserved, but he did practice well and hopefully he will be able to do
    some more today.”

    It it’s up to the rookie linebacker, he’ll suit up on Sunday, no questions

    “We’ll see today how much more I get; see how much more practice time they
    give me,” Williams said.

    “I’m still sticking to my first words -- I ain’t gonna miss it for


    "Jason Pierre-Paul has been saying all week Tom Brady is human. Like any
    quarterback, he can be rattled when pressured.

    Turns out, the same applies sometimes when a defender is nowhere near him.

    The Giants’ Pro Bowl defensive end told reporters today Brady was flinching in
    the pocket despite none of the Giants’ pass rushers being around him in the
    teams’ Week 9 matchup.

    “He did react to pressure that didn’t exist, and he was just throwing the
    ball places where there wasn’t even a receiver there,” Pierre-Paul said.
    “Imagine us getting there even faster and actually doing our jobs and getting
    hits on him.”

    On the first play of the third quarter, Brady ducks for no apparent reason.
    As he pumps to throw, Linval Joseph raises his arm to block the pass, but he’s
    still two yards away. Finally, Brady throws up the right seam for Aaron
    Hernandez, who made a heck of an adjustment to grab a pass that was thrown
    behind him.

    That’s what happens when even the best in the game start to get hit and

    “He’s a great quarterback. If you give him time in the pocket to pick on your
    secondary and throw the ball, he is going to hurt you. He is going to hurt you,”
    Pierre-Paul said. “Us, as a D-line, we know that the pressure is mostly going to
    be on us. If we don’t rush, then he has all day to throw the ball. Everybody
    knows that.

    “I put it on us. I put it on the D-line to go out there and perform well. We
    have to perform well and get to Tom Brady quick. We just have to play all-out
    and give it all we’ve got. We can’t feel sorry for ourselves.”

    * * * *

    Well, Pierre-Paul just inadvertently tried to blow a big hole into my Sunday
    story because I had planned to make “The Flinch,” as CBS’
    Pete Prisco has dubbed it
    , a big part of my gameday story.

    But we’re going to stick to the plan. So stay tuned for much more on the
    above, including the term the Giants’ players and coaches use for Brady’s
    flinching. Plus, which other quarterback did the same against them recently? And
    finally, let’s see if you can guess the player who was designated by Perry
    Fewell as a key intimidator the last time the Giants faced Brady. I’m accepting
    all guesses below, though I won’t reveal the correct answer until


    "All season, the Giants’ defensive players have had “Hands Wall of Fame” papers
    in their locker with their faces on there. I kept meaning to ask what that was
    all about but never got the full explanation.

    For Thursday’s
    paper, I wrote a story
    about how Antrel Rolle used those papers to motivate
    Deon Grant before the Giants’ game against the Patriots. In asking around, I was
    told they’re a reference to the actual “Hands Wall of Fame” in tight ends coach
    Mike Pope’s meeting room.

    So in an attempt to finally get to bottom of this, I went to Pope today.

    “When a defensive player intercepts a pass, they go into the training room,
    they take a photograph on the copy machine of their hands, they autograph it,
    (coaching assistant) Chris Pridy decorates it a little bit, makes it nice and it
    goes up in my meeting room,” Pope said. “That means they got an interception,
    they got us the ball, so it’s a form of recognition and appreciation.”

    Well, isn’t that nice.

    Okay, so now what are the papers in the lockers? Well, Pope hands them out
    every week with a theme on them to help motivate the players.

    “Kind of a little reminder an interception would help us out this week,” Pope

    Pope works on the theme with one of the secretaries to keep it fresh. In
    fact, he said today he was the mastermind behind the
    “sucker” paper with Aaron Rodgers’ head on it
    that was hanging in Antrel
    Rolle’s locker after the divisional-round playoff victory against the Packers.
    Rolle had taken that with him to Green Bay.

    Sometimes, the target isn’t the opposing team’s quarterback. It can often be
    the Giants’ own players. Such was the case one week late in the season when Pope
    put the pictures of players who hadn’t had interceptions in months on milk

    “The missing kids,” Pope said. “That (upset them) and so they came to me and
    said, ‘I’m getting my picture off that milk carton this week.’

    “So then Aaron Ross runs into the back of JPP (Jason Pierre-Paul) and knocks
    himself out. They come and blame me and say, ‘We tried so hard to get those
    picks to get on the Hands Wall of Fame, we’re killing each other. And it’s your
    fault.’ I said, ‘Okay, I’ll take the hit for that one.’”



    Excerpt: "Maeve Plassche, who signs her letters to Eli Manning and other Giants players as "Your #1 fan," can be
    found at 6 every morning sitting in front of the TV watching "SportsCenter."

    Why the early hour? The 11-year-old Clinton Township resident has a school
    bus to catch shortly after 7. Her bedroom is decorated in the design style known
    as Big Blue — Giants clock, Giants calendar, a Giants foam finger, photos of her
    favorite Giants players (which seem to be most of them), Giants laundry basket.
    Wallpaper? Newspaper clippings of this season’s games.

    Ruth Lemakos’ apartment at Cedar Creek Village in Pompton Plains is more
    restrained, although one cannot help but notice the Giant's bedspread and the
    Phil Simms jersey hanging on the door. But don’t mistake low-key for low
    interest; Lemakos, 77, bleeds Big Blue so bad she cannot bear to watch games in
    the presence of others.

    "You have people over, they’re talking and not paying attention to the game,"
    she said. "And if I want to stand up and scream, I can do it."

    Football is a game played by men and a sport whose rabid fans are
    overwhelmingly male. But girls love to spray paint their faces and scream at the
    top of their lungs, too, and it probably wouldn’t be a good idea to get into a
    Giants highlights contest with Plassche, who can recount big plays with a
    commentator’s precision.

    "Michael Boley recovers a fumble, runs into the end zone, throws the ball,
    hits a guy standing off to the side and then it hits a cameraman in the head,"
    she said of a play in a Giants-St. Louis Rams game.

    She has written letters to the team addressed to "Eli, Team and Tom
    (Coughlin)" filled with friendly pointers."


    Excerpt: "Jeri Flowers knows it’ll break your heart, but the prized suite at the Quality
    Inn & Suites in nearby Greenfield — custom decorated — is booked for the
    Super Bowl.

    The room is painted in the Indianapolis Colts’ blue and white, with tiny
    Colts helmets as the knobs on the dresser. (Don’t even think about swiping them
    or you’ll pay a hefty damage charge.) The shower curtain is dotted with
    horseshoe logos, and the floors are carpeted with AstroTurf.

    “I sold that room months ago,” she bragged.

    And no wonder. With free Wi-Fi and a gym and coupons for local restaurants,
    it’s a steal at $399 a night — even if it is 23 miles from Lucas Oil Stadium,
    the site of Super Bowl XVLI and, despite the rumor, Peyton Manning wasn’t really
    the interior decorator.

    Why are we telling you this? Because some hotel rooms in downtown
    Indianapolis, if you can find them on the black market, are renting for more
    than $4,000 a night, with a four-night minimum stay, according to travel
    companies that have them and sports marketing executives desperately scrambling
    to find accommodations for picky clients.

    Forget about Tom Brady’s and Eli Manning’s passing numbers. Here’s the
    statistic that fans with tickets to the game care more about: Hospitality
    experts wonder if, when kickoff arrives, Indianapolis will have seen the most
    severe hotel price gouging in Super Bowl history.

    “It’s insane,” said Alan Banchand, a partner in, a sports
    hospitality website. “This is my 16th Super Bowl, and I’ve never, never, never
    seen prices like this.”

    The price of a downtown pillow is roughly twice the cost of a ticket on the
    40-yard line. Of course, on Monday, that Colts suite — and the other rooms at
    the Quality Inn — will go for $73.99. Rooms at hotels in downtown Indianapolis
    will plummet, too.

    But for now, fans — who already have shelled out thousands for tickets and
    airfare — might have to take out a second mortgage for a bed and a bath anywhere
    in Hoosier territory. "


    Excerpt: "Wearing flip-flops and a winter wool hat, and casually sipping from a mug of
    coffee, Matt Light emerged in front of the news media for the first time this
    week. The New England Patriots left tackle had been ill the past few days,
    scratched from news conferences Monday and Tuesday.

    Upon his return, he was informed of the “get well soon” wishes sent by Giants defensive end Osi Umenyiora to one
    of his “greatest friends.”

    “He said that?” said Light, who was healthy enough to practice fully
    yesterday. “Wow. Pretty sincere.”

    Good to see there’s no love lost.

    The players have a rivalry of sorts dating to the 2007 season. Umenyiora
    stirred the pot before Super Bowl XLII, when he insinuated Light is a dirty
    player. He spoke up again last week, saying Light gets under his skin — and he’s
    planning to “rekindle” their rivalry in Super Bowl XLVI.

    “Can you have an individual rivalry?” Light asked. “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.”

    Light masterfully made sure he never really answered any questions about
    Umenyiora, other than with sarcasm or mockery or a change of topic.

    Light cleared up that he and Umenyiora are not pen pals, that the nature of
    their relationship is “on the field” and that his memory doesn’t serve him well
    enough to recall the back-and-fourth four years ago. Okay, then." Read more...


    "The first-year special teams assistant was fidgety. He shifted in his seat every
    minute or so, chewing tobacco situated along his gum line. An hour was just too
    long for Larry Izzo to be confined to a chair.

    “Look at him bouncing around,” Giants
    kicker Lawrence Tynes said from across the room. “He can’t sit still.”

    That’s the endless energy that made the 5-10, 225-pound Izzo one of the
    league’s premier special teams players over a 14-year career, which included
    three Super Bowl wins, a trio of Pro Bowl appearances, 298 career special teams
    tackles, and not a single losing season.

    And it’s the same verve that has made him an engaging coach for the Giants’
    special teams, which features a slew of rookies.

    Izzo doesn’t just tell his players how it should be done — he shows them. He
    regularly plays clips of himself hunting down returners in coverage with a blend
    of intelligence and recklessness that made him what New England Patriots coach
    Bill Belichick this week said was the best special teams player he’s ever

    Then there are the on-field demonstrations Izzo, two years removed from his
    final game as a player, gives to his players.

    “A couple weeks ago we were short on men running down on scout team kickoff
    and he stepped in and he was probably the fastest guy on the field,” rookie
    linebacker and special-teamer Spencer Paysinger recalled. “It was funny because
    while you’re watching it on film, you saw his mind click over to being a player

    Izzo won’t be between the lines on Sunday and says he has “no delusions of
    grandeur,” and is comfortable knowing he won’t play again after taking a
    one-year sabbatical from the sport before joining the Giants under special teams
    coach Tom Quinn this season. Instead, he takes solace in seeing his players
    making an impact as they did against the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC
    Championship Game.

    “It was great to see because I was excited for our guys,” Izzo said.
    “Jacquian Williams making a tackle and stripping the ball and putting them in a
    position to win the NFC championship and go to the Super Bowl was great to see
    as a coach. To see a guy play like that, I was very happy for him and proud of
    him because you know what’s in store for him. He’s going to the Super Bowl;
    we’re going to the Super Bowl.”

    Williams’ play set up a rematch of Super Bowl XLII, which Izzo also took part
    in four years ago as a member of the Patriots. Izzo said he still has a close
    relationship with players and coaches who were with him during his eight years
    in New England, but that will take a backseat on Sunday.

    “It was weird when I went to play for the Jets,” Izzo said referring to the final
    season of his career in 2009. “That was weirder for me.”

    Izzo, who was named special teams captain for each of his eight seasons in
    New England, doesn’t think revenge will be on the minds for the Patriots — only
    a handful of players from that game remain on the team and the Super Bowl is
    enough motivation, he reasoned.

    His switch to the opposing side hasn’t been overlooked by his players who
    have given him some grief for losing that Super Bowl in 2008 over the last week
    in good fun. And they’re keeping tabs on him just in case.

    “We got some spies watching him, making sure he doesn’t cross enemy lines,”
    Tynes joked. “We got some people kind of shadowing Larry making sure he doesn’t
    give out any information this week.”


    "This season, Giants players who recorded
    interceptions received papers from tight ends coach Mike Pope that read, “Hands
    Wall of Fame.”

    Before the team left for the road game against the New England Patriots in
    November, Antrel Rolle stuffed a few of those papers into his folder. He had a
    plan to prod safety Deon Grant.

    “At that point in time, Deon didn’t have any interceptions,” Rolle recalled
    Wednesday morning. “When we came in after pregame, he looks up at his locker and
    sees a sign that says, ‘The Wall of Fame for the hands for interceptions. Where
    are you?’ And he’s looking around, like, ‘Who did that?’

    “I just felt that day, ‘This boy, he’s gonna ball in this game.’”

    A lot of people balled that day, namely Tom Brady and Eli Manning. Those two
    traded scoring drives late in the game, with Manning hitting Jake Ballard for
    the 1-yard game winner to give the Giants a 24-20 victory.

    The late scoring somewhat overshadowed a lot of very good defensive play,
    particularly by Grant. He had his only interception of the season, nearly
    grabbed another and defended a jump ball to Rob Gronkowski in the end zone
    before the Pats’ tight end beat Michael Boley for a touchdown to briefly give
    New England the lead.

    Three days from now in Super Bowl XLVI, the stakes are much higher.

    Grant knows that. He’s been on this stage before and lost to the Patriots,
    still haunted by a play he could’ve made to change Super Bowl XXXVIII while he
    was with the Carolina Panthers. Given Gronkowski’s importance to New England’s
    scheme and his record-setting 17 touchdowns in the regular season, Grant will
    probably get a chance to make another big play — even with Gronkowski
    battling a high-ankle sprain.

    Once again, Rolle thinks his fellow safety is ready to ball.

    “Deon can handle any tight end in this league,” Rolle said. “If that’s the
    matchup right now, he will handle Gronkowski.”

    Grant’s awfully confident in the matchup, which he believes is ideal for a
    player like him who’s faster than a linebacker and thicker than the average
    defensive back.

    “He knew it and I know it,” the 6-2, 215-pound Grant said of his being suited
    to cover Gronkowski. “I love to be physical, I like to put my hands on him. And
    when I don’t have to put my hands on him, I think I have the skills that I can
    move with him.”

    What Grant omitted there was arguably his best attribute: his mind.

    The 12-year veteran picked off the pass from Brady to Gronkowski in November
    because he made an adjustment after nearly being beaten on the same route
    earlier in the game. Grant was “trying to set (Brady) up” by playing inside of
    Gronkowski on a seam route, but that gave Brady a chance to “drill that ball in
    there.” He didn’t, and overshot Gronkowski instead.

    One quarter later, Grant maintained outside leverage, which caused Gronkowski
    to slow down as he adjusted to get inside of Grant. Brady looked to his right
    then whipped his head back to the left and fired.

    Right into Grant’s hands.

    “That’s where experience comes in,” Grant said.

    In that zone defense, he played Gronkowski man-to-man. A week later, he’d do
    the same against the San Francisco 49ers, and the Giants would be burned when
    rookie Greg Jones, in for Boley, didn’t adjust to cover the crossing Vernon

    Boley’s healthy again, so on Sunday he and Grant will probably be “freakin’
    it,” as Grant calls those quirky adjustments that must be made to fool

    “You have to, you have to,” safeties coach David Merritt said. “Make those
    guys beat us because they made a better play, they’re a better athlete at that
    time. But don’t beat yourself.”

    The Giants didn’t beat themselves four years ago.

    “The communication back then was almost perfect,” Merritt said. “We’ve gotten
    back to that.”

    Thanks in large part to Grant, who took calls from a few other teams before
    re-signing with the Giants in August. One of them was the Texans; another was an
    NFC East team he declined to name. But he returned to East Rutherford because
    this team “didn’t finish what we wanted to finish.”

    Just like the Panthers eight years ago.

    “There’s one play that’s stuck in my mind,” Grant said. “It could’ve changed
    the whole game around if I had done something different.”

    On that play, which started New England’s second series, he went for the hit
    and the pass break-up on David Givens instead of the interception.

    “Things like that stay in my mind,” Grant said. “So this game, I’m not
    leaving any kind of room for me to take a play off.”

    Grant will be motivated, and Rolle will make sure of it. The two members of a
    group of safeties Rolle calls “AK-47” (Why? Glad you asked. The jersey numbers
    of Rolle and Kenny Phillips add up to 47, and Rolle is the “clip.” So there’s
    that.) keep each other balanced. Grant has helped Rolle change his perspective;
    Rolle has gotten his elder fired up.

    Like that Sunday in New England.

    “I told him after the game, ‘You know who put that in your locker, right?’”
    Rolle recalled. “He said, ‘I already know.’”



    "Victor Cruz has known
    for months that he was becoming something of a sensation, even as he tried to
    hold onto his child-like innocence, to pretend he didn’t truly know how big he
    was becoming.

    That all changed on Saturday, one day before he departed with the Giants for
    the Super Bowl, when he was convinced to attend a rally at School 21 in
    Paterson, N.J. What he thought would be “a little pep rally” turned into a
    gathering of 3,000 — a group so large police had to close off an entire

    “They were just flooding the streets and they blocked the streets off and all
    kinds of fans were wishing me good luck,” Cruz was saying from the Giants’ team
    hotel on Wednesday. “They were really happy for my success. That’s when it kind
    of settled in.”

    There’s no going back now.

    After his stunning, record-breaking season for the Giants, the 25-year-old
    Cruz has been a national media darling during Super Bowl week. His
    rags-to-riches story and his ever-present smile have attracted a deep crowd
    around his podium each time he speaks.

    This figures to be just the start. The former undrafted free agent, who never
    had an NFL catch before this season, has been a regular on the local TV shows in
    New York, and his salsa-dancing end zone celebration earned him an invite —
    which he turned down — to join ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars.”

    Now he’s signed with IMG, a major marketing group, which will handle what
    figures to be countless post-Super Bowl opportunities. He hinted Wednesday at “a
    lot of different things” that could be coming up for him in the offseason. There
    is now no doubt that the once-overlooked kid from inner city Paterson has hit
    the big-time.

    But Cruz insists the kid from the neighborhood is still there, despite the
    lights and cameras and microphones that follow him wherever he goes. He knows
    that he straddled the “very, very fine line” between making it big and not
    making it at all, which makes him appreciate all this even more.

    “I’m glad for the way I came up,” Cruz said. “It really taught me to savor
    the moment and not take anything for granted. So every moment, every day, every
    hour that I get the opportunity to play this game and be in front of you guys, I
    soak it all in and just make sure I enjoy the opportunity.”

    The story of Cruz’s ascension is already well-known, although it’s now being
    repeated across the country. An overlooked kid from UMass, Cruz was invited to
    Giants camp in the summer of 2010 and had a breakout preseason game against the

    Still, when he entered this season, he admittedly had set the bar low:
    Catching a pass in a game that matters.

    Cruz, who admitted he was probably a “10 million-to-one” shot, ended up with
    82 catches, a Giants-record 1,536 yards and nine touchdowns.

    “Nobody expected this kind of performance from me,” Cruz said. “Including

    “It takes a little bit of luck,” he added. “It takes a lot of skill and a lot
    of determination, and it takes a lot of hard work. It took being at the right
    place at the right time and choosing the right team. It took being there at the
    right moments and making the necessary plays when you had to. When your number
    was called upon, you made all the right moves and you made all the right
    decisions. It takes a whole lot.”

    Now, it takes a whole lot to keep him grounded. He said he leans on his
    family, including his mother Blanca, and his girlfriend Elaina Watley and his
    newborn daughter Kennedy. They are the ones he counts on to make sure the kid
    from Paterson doesn’t end up with a big head.

    “Just my family, and just understanding that growing up I didn’t have
    anything,” Cruz said. “Nothing was given to me. I had to work for everything
    I’ve had. I just got to focus on remaining myself. And I think just being around
    my family and staying close-knit with my support system will be huge in keeping
    me levelheaded and grounded.”


    may be planning a Super celebration back in Foxborough, Mass. next
    week, but Giants defensive tackle Chris Canty has his
    sights set on something bigger:

    A parade on Tuesday down the Canyon of

    That’s the plan, according to the Bronx-born Canty, who is still
    searching for his first championship ring. Asked by Bruce Beck, of NBC New
    York, to send a message to Giants fans back home, Canty told them to clear
    Tuesday on their schedules.

    “Get ready for a great game on Super Bowl
    Sunday,” Canty said. “And get ready for a parade on Tuesday.”

    just the latest in a string of tough talk from the brash Giants, who arrived in
    this Super Bowl city on Monday fully expecting to leave with a title. Antrel Rolle made that
    clear after their charter plane landed when he said “We expect to win.” He
    toughened that up on Tuesday during Media Day when he said “We’re going to win
    this thing. We’re going to win this thing for a lot of good reasons,” and said
    the Giants are “not going to be denied … it will be done.”

    Of course,
    the Patriots fired first. Brady, speaking at a Sunday pep rally at Gillette
    Stadium, told a crowd of 25,000 people that “We're going down (to Indianapolis)
    for one reason. We're going to give it our best and hopefully we'll have a lot
    more people at our party next weekend.”

    Brady later explained his
    remarks by saying, “Well, it was a pep rally.” True. And Canty was asked to give
    a message to the fans.

    Whether or not any of that ends up on the teams’
    bulletin board remains to be seen. But somebody’s party plans are going to be
    spoiled on Super Sunday.

    If the Giants do win, though, Canty is right.
    The parade down the Canyon of Heroes would likely be on Tuesday, and it likely
    would be followed by a celebration at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford,


    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...


    "Chase Blackburn was
    in awe. The Giants linebacker looked around the media conference room at the
    Downtown Marriott in the heart of Indianapolis and eyed the TV cameras and
    recorders pointed in his direction.

    “I wasn’t thinking about the Super Bowl (a few months ago),” he said
    Wednesday. “I was thinking about getting back on the field and helping the team
    win. The Super Bowl happens. It’s not something you plan for when you get

    And that’s exactly where Blackburn was in late November: home. The player who
    has allowed the Giants to play a more traditional defense was hardly thinking
    about playing in Super Bowl XLVI; he was just looking for a job.

    Blackburn, a key special teams cog the last time the Giants made it this far,
    had been cut before the start of the season. So he was back home in Dublin,
    Ohio, trying to get a job as a substitute teacher. He was in the basement of his
    house, playing with his two sons, when Giants assistant GM Kevin

    From Jonathan Goff to Clint
    , the Giants had lost a bevy of linebackers, and rookie Mark Herzlich had
    gone down against the Saints with an injured ankle. Abrams, in desperate need of
    a middle linebacker, asked Blackburn if he was in shape. And when the 247-pound
    linebacker responded yes, Abrams told him to head to New York.

    “He said, ‘Get on a plane,’?” Blackburn said. “I was excited.”

    Just days later, on Dec. 4, Blackburn was intercepting Green Bay QB
    Aaron Rodgers
    at MetLife Stadium. And by mid-December, he had plugged the
    Giants’ revolving door at middle linebacker, allowing the defense to end its
    reliance on gimmicky three-safety alignments.

    With Blackburn playing a big role, the Giants’ once-shaky defense has held
    three of its last four opponents to less than 100 rushing yards.

    “It was great having a veteran guy who has been in the league for a while
    being able to come back and basically pick up where he left off,” said teammate
    Michael Boley. “He’s
    done a great job for us, and I’m glad we got him back.”

    Blackburn is glad, too.

    “It’s been a nice ride,” he said. “And I never would have imagined


    "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."



    "Ahmad Bradshaw tripped, but it’s no big deal.

    The Giants running back, who has a tender foot, during Thursday’s practice
    stumbled going through the line but was able to get right back to his feet and
    showed no sign of a limp.

    “It looked like he tripped over the fullback’s foot,’’ Tom Coughlin said.
    “But he’s fine.’’

    Bradshaw practiced on a limited basis for a second straight day, highly
    unusually for him. Since he suffered a stress fracture in his right foot earlier
    this season, he’s sat our two days of practice before hitting the field on

    Bradshaw (foot) and defensive end Osi Umenyiora (ankle/knee) were limited in
    the practice, held for 88 minutes on the University of Indianapolis’ indoor turf

    Cornerback Corey Webster (hamstring), wide receiver Hakeem Nicks (shoulder)
    and special-teamer/linebacker Jacquian Williams (foot) all worked fully.

    Coughlin’s assessment of the second practice of the week leading up to Super
    Bowl XLVI against the Patriots: “We did fine. The energy level, the enthusiasm,
    the excitement is all there, as it should be, as it was yesterday. They’re
    really excited to practice for the game. I think they’ve done very well. This
    was a good day of preparation.’’

    According to the official NFC pool report, Eli Manning was especially sharp,
    completing 10 of 11 passes on the second two-minute drill of the day, against
    the starting defense. The play of the day was a twisting, one-handed catch by

    Coughlin said the Giants on Saturday night will not move out of their
    Downtown Marriott hotel they’ve stayed in all week. Many times, coaches opt to
    move their team the night before the Super Bowl to get farther out of town to
    eliminate any distractions. Coughlin said he is satisfied the hotel the Giants
    are in will be suitable for players to get their rest undisturbed Saturday
    night. Four years ago, the Giants did not change hotels in Arizona.

    Thursday morning, Bradshaw said his participation in practice would send a

    "Oh, yeah, it gives a lot of confidence to me and my teammates," he said. "It
    doesn't do anything but help get a feel for the team."

    Bradshaw said he would practice Thursday because the Giants would be working
    on their third-down plays.

    "I'll probably sit out tomorrow to get my feet back under me and try to stay
    off of it for a day," he said."


    "There’s Eli Manning the quarterback and Eli Manning the offensive

    Giants coach Tom Coughlin pointed to Manning’s routine of having a meeting
    with the receivers after every Friday practice as one of the reason his
    quarterback has improved and has the team a win away from another

    “We get in the green zone, we are going to do this, we are going to do that,”
    receiver Mario Manningham said of the meeting. “We are going to talk about the
    technique of the defensive backs.”

    Manningham said the meetings really only started this year, which happens to
    be by far Manning’s best season in the NFL. And it is one of the reasons the
    Giants are back in Super Bowl XLVI against New England.

    “He has a tape made, he cuts it up, he decides how he wants to implement and
    impart to the receiver, what he’s looking for,” Coughlin said. “The receivers
    talk about what they should and shouldn’t do and what they should’ve done. He
    does go through that.”

    The improvement of Manning and the receiving trio of Hakeem Nicks, Victor
    Cruz and Manningham has been evident.

    “It helps prepare for Sunday because we’re going everything just with us,”
    Nicks said. “We’re going over the game plan and how Eli is seeing everything,
    and how we can take advantage of things and exploit certain things. It helps us
    (bond) … It’s just the plays we are running and making sure we’re on the same

    The process actually begins earlier in the week when Manning also spends time
    with the other positions on the offense. He works with the tight ends, running
    backs and offensive line about pass protection.

    “He’s involved with all groups throughout the course of the week, he’s very
    much involved with the offensive lineman,” Coughlin said. “He likes busting
    their chops and they do it the other way around. So, he spends time with
    everyone throughout the course of the week, and it’s basically all football.”

    The breakout season for Manning could not have been needed more. The Giants
    running game finished last in the league, despite some late-season improvement.
    But without Manning's development it’s unlikely the Giants would have even been
    in position to win the NFC East and go another playoff run like they did four
    years ago, when they beat the Patriots in the Super Bowl.

    “We leaned on the passing game. There is no question. He’s the trigger guy,
    so between the receivers, the protection and himself there is no question we
    were not running the ball as effectively as we have in the past,” offensive
    coordinator Kevin Gilbride said. “So the only way we were going to move it and
    have a chance to be successful was through the air.

    “Fortunately, we’ve gotten better, with the exception of the San Francisco
    game, over the last four or five weeks of running the ball. But for the most
    part, we were not as good as we’ve been. We have been pretty good, but we were
    just not as good this year.”



    "QB Eli Manning vs. FS Patrick Chung

    Bill Belichick loves to mix up his coverage assignments, so unless you are
    the Patriots coach or one of his assistants, it’s impossible to know who will be
    covering each of the Giants’ dangerous receivers Sunday.

    The one certainty for Manning is the athletic, hard-hitting Chung will have
    to be accounted for on every pass play. It’s no coincidence New England’s
    secondary improved dramatically after Chung returned in the regular-season
    finale following seven missed games with a foot injury.

    Chung appears to have regained a lot of his quickness in three games since
    coming back, making him a capable center fielder, but Manning is a savvy passer
    who is on such a roll that it’s doubtful a third-year pro like Chung will be
    able to surprise him.

    EDGE: Manning


    "Where Trel At?

    The Super Bowl, that’s where.

    It sure can appear to be a cute slogan on a cool T-shirt by an
    entrepreneurial safety living the life, but it is so much more than cute or cool
    or potentially profitable. Antrel Rolle is not merely a part of Super Bowl XLVI,
    he’s one of the major reasons why the Giants still are around after their season
    nearly was capsized by too much bad football, most notably by the defensive
    backfield Rolle inhabits.

    Mention “Where Trel At?” to Rolle’s teammates and they start grinning. He’s
    guilty of the same facial expression.



    “No matter what kind of mood you’re in, no matter what kind of day you’re
    having, when you hear that it just puts a smile on our face,’’ Rolle said
    yesterday. “Something so little has definitely brought us closer together as a

    For stretches of the season the emotional temperature of the Giants could be
    gauged by Rolle, who in his second season with the team emerged, in his own way,
    as the fire to Eli Manning’s ice. Justin Tuck, a team captain, admittedly
    struggled with his leadership duties as injuries compromised his work on the
    field, and there’s no doubt Rolle stepped in to fill the void.

    His indignation as the Giants were sliding was palpable, just as it is clear
    he is intensely confident his club will take care of business Sunday night
    against the Patriots.

    There were times this season when it wasn’t readily apparent that Rolle and
    the team felt the same way. There was the big one, after the dreadful 23-10 loss
    to the Redskins, when Rolle went on a riff about players with “nicks and
    bruises’’ needing to forget about the ashes and pains and get out on the
    practice field. The Giants haven’t lost since.

    “When Antrel stood up and talked about players practicing … in my opinion
    that was the pivotal moment for us,’’ safeties coach David Merritt told The

    Impactful with his words, Rolle this season spent just two games at his
    natural safety position, as he has been asked to fill holes at nickel
    cornerback, which cut deeply into his play-making ability. Where Trel At? could
    be a search for where he will line up next, but it’s not. Instead, it’s the
    handiwork of safety Deon Grant.

    “Trel [is] the type of guy who can get ready in two minutes,’’ Grant said.
    “If it’s 10:30, we’re supposed to be on the football field, he starts getting
    dressed at 10:27. So I walk in there he’s nowhere to be found I’ll be like
    ‘Where Trel At? Where Trel At?’ and everybody liked the way I started saying it.
    They ran with it.’’

    Actually it was equipment gurus Joe and Ed Skiba who turned the phrase into a
    T-shirt, which now is available on

    “The Skibas, they just sort of took it and ran with it, making fun of our
    Ebonics and ending sentences with a preposition,’’ Rolle said. “Everyone says
    its now. I have my teammates’ sons walking around saying ‘Where Trel At?’
    Everywhere I go.’’

    There’s more coming. Rolle’s linguistic crutch — one he’s recently tried to
    shed — is coming to a crew-neck near you.

    “If we go out there and win this thing on Sunday just watch me on the parade,
    watch me on the float, I will be sporting an ‘At The End Of The Day’ shirt,’’ he

    This is all part of a two-year transition for Rolle, who initially chafed
    under the weight of coach Tom Coughlin’s guidelines but now is in line as one of
    his greatest supporters. Rolle barely spoke to the media when he played for the
    Cardinals, but now his locker is a must-stop destination, just as his weekly
    radio spot on WFAN is required listening.

    “I’m in the New York swing of things right now,’’ Rolle, a Miami native,
    said. “I can actually say New York is my second home.

    “I can’t see anything being greater than being an athlete and playing in the
    brighter stage of New York. It’s something I’m definitely blessed to be in. I’m
    gonna try to capture it and appreciate it and ride it until the wheels fall

    He hopes no one has to ask Where Trel At? late Sunday night, because Rolle
    plans on being up there on the victory podium, finishing what his Giants


    "Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski won't be 100 percent by Sunday, but he is
    hopeful that won't stop him from playing against the Giants.

    "It's the Super Bowl, I'm doing everything I can possibly do to get out
    there," Gronkowski, who has a sprained left ankle, said Thursday. "I want to be
    out there no matter what, even if it's not at full speed."

    Gronkowski did not practice Wednesday for the Patriots, who will do so again
    Thursday afternoon.

    "I'm doing everything possible besides practicing," Gronkowski said.

    "Whatever the trainers tell me to do. Obviously, I wasn't able to practice
    yesterday, but I'm making positive strides."

    The record-setting tight end was injured in the AFC Championship on Jan. 22.
    He arrived here in a walking boot but has not worn it in public since

    "There's frustration a little bit, but it is what it is right now,"
    Gronkowski said. "I've just got to put that in the back of my mind, just worry
    about the things I can control."

    Quarterback Tom Brady said Thursday that Gronkowski would be able to play in
    the game without going through practice.

    "He has a pretty good understanding of what were doing," Brady said. "Maybe
    the break is good for him in a sense that he hasn't been beat up in practice.
    Hopefully he can go out there and play (Sunday)."


    "Giants running backs coach Jerald Ingram was trying to describe the kind of
    pain Ahmad Bradshaw endures from his injured feet. “For the average person who
    stubbed their toe on the bed, he feels that way all day long,” Ingram said.

    “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. Great story about Chase.


    • #3

      Some great reads this week


      • #4

        [quote user="nygsb42champs"]Thanks RF. Great story about Chase.[/quote]

        I think Chase will be key to us winning this game
        “Never argue with an idiot. They will only bring you down to their level and beat you with experience.” MB Rule # 1


        • #5
          Re: NEWS, NOTES, RUMORS, AND GOSSIP: THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 2, 2012 - 10:45 A.M.

          thanks Roanoke!

          exciting lead up to the game. i can hardly wait!

          Go Giants!



          • #6
            Re: NEWS, NOTES, RUMORS, AND GOSSIP: THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 2, 2012 - 10:45 A.M.

            There are not enough stories on Cruz.


            • #7
              Re: NEWS, NOTES, RUMORS, AND GOSSIP: THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 2, 2012 - 10:45 A.M.

              [quote user="RoanokeFan"][quote user="nygsb42champs"]Thanks RF. Great story about Chase.[/quote]

              I think Chase will be key to us winning this game

              If not THE key, I think he will certainly be one of the keys. Also I'm thinking Cruz will be one of the keys as well. Thereare too many good players to name.

              I want a Trel shirt. Thanks RF.


              • #8
                Re: NEWS, NOTES, RUMORS, AND GOSSIP: THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 2, 2012 - 10:45 A.M.

                Unbelievable week this has been. Thanks RF.

                Bill Parcells chose significant players for each team last night in his "Bill Parcell's Super Bowl Confidential" 1 hour special.
                He chose:

                NYG-A Bradshaw
                Pats-A Hernandez

                Bill predicts the team with the fewest mistakes wins.

                This one is going to be a chess match, I cannot wait.


                • #9
                  Re: NEWS, NOTES, RUMORS, AND GOSSIP: THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 2, 2012 - 10:45 A.M.

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


                  • #10
                    Re: NEWS, NOTES, RUMORS, AND GOSSIP: THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 2, 2012 - 10:45 A.M.

                    Thanks RF! I am PUMPED UP FOR THIS GAME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


                    • #11
                      Re: NEWS, NOTES, RUMORS, AND GOSSIP: THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 2, 2012 - 12:41 P.M.

                      Darn it! Been busy at work these past days !!!!! Lots of news to catch up ! Thanks RF !
                      " Success is never final, but failure can be " B.P.


                      • #12
                        Re: NEWS, NOTES, RUMORS, AND GOSSIP: THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 2, 2012 - 10:45 A.M.

                        [quote user="BigBlue1971"]

                        thanks Roanoke!

                        exciting lead up to the game. i can hardly wait!

                        Go Giants!


                        Isn't tomorrow Sunday?
                        “Never argue with an idiot. They will only bring you down to their level and beat you with experience.” MB Rule # 1


                        • #13
                          Re: NEWS, NOTES, RUMORS, AND GOSSIP: THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 2, 2012 - 12:41 P.M.

                          [quote user="G-Men Surg."]Darn it! Been busy at work these past days !!!!! Lots of news to catch up ! Thanks RF ![/quote]

                          Get it out of the way so the decks are clear for Sunday
                          “Never argue with an idiot. They will only bring you down to their level and beat you with experience.” MB Rule # 1


                          • #14
                            Re: NEWS, NOTES, RUMORS, AND GOSSIP: THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 2, 2012 - 10:45 A.M.

                            [quote user="NY_Eli"]Thanks RF! I am PUMPED UP FOR THIS GAME!!!!!!!!!!!!!![/quote]

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


                            • #15
                              Re: NEWS, NOTES, RUMORS, AND GOSSIP: THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 2, 2012 - 10:45 A.M.

                              [quote user="lttaylor56"]Unbelievable week this has been. Thanks RF.

                              Bill Parcells chose significant players for each team last night in his "Bill Parcell's Super Bowl Confidential" 1 hour special.
                              He chose:

                              NYG-A Bradshaw
                              Pats-A Hernandez

                              Bill predicts the team with the fewest mistakes wins.

                              This one is going to be a chess match, I cannot wait.[/quote]

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