HERE NOW THE NEWS
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NFC EAST DIVISION CHAMPIONS
PLAYOFFS 2 - 0: ON TO THE OTHER BAY!
NEWARK STAR LEDGER
DONTE WHITNER SAYS 49ERS WILL LET PADS TALK AGAINST "****Y" GIANTS
"Jim Harbaugh warned his players that the Giants would be in no short supply of
bulletin board material this week. So when Antrel Rolle declared that his team
could not be beat, it seemed right on cue.ELI MANNING LEAVE PRACTICE WITH STOMACH BUG
They expected things to go this way, fully anticipating a "****y" team.
"I would say yes (they're ****y), even watching them when they were going to
play the New York Jets, I don't know if that's their philosophy, I don't know if
their psychologist up there is trying to get into our head or something but we
don't plan on taking the bait," safety Donte Whitner said. "We plan on going out
there, working, preparing the same way and when we get out there at the end of
the fourth quarter, let the chips fall where they may."
On Monday, the same day Rolle's comments were made, Whitner posted this on
his Twitter page: “Out here in San Fran we'll let our Shoulder Pads do all the
talking … haha.”
Added tackle Anthony Davis: “Are the Giants doing drunk interviews? Lol.”
But they were determined to leave it at that, predicting that Sunday, any
bravado will be answered on the field. Whitner, for example, was the one who
knocked out Saints running back Pierre Thomas last Saturday with a devastating
blow that knocked him out for the remainder of the game.
"If you watch film and you see secondary guys out there getting physical
sometimes it gets into offensive guys' minds, sometimes they pay more attention
to the defender than they do to the football and that causes some drops, some
tips, some overthrows so hopefully that's why we do it," he said. "Because we
want that to be in their head."
* * *
It wasn't all tough talk here in Saints camp, though. Here's what Whitner had
to say about the trio of Victor Cruz, Hakeem Nicks and Mario Manningham:
"I compare these guys to the receiving group up in Pittsburgh, the Saints and
Green Bay. They're all the same, they're all the same guys. These guys are
really good, they can all play the slot, they can all play the X or the Z, which
gives them opportunities to move guys around so that you can't double one guy or
get a beat on what they're doing. So, I would say these guys are at the top of
"Now (instead of Victor Cruz) it's Hakeem Nicks, he's out there, he's making
a lot of plays, he's trying to set records for receiving yards and touchdowns in
the first couple games of the playoffs and that's the guy we're really going to
have to understand where he's at at all times."
* * *
Harbaugh said that TE Delanie Walker (jaw) would practice today but that he
wasn't sure about Sunday. He said he needed to see how Walker responded to
treatment and some extended work in practice.
* * *
Harbaugh said that he's heard from Ronnie Lott and Steve Young this
"Very very positive, very excited for the fellas," he said.
* * *
When asked what the biggest difference in the Giants now and when he beat
them back in Week 10, Harbaugh said:
"Well, they were playing really good at that time and they're playing really
good now. I think they're a healthier team, then when we played them, but this
is a Super Bowl contending team and that's who they are, offensively,
defensively, special teams, a class team. They don't give you things, they don't
let you have what they want, they don't make mistakes."
"As the Giants began their week of preparation for the NFC Championship Game,
quarterback Eli Manning left today's practice early with what coach Tom Coughlin
called "a stomach bug."
"Hopefully it is just a 24-hour deal," Coughlin said, "and he’ll feel better
Manning was in meetings all morning, and he participated in the jog-thru
period of practice and took a few reps, but was sent inside when he felt ill.
Back-up David Carr took over and said he took about 75 percent of today's
Manning was scratched from his usual Wednesday media availability. He has not
missed practice all season, but Carr said Manning's reduced reps shouldn't
affect the team during a critical week.
"If he didn’t have the red-belt mastery of the offense then maybe, but he
does," Carr said. "It's not something that is going to affect him. The biggest
thing would be the players, the rest of the guys. So what I try to do is go in
and do exactly what he would do, keep it consistent, so their practice and their
Wednesday was as normal as possible, and I think that it was."
Guard Chris Snee was also not overly concerned, saying that if anyone could
miss practice and play well Sunday, it is Manning. He said Manning was at the
facility Monday and Tuesday and has the game plan down.
"I'm actually going to bring him some soup tomorrow," Snee said. "I’ll do
whatever it takes to make sure he is at full strength."
GIANTS' LB MARK HERZLICH RETURNS TO PRACTICE
"Late last week LB Mark Herzlich said if the Giants beat the Packers on Sunday
he hoped to return to practice this week. It wasn't a certainty, but Herzlich,
who was the only Giant not to make the trip to Lambeau, was optimistic after
working on his ankle pain-free.49ERS KEY IN NFC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME AGAINST GIANTS WILL BE FIELD POSITION, TURNOVERS, AS IT HAS BEEN ALL SEASON
Today he's practicing for the first time since fracturing his ankle against
the Saints on Nov. 28, which forced him to miss the last seven games. Herzlich,
who had earned a starting spot when he was injured, was participating in the
routine drills with his fellow linebackers without any sign of hindrance during
the portion of the session open to the media.
Herzlich's return left RB Ahmad Bradshaw as the only player sitting out
today, but that's to be expected -- Bradshaw only has only practiced on Fridays
since he has returned from a foot injury. Bradshaw was watching practicing from
a stationary bike.
That means the Giants have everyone as healthy as they can get for this late
in a season and the healthiest they've been all season.
The three other players on the Giants pre-practice injury report -- Justin
Tuck (shoulder), Osi Umenyiora (ankle/knee) and Corey Webster (hamstring) --
were also practicing during the portion open to the media."
Lynch, San Francisco Chronicle: The Giants have history stacked against them
as they look to finish this year's postseason run with two more victories: No
team to finish the regular season 9-7 has ever won the Super Bowl. But
Sunday's opponent will also be swimming against an historical current. The San
Francisco 49ers entered the postseason with the No. 26 ranked offense in the
NFL, by total offense. The lowest a Super Bowl champion's offense has been
ranked by that metric has been No. 24, when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers beat the
Oakland Raiders in 2003. The 49ers have maneuvered around their shortcomings,
though, compensating with an insatiably forceful defense and razor-edged special
teams units. The 49ers finished No. 11 in the NFL in scoring -- thanks to the
defensive and special teams phases who provided starting field position in
opponents' territory an NFL-high 37 times -- while reaching 14 wins this
Cam Inman, San Jose
Mercury News: The 49ers turned opponents over 38 times during the regular
season, an NFL high that continued last weekend when they registered a plus-four
in turnover differential against the New Orleans Saints. The stat is
historically a predictor of success for NFL teams, but particularly for the
49ers. In postseason games in which they have the higher turnover differential,
the 49ers are 19-1.
Branch, San Francisco Chronicle: The Giants' confident declarations about
their level of play have been answered by the 49ers via Twitter. Donte Whitner,
safety who has helped set San Francisco's confidence and physicality with his
hard hits and hissing barbs leveled at opponents, responded by tweeting,
"Out here in San Fran we let our Shoulder Pads do all the talking….haha.”
Anthony Davis, formerly Rutgers' left tackle and outspoken tweeter, asked, "Are
the Giants doing drunk interviews? Lol.” Read more...
D'ALESSANDRO: TREY JUNKIN NOT THE SCAPEGOAT IN GIANTS' 2003 LOSS TO THE 49ERS
Excerpt: "Nine years after the infamous climax to a historic collapse, you still blame
one guy. Go ahead, you can admit it: Around your household, which probably
hasn’t been the same since, you probably refer to it as Junkin’s Blunder or
Junkin’s Folly or anything that might describe a 7-yard snap that only travels 5
yards, vulgarities optional.
“All I know is,” Jim Fassel says now, “if anyone can blame that game on one
player, they didn’t watch the whole game.”
Perhaps that’s the problem with the events of Jan. 5, 2003 — it wasn’t just
It was an NFL playoff encounter with multiple subplots, an implausible
momentum shift, an unprecedented officiating blunder, and one scapegoat. His
name was Trey Junkin, a 41-year-old long snapper who contributed in a small but
profound way during the Giants’ last
postseason visit to San Francisco — an epic, wild-card meltdown that punched the
ticket of a team that had a 24-point lead and a dormant death wish.
And when the Giants’ litany of screw-ups resulted in a head-banging, 39-38
defeat, Planet Blue had its Bill Buckner.
We always found that somewhat amusing — you blow a 38-14 lead with 20 minutes
to play and you blame the deep snapper? — and wondered whether Fassel shared
our, uh, amusement. Short answer: He does not, because you can’t find jollity in
the most agonizing defeat of a venerable career — especially one that defiled
his sturdy, seven-year tenure as Giants head coach.
But he doesn’t share the dim-bulb cant that it’s Junkin’s fault, either.
“People forget, Trey was our fourth long snapper that year,” the former
Giants coach said Tuesday from his home outside Vegas. “I didn’t cut any of ’em,
either — they were all injured. So the week before that game, I brought Trey in
because I knew him to be the consummate pro when I had him in Arizona (in
1996).” Read more...
AS GIANTS MAKE PLAYOFFS, TERRELL THOMAS MAKES PROGRESS OF HIS OWN
"There’s no doubt Terrell Thomas would’ve rather been getting a jump on film
study of the 49ers Tuesday instead of running on an AlterG anti-gravity
However, considering it was the first time he ran since undergoing surgery to
repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament in late September, it was a pretty good
day after all.
“This is where the fun starts right now,” the Giants cornerback said by phone from
California before his workout. He had been placed on injured reserve before the
regular season even began after tearing
the ACL in his right knee for the second time.
“This is when you start bending and really seeing the progression in the
knee,” he said. “Before, it was just working on the stability and getting
everything stronger around it.
“The first time I tore my ACL, I never had any setbacks. Everything is going
to accordance so I’m just staying positive and trying to progress.”
It’s a challenge for Thomas to stay upbeat these days. While the Giants are
two games into a potential Super Bowl run and on their way to his home state for
Sunday’s NFC Championship Game in San Francisco, Thomas is “in his own season,”
as he put it.
The free-agent-to-be stayed away most of the past few months after his injury
in a preseason game against the Bears so he could focus on his rehab. But he
made an appearance at the team’s facility a few days before the wild-card game
against the Falcons. That Sunday, he was on the sideline during the pregame
before heading upstairs to the booth so he wouldn’t be a “distraction.”
Though he claims it “wasn’t that tough” because he was there to provide
support, Thomas is dealing with the same issues many injured players experience
— they’re part of the team but can’t help but feel a bit detached.
“The way they really came together this year, obviously we had our ups and
downs and struggled at times, but we played together. That’s the main thing I
missed most and the hardest part,” he said. “Last year, we were a roller
coaster. Sometimes we played as a team and sometimes we were all individuals out
there. But they’re all playing together right now. From offense, defense and
special teams and it’s working for them.
“They had two (playoff) games to win and they did what they had to do.
They’re jelling and they’re hot right now.”
Thomas says he never had a doubt this defense would get its act together,
even as he was sitting at home and watching the breakdowns against the Cowboys.
To him, they were mental issues, not physical ones, so he had a feeling they’d
be ironed out — and they have.
“Not to say my teammates (stink), but just to make a comparison, if a guy
(stinks) or a team (stinks) but they get hot and they believe in themselves,
that’s all that matters,” he said. “They got that mental process out of the way,
they believe in themselves, they’re playing good ball right now and
communicating and having fun. You see that confidence just like it was when they
were winning in the beginning of the season.
“The swagger is back and I don’t think they’re going to lose it.”
Speaking of things Thomas doesn’t expect to be lost, he believes he’ll
maintain the speed and “spring” he had before the surgery. He’s been through
this rehab process before, went to the same surgeon and once again opted for the
cadaver ligament instead of the hamstring tendon as a replacement. Plus, he’s
seeing positive signs early on that have him believing he’ll be as good as
“When you’re able to do things three weeks ahead of schedule like I have,
it’s definitely a positive,” he said, adding this about the two rehabs:
“Comparing my knee from then to now it feels the same way.”
The only question is whether the Giants will be the ones to potentially
benefit from such a recovery.
In a little less than two months, he’ll hit the market as an unrestricted
free agent. If he’d stayed healthy, Thomas would’ve been in line for a big
payday, especially since he was working to make more plays on the ball and was
having an outstanding training camp before Jason Pierre-Paul collided with him
with 22 seconds left in the first half against Chicago. Now, it’s a bit
trickier, as the Giants or another team will have to make an offer based on the
So far, there have been no contract talks. The team is focused on the current
season, and Thomas is providing support.
But pretty soon, he’ll get to feel included once again.
“I’m getting excited. It’s my time now,” he said. “I got hurt and had my
surgery and now it’s my time. Once they win this game and go to the Super Bowl,
once the season’s over, it’s all about me hopefully re-signing with the Giants
and moving forward.”
Thomas thanked the fans for lifting his spirits during his recovery, which is
why he's tried to keep them in the loop on his recovery via the blog on his website.
"My Twitter family and
all my followers have made me feel appreciated and never made me feel lost," he
said. "I get countless tweets about, 'We miss you out there, can’t wait to see
you back on the field,' and so on and so on. I definitely appreciate it. I know
the truth behind it, I’m out here in LA rehabbing and in my own season but I
definitely feel and appreciate the support from my team and the Giants fans."
WHILE GIANTS SHINE IN GREEN BAY, MARAS STAR ON RED CARPET AT GOLDEN GLOBE AWARDS
Excerpt: "He was walking down the red carpet at the Golden Globes, a march with the
Hollywood elite that millions would die to make. And all Chris Mara wanted was a
better glimpse of that damn TV monitor.
There it was, so frustratingly close, outside the velvet ropes. Mara could
see that it had the Giants game on. But,
thanks to his poor eyesight and all those view-blocking celebrities — Hey,
Tom Hanks, down in front! — he could barely make out what was happening a
few thousand miles away in slightly less glamorous Green Bay.
“Did we just intercept that?!” Mara asked his wife.
No, he was told. Giants cornerback Aaron Ross had just knocked down a pass.
It was still in the third quarter, the divisional playoff game between the
Packers and Giants still in doubt, and his talented daughter Rooney was wowing
the papar***i in a black Nina Ricci gown. But she was stopping every 10 feet for
another interview, and her dad was running out of patience.
Rooney, the breakout star from “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo,” was
nominated for best actress in a drama — a field that included superstars Meryl
Streep and Glenn Close. Her father had missed his first Giants playoff game in
40 years to be at her side, a decision that ranked among the easiest in his
“Somebody said, ‘Jeez, you’re missing the Giants game,’?” Mara said, who
replied, “Yeah, this isn’t exactly a piano recital.”
But he warned Rooney: He would not linger on the red carpet. It wasn’t
exactly like the photographers were waiting to se what the Giants’ senior vice
president of player evaluation was wearing (which, for the record, was a vintage
Brooks Brothers suit with a Johnny-O tie).
So, as soon as he had an opening, Mara made like Victor Cruz and broke away
from the crowd. He hustled down the carpet and up to a suite in the Beverly
Hilton, where a couple of Sony executives told him that they’d be watching the
This is how Sunday went for Mara. If 45.1 million people watched the
Packers-Giants game, and another 16.8 million watched the Golden Globes, then
about a quarter of the country had some interest in what his family was doing.
Mara was desperate to watch both, and this led to one of the wildest days of
his life. He caught the first quarter in his hotel room, then watched most of
the second quarter in his daughter’s room." Read more...
IF THE GIANTS BEAT SAN FRANCISCO AND GO ON TO WIN THE SUPER BOWL, THEY WOULD BE THE WORST CHAMPION EVER, RECORD-WISE
"If the Giants march on to win the Super Bowl next month in Indianapolis, they
will bring glory to their blue jerseys and gild the careers of Eli
Manning and Tom Coughlin. They
also will make history, and not necessarily the good kind, by becoming the worst
team ever to capture an NFL championship in any form.49ERS DEFENSIVE BACKS SETTING PHYSICAL TONE FOR DOMINATING DEFENSE
Excerpt: "The change in the San Francisco 49ers' attitude this season might be most
evident when the defensive backs gather in a team meeting room each week to
watch the highlight video from the previous game.
Secondary coach Ed Donatell counts and compares the number of "domination
hits" in a fierce and friendly competition among players. The challenge is for
each to deliver at least one crushing -- but legal -- blow on an opponent every
"We're not really trying to hurt people," safety Donte Whitner said. "But
when we play physical, people get hurt."
The hard-hitting, ball-hawking secondary has created its share of imposing
images for San Francisco (14-3) this season, part of a defense that has carried
the franchise back to the NFC Championship Game for the first time in 14 years
to face the Giants (11-7) on Sunday at Candlestick Park.
Whitner and fellow safety Dashon Goldson were a last-minute pairing in
training camp. Goldson seemed certain he wouldn't return after Whitner signed as
a free agent from the Buffalo Bills, even tweeting goodbye to 49ers fans only to
have the franchise re-sign him days later.
The same might've been said for cornerbacks Carlos Rogers and Tarell Brown.
San Francisco cut high-priced cornerback Nate Clements -- who received an $80
million, eight-year contract in March 2007 but never met expectations -- just
before training camp in favor of a duo that had its share of problems picking
General manager Trent Baalke's decisions in the secondary have turned into
49ers gold, building the back-end of a defense that led the NFL with 38
takeaways -- including a half-dozen interceptions each for Rogers and Goldson --
with a physical foursome that is drawing comparisons to the Pittsburgh Steelers
and Baltimore Ravens of recent years.
"They really bring a tone-setting physicality to their tackling," 49ers coach
Jim Harbaugh said.
Take last week for instance.
Setting the stage for a collision-filled 36-32 victory over the New Orleans
Saints, Goldson walked out for the team's first practice wearing his game-day
eye black. Whitner put in his mouthpiece for the full-padded practice -- rare
for NFL teams this late in the season -- and warned his teammates about what to
"I told them, 'Get out of my way, because I'm going to hit everything that's
moving,'" Whitner said.
He delivered on his promise." Read more...
NY DAILY NEWS
HAKEEM NICKS, GIANTS FEATURED ON COVER OF SPORTS ILLUSTRATED IN ADVANCE OF NFC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME AGAINST 49ERS
GIANTS' DB ANTREL ROLLE IS READY TO PREY ON 49ERS AND ISSUES A WARNING TO VERNON DAVIS
"When 49ers tight end Vernon Davis
was watching the Giants-Packers game on Sunday, he admitted he “prayed” for the
Giants to win, so the NFC Championship Game would be played in San
Francisco.MANNING AND COUGHLIN TWO WINS AWAY FROM SHOT AT THE HALL OF FAME
His prayers were obviously answered. But Antrel Rolle warned
Davis that might not be a good thing for his team.
“They better be careful what they ask for,” Rolle said. “Because their wish
has been granted.”
During his weekly paid spot on WFAN Rolle said, “I can only hope he was
saying that because they wanted to get a home game,” and that did appear to be
the case. Davis wasn’t the only one praying for a specific outcome last weekend
either. On Monday, Giants receiver Victor Cruz admitted
that San Francisco’s win over the New Orleans Saints “definitely works out in
our favor a little bit.”
The Giants narrowly lost to the 49ers in San Francisco, 27-20, on Nov. 13.
Two weeks later they got hammered in New Orleans, 49-24.
Not that Rolle really cared who the Giants would face — as long as they were
playing in the NFC title game.
“I don’t give a damn who we’re playing, man,” Rolle said. “That’s my take.
I’ll take any opponent, any given day. That’s my attitude. If someone has a
problem with it, oh well. But that’s how I am. That’s how I was raised. I don’t
shy away from any opponent. My heart doesn’t pump any Kool-Aid, only blood. I’m
ready for whenever, however, whatever, however it gets to me. I’m ready for
So, since Rolle said “We can’t be beat” on Monday, who does he want the
Giants to face in Super Bowl XLVI — the Patriots or the Ravens?
“I want the San Francisco 49ers,” Rolle said. “And we’re going to get them
"When Tom Coughlin and Eli
Manning walked off the field after a terrible home loss to the Redskins in
December, nobody was comparing them to Vince Lombardi and
Starr, or Bill Walsh
and Joe Montana. Some still
wanted Coughlin fired. Others argued Manning still wasn’t “elite.”So even if the Giants win Super Bowl XLVI it’s too early to plan any trips to
Now, exactly one month later, the idea of Coughlin and Manning as football
immortals may not be as absurd as it once seemed. They are two wins away from
earning their second Super Bowl title together.
And if they do, they might just cement future spots for themselves in the Pro
Football Hall of Fame.
It’s not quite that automatic and it’s definitely premature, according to
several of the 44 members of the Hall of Fame’s selection committee who spoke to
the Daily News on Tuesday. But a second championship would go a long, long way
toward earning both men and eventual bust in Canton. Only one eligible
quarterback has ever won two Super Bowls and not been elected to the Hall — Jim
Plunkett. Six of the nine eligible coaches with two Super Bowl rings are in,
Coughlin and Manning have built impressive — but not quite immortal —
resumes, said the voters. A second title could make the difference when their
names eventually come up.
“I think it does matter,” said Sports Illustrated’s Peter King, a long-time
member of the selection committee. “Historically it has. But I don’t think
historically it’s meant that it makes them a lock.”
“It can push a guy over the top,” added Vinny DiTrani, a
former long-time Giants writer and Hall of Fame voter for The Record (Bergen
County, N.J.). “If a guy has phenomenal numbers, it’s not going to hurt him. But
if you’re a guy on the edge, that’ll push you over.
“How many winning teams did that guy play on or coach for? How many
championship teams? That comes into play.”
It always has come into play as part of a larger equation when the selection
committee meets the day before each Super Bowl to whittle down a list of
finalists into that year’s Hall of Fame class. How much it matters is hard to
say, since the committee has changed many times over the years.
The odds clearly go way up, though, for candidates with multiple titles —
especially for coaches and quarterbacks who almost always get historical credit
for those wins. The only quarterback to win two Super Bowls and not make the
Hall when eligible was the former Raider Plunkett.
Among the eligible coaches, the Raiders’ Tom Flores, Dallas’ Jimmy
Johnson and San Francisco’s George Seifert (two
each) have missed. Bill Parcells is a
finalist this year.
Canton. About the only thing another ring will guarantee is that both men will
someday get a very serious look.GIANTS'
“If they can pull this off, it will certainly add to their legacy and make
them serious candidates,” said David Elfin, a
seven-year member of the committee who works for WUSA in Washington, D.C. “But
it’s not just about the rings.”
“Two Super Bowls is one way to look at something, and it’s significant,” King
added. “But you have to look at more than that. This isn’t baseball where if you
hit 500 homers or you have 3,000 hits, you’re in. There isn’t a gold standard
you can reach as a player or coach. That’s why I hate to sit here and say ‘If
Eli wins a second Super Bowl he’s in.’ ”
Even without the rings, Coughlin and Manning have built pretty good resumes.
Coughlin has a career winning percentage of only .557 (152-121, including
playoffs), but he ranks 19th in wins in NFL history. This will be his fourth
conference championship game, including one in his second year with an expansion
franchise. If the Giants win on Sunday, the 65-year-old Coughlin would tie Tom
Landry for most road playoff wins of all time.
Manning threw for nearly 5,000 yards this season, is well on his way to
re-writing the Giants’ record book and has already surpassed 27,000 career
yards. He won a Super Bowl MVP and engineered arguably the greatest final drive
in Super Bowl history. And at age 31, he could still have another 4-5 good years
left — maybe more.
It’s possible both men would get Hall of Fame consideration some day even
without a second ring. King said the Giants’ wild run to Super Bowl XLII was
“one of the great playoff runs by a quarterback in NFL history” and Manning will
likely get “extra credit for that because of how ridiculous an accomplishment
that was.” That goes on Coughlin’s list of accomplishments, too.
Their candidacies also may hinge on what happens next. If Coughlin doesn’t
retire, he could coach another 2-3 years and pick up 20-30 wins that King said
would put him “in the Hall of Fame stratosphere.” Manning’s numbers could come
close to those of his Hall of Fame-bound brother Peyton.
Then again, maybe none of that would matter if they were both two-time
champions when their names were presented to the board of selectors. Maybe they
will have already done enough.
“Championships do matter,” said Dave Goldberg, a
former Associated Press writer who has been on the selection committee for more
than 20 years. “They do to the point there are certain guys in the Hall that
have never won one, and people say ‘Why are these guys in there if they never
won a title?’
“It’s not an automatic thing, but it can be a factor to people who might be
on the bubble a little bit,” DiTrani added. “If you have great stats you’re
going to get in. If you have really, really good stats, that might put you over
the top. But if you have those two rings and not the body of work to back it up,
it doesn’t matter at all."
ELI MANNING TURNS OUT TO BE RIGHT FIT FOR NEW YORK, JUST AS ERNIE
ARCORSI, JOHN MARA, AND ARCHIE MANNING THOUGHT ON DRAFT DAY
"The question to the Giants general manager, Jerry Reese, was about
defensive pressure on Eli Manning, the kind
he didn’t get from the Packers on Sunday at Lambeau Field, which is why he
seemed to have all day every time he needed to throw the ball down the field, no
matter how many yards he needed.http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/football/giants
Me: “What game this season do you feel Eli faced the most pressure?” Just
because he is going to get more of that from the 49ers in San Francisco than he
ever got in Green Bay.
Reese: “All of them. He’s the QB of the New York Giants. You know what I
When it was pointed out to Reese that I really did mean defensive pressure,
his answer came back this way: “Hard call. Most teams blitz us like crazy
because it is hard to get pressure in this league with four-man fronts
The better response, though, was the first one from Jerry Reese, about all
the pressure Eli has faced since he got to the Giants, since he wanted the
Giants coming out of Ole Miss, once it became clear that he didn’t want to go
play for the Chargers, that he wanted to come to the Giants, wanted the big
stage and big football history. Wasn’t afraid of the spotlight that came with
being the quarterback of the Giants.
Eli’s agent, Tom Condon, couldn’t
come out and say it in the winter and spring of 2004. But he sure wanted the
Giants all along, even knowing the Chargers had the first pick in the draft.
Condon knew how much Ernie Accorsi, the
Giants general manager at the time, wanted Eli Manning. Still: No one was sure
until it was the Giants’ turn to draft that day in April of ’04 that the trade
with the Chargers, who had already taken Eli with that first pick, would
But it did happen. Of course Accorsi will always get his props for pulling
the whole thing off. But everybody in the league knows what one general manager
told me yesterday: “It doesn’t happen without Condon.”
If Condon wanted the
Giants all along, so did the Manning family. Which means Eli did. So the kid is
the great Giant who chose New York as much as it chose him. The other legendary
quarterbacks from Giants history were either drafted, or got traded here.
Eli Manning wanted it all. Four years after he was drafted, he won it all,
won the Giants as famous a Super Bowl as anybody ever played. Four years later
he tries to beat the 49ers on Sunday and go back to the Super Bowl, maybe to
play the Patriots again. If it happens this time, it surprises nobody, certainly
not Eli himself.
Nobody was surprised that he went into Lambeau Field in January and beat the
Packers again. And nobody should have been surprised that he and Victor
Cruz got together for that 99-yard touchdown on the day when the Giants
couldn’t lose to the Jets. Or that when the Cowboys game seemed to be going the
wrong way in the last game of the regular season, he got out of the pocket on
third down and threw one over 40 yards to Cruz like he was throwing it to David
Tyree in the Super Bowl.
And when the Packers foolishly gave him a few extra seconds at the end of the
first half on Sunday at Lambeau, he threw his perfect “Flood Tip” jump ball pass
to Hakeem Nicks, put that
ball exactly where he had to, as if it was on some kind of string. He saves his
best for the biggest moments. He has that kind of game. You either do or you
don’t. He is the quiet one out of the Manning quarterbacks, and he is the one
who ends up being this kind of star in New York.
“Sometimes it’s as if he doesn’t exist until he shows up on Sunday to be
quarterback of the Giants,” Phil Simms told me
yesterday. “Eight years in New York and his biggest controversy is saying he’s
It wasn’t just that he didn’t want to go play for the Chargers, that Archie Manning was
scared his youngest son would get stuck on a dead-end team the way he had gotten
stuck on one in New Orleans. Eli wanted to come here. He wanted to take his shot
here. Then his agent and Ernie Accorsi made it happen.
Accorsi was on board with the trade. So was John Mara. So were John’s
brothers, Chris and Frank. But the late Wellington Mara
wasn’t so sure. It wasn’t because he wasn’t sure about Eli Manning. It was
because of Mr. Mara’s immense loyalty, because Kerry Collins had
taken the Giants to a Super Bowl a few years before, and he knew that drafting
Eli would be the end of Collins.
But finally on draft day, in the room with Accorsi and his sons, John Mara
said his father finally “weakened.”
“He saw that we all had a conviction,” John said.
The rest is history. Mr. Mara died in 2005. He did not see the Super Bowl
against the Patriots, did not see Eli honor the conviction of the people in the
draft room that day, April of ’04, did not see the pass to Tyree or the one to
Plaxico Burress in
the corner of the end zone that won it for the Giants, won what John Mara called
that night “the greatest victory in the history of this franchise.”
They were all right, all the ones who thought Eli was made for the job, for
New York. He didn’t come to be a celebrity, just quarterback of the
GIANTS' PASSING GAME COULD SLIP AGAINST 49ERS IF WEATHER IS BAD
Excerpt: "There is zero percent chance the Giants will be able to operate their
high-flying passing attack at peak efficiency Sunday against the 49ers in the
NFC Championship. Anyone who thinks they can is all wet.