Before Super Bowl XLII, TGI identified five key one-on-one battles that New York needed to win in…
Good for you, Giants
His running mate, Amani Toomer, was basically left for dead after a serious injury last season. All he did was lead the Giants with six catches for 84 yards in the Super Bowl.
How about Corey Webster and Sam Madison, both of whom were headed for the waiver wire in the minds of many before and early this season, respectively?
And Lawrence Tynes, who added two NFC Championship Game misses to his two earlier botched extra points before kicking Big Blue to the big dance?
We could go on and on. The point is that this is one of the easiest teams to root for in the history of professional sports.
We'll start at the top. Tom Coughlin was every bit as tough as advertised when he came into town four years ago. There was no secret that Strahan, among others, wanted him to be gone before his first season at the helm even came to an end. He didn't exactly make nice with the media either. But when all was said and done, Coughlin, as rigid a human being as you'll ever meet, was willing to change for the good of the Giants. You can say what you will about Coughlin, but you can never question his heart, desire and love for the New York Giants.
So he changed. He became more patient and understanding with the media. He not only listened to the advice of his players, but often sought it out as well. There was no question here was an entirely new man, willing to reinvent himself at the ripe old age of 61. He had driven the ‘my way or the highway' express his whole life – until now. He wanted to do what was best for the team, not himself. You see, Coughlin constantly preached team, but at the end of the day, he wasn't part of said team. He made sure to improve, and in some cases open, his lines of communication. The result? A coach that will never have to prove anything to anyone ever again.
Coughlin's headed toward a nice, fat, and most importantly much-deserved contract extension. He didn't have to change. Heck, no one would have been surprised if he didn't. But he did. And not for himself, but for his team. For that he should be commended.
Tom Coughlin, you've taken plenty of heat from the fans and media, TGI included. But now you're not only looked upon as a Super Bowl champ, but a heck of a good guy that's darn easy to root for as well. It was wonderful to see Coughlin thoroughly enjoying himself during Super Bowl week.
His former adversary and current ally Strahan couldn't help but poke a little fun at Coughlin after the big win.
"I told him, ‘don't cry on me.' He was a little teary," Strahan smiled. "If he cried he would have definitely lost some cool points."
Coughlin couldn't have kept his cool without Manning, two men that remain joined at the hip.
"I talked to Tom and we talked about the feeling of winning a championship," Manning said. "He wanted us to have that feeling. He had it before when he was (an assistant coach) with the Giants and he wanted us to get that feeling. I talked to him afterward and he said ‘it feels pretty good, doesn't it?' And I said, ‘you can't beat it, you're right.' So it was fun."
As recently as late this season, many fans and media didn't trust that Manning could even get the Giants into the playoffs, let alone lead them all the way to a Super Bowl title. But he stayed calm and cool in his belief in himself, just as if he were about to embark on yet another late game-winning drive. He never said boo when the chips were down, so you sure as heck knew he wasn't going to do any chest-pounding now that he's on top of the football world.
For Strahan and Toomer, the ring's the thing. It took both having to survive the nightmare that was Super Bowl XXXV in Tampa to truly appreciate this. But now it's their time to sit back and enjoy their first title. And no, these weren't just older hangers-on looking for an easy ring, a la Pats LB Junior Seau; these were two of the key contributors to New York's ultimate victory. Toomer, as always, displayed little flash but made all the expected plays.
Strahan continued playing at such a high level that you'd really be surprised to see him hang it up. Yes, he finally got the brass ring, but there still appears there is plenty of Hall-of-Fame caliber football left in number 92.
You can't say enough about the mental and physical toughness of Burress, Webster, Madison and Tynes as well. All four easily could have packed it in. None did and they and their teammates are champions because of it.
And, of course, don't forget about David Diehl, he who couldn't play left tackle if his life depended on it before the season. He sure turned out to have a pretty good year, as well.
Like we said, we could go on and on. But there's really no need. Right now, there's really only one thing that matters in the football world: The New York Giants are Super Bowl Champions.
Enjoy the heck out of this one, folks…
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