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NY Times: On a Day of Talk, Burress’s Words Anger Giants Coach


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Seems like pretty mild stuff... :2cents:

January 30, 2008



GLENDALE, Ariz. — In training camp six months ago, Giants Coach Tom Coughlin unveiled the season’s theme and had it printed on T-shirts: “Talk is cheap. Play the game.”

His players wore the shirts and wrapped themselves with the mantra. And with a smoldering confidence, devoid of the controversial chatter that served as a distracting soundtrack to seasons past, the surprising — and surprisingly quiet — Giants muscled their way to the Super Bowl.

They are showing signs that they can no longer contain themselves. Receiver Plaxico Burress, whose play has often been brilliant and whose words had been relentlessly understated, glibly predicted a Giants victory, and even a score: 23-17.

He repeated it in front of the herd of reporters and unblinking cameras at the unofficial kickoff to the Super Bowl hype, media day at University of Phoenix Stadium.

And just like that, the Super Bowl had its first verbal tussle, a headline-snaring war of semantics.

“It’s O.K. to want to win, think big and dream,” Burress said. “We’re going to take this thing back to New York City.”

No matter how Burress’s words are interpreted — as a prediction, a guarantee or just an honest answer — Coughlin was not pleased to learn of them.

“This is not how we’ve done things all year,” said Coughlin, sitting near Burress in another of the dunking booth-type podiums that lined one sideline of the pristine field.

Whatever conversation he planned to have with Burress after the session would remain private, Coughlin added.

Burress assured himself a starring role in the pregame hype and a likely supporting role in the Patriots’ motivational methods. Late in the regular season, Pittsburgh defensive back Anthony Smith guaranteed a victory against the unbeaten Patriots. Instead, he was burned repeatedly during a Patriots victory, and the winners admitted to a certain glee.

“We do things differently,” Patriots linebacker Mike Vrabel said when asked about Burress. “I’m from the school of do more and say less.”

The Giants spent all season attending those same classes. But they arrived Tuesday in a playful and confident mood.

Defensive end Michael Strahan laughed and sang for the cameras.

Coughlin was gregarious and animated. Quarterback Eli Manning smiled through all the questions he has heard countless times before.

No one had as much fun as Burress. Wearing gold Prada glasses, dime-sized diamond-stud earrings and a diamond crucifix on a gold chain, he broke free of the T-shirt-and-a-dull-quote persona that the Giants had mastered.

When a 9-year-old reporter from Scholastic News asked a question, Burress told him to join him on the podium. He put his arm around the boy’s shoulder and pointed to the stands.

“You see all those seats?” Burress asked. “They’re going to be filled Sunday. You see this podium with my name on it? I’m telling you, it’s the greatest feeling in the world.”

It was as if the Giants, and especially Burress, were emerging from the shell they have kept themselves in all season, finally ready to absorb the attention that comes with reaching the Super Bowl.

At one point, Burress said that if the two rosters were examined side by side, people would think “we would win the football game.” Later, he said, “They’re definitely a better team than we are.”

Reporters tried to lure Burress into uttering the word “guarantee,” part of a tired, perennial quest to find a bold, Joe Namath-like character to carry the story line. Burress neither used the word nor retreated from his prediction.

“I don’t understand what the problem is,” Burress said. “The goal is to come here and win, not just to step out here on Sunday and say, ‘Yeah, I’m playing in the Super Bowl.’ ”

Some of his words were reminiscent of two years ago, when Seattle tight end Jerramy Stevens was asked about Pittsburgh running back Jerome Bettis, who was trying to win his first Super Bowl in his last game.

“It’s a heartwarming story and all that,” Stevens said. “But it will be a sad day when he leaves without that trophy.”

That quote created the week’s primary story line. The Steelers won and reveled in the echo of Stevens’s words

Burress, however, might have only been taking a cue from the top of the Giants’ organization. Steve Tisch, the team’s co-owner and chairman, could not help but make a prediction, too, in an interview last week with The Record of Hackensack, N.J.

“I’m not going to give you the score,” Tisch said. “We’ll have more points than they do. That’s my score.”

On Tuesday, Tisch explained that he was simply caught up in the team’s success.

“It’s just plain, old-fashioned, unabashed enthusiasm,” Tisch said.

Nearby, John Mara, another co-owner and the team’s president, cringed when he heard about Burress, and shrugged when he was asked about Tisch.

“Steve’s enjoying this ride,” Mara said. “That’s fine with me. I think maybe it’s not making guarantees; really what he did was make a prediction. It’s now evolved into the point where it’s characterized as a guarantee. I’m not sure that’s quite fair.”

Maybe not. But during Super Bowl week, once something is said, it cannot be taken back. And with the game several days away, there promises to be plenty more said than done.

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After what he said about Art Monk needing to be in the H.O.F., the guy's alright in my book. Besides, Coughlin probably is PO'd as soon as he gets up in the morning. What's Burress supposed to say?

"Oh, we don't have a shot. We are gonna get steamrolled. We don't deserve to be here."

Gimmie a break.

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