PHOENIX -- After 18 seasons of covering the NFL, I've discovered that I can't get through Super Bowl week without the
I can stand just so much drivel about
I'm sure you've heard of Feagles, the Giants' veteran punter. Been around forever. Seems to change teams every few years, although for my money he'll never really top being in Philadelphia from 1990-93, when he wonderfully enough was Feagles of the Eagles. He's been an NFL fixture for so long that I can't really remember when he wasn't.
I've sought Feagles out this week because for me he's the kind of story still capable of making Super Bowl week a bit special. Talking to the Giants' bald elder statesman is a breath of fresh air amidst the stale pack-mentality journalism that passes for football coverage. If you can't be happy for Feagles, you simply cannot be happy.
Feagles, you see, has been waiting for this Super Bowl week for nearly half of the Super Bowl's lifespan. It's his 20th NFL season, and his first trip to the Big Game. He'll be 42 in March -- the Super Bowl turns 42 this week -- and that makes him the oldest player to ever make it to Super Sunday. The guy's so old that his teammates have taken to swiping his jock out of his locker and replacing it with a Depends.
But the joke is definitely not on Feagles anymore. He has already played in an NFL-record 320 consecutive games, and owns the league marks for punts (1,585), punting yardage (65,793) and punts inside the 20 yard line (508). And now he gets to finally play in the Super Bowl -- in his hometown, no less.
"You would think that after 20 years, the law of averages would be that I would have been in a couple," Feagles said this week. "That makes this one so much more special, it really does. We have 10 rookies on the team this year, and I've talked to about six of them. I've told those guys, 'Do you know how lucky you are to be going to Phoenix? You have no idea, you really don't.' "
Feagles knows. When he broke into the NFL as a rookie free agent with New England in 1988,
But before New York's dramatic overtime win at Green Bay almost two weeks ago, Feagles had never even played in a conference title game, let alone been on the winning side of one. Prior to this season, he hadn't played in a divisional round playoff game since 1992, with Philadelphia.
So when Giants kicker
"I really didn't lose heart when he missed the first one," Feagles told me. "But the second one, I was like, 'This really could be the end.' But for some reason, the way our defense was playing, I didn't think we wouldn't have another chance. And when we walked out there for the game-winning (47-yard) field goal, I just had a feeling that it was going to happen. Finally."
After Tynes took off like a crazy man for the Giants locker room, it was Feagles who actually jumped in
"Year after year, watching it on TV, watching guys you had on your team previously play for another team that goes on to the Super Bowl, that gets kind of old," Feagles said. "I've never attended a Super Bowl in all my years. I kept holding out, holding out, deciding I wasn't going to go until I could experience it as a player. It's taken this long, but I'm glad I waited."
For me, Feagles is this year's antidote to Super Bowl overkill, and a reminder that some Super Bowl stories are far sweeter than others.
Brady was smiling when he said it, but don't think for a minute that the Patriots weren't listening for the intent in Brady's message. I asked Patriots V.P. of personnel
"Did he say that?" Pioli asked. "Maybe Brady is going to do this negotiation for me. That's good.
"That's encouraging that Randy feels that way. We'll deal with that first thing next week, and I mean that. We'll be dealing with his situation and others' situations as soon as the season's over. But that's encouraging to hear."
• We've all heard again and again about the Giants' league-record 10-game road winning streak -- although the win over Miami in London was really a neutral-site game, wasn't it? -- but did you know that New York is the first Super Bowl team to ever lose five home games?
The Giants went 3-5 this season at home, although in fairness, they did fall to some pretty good competition at the Meadowlands. Four of New York's five home losses were to playoff qualifiers: New England, Dallas, Green Bay and Washington. Minnesota, which finished 8-8, was the lone non-playoff team.
• Anyone know for sure where
This week, one popular line of questioning to Giants players has been whether quarterback Eli Manning has somehow benefited from not having the burden of feeding Shockey the ball? The thinking being that Manning has the freedom now to find the open receiver, rather than making sure Shockey is happy. A notion that can't make Shockey happy.
"Not true, not true," Giants middle linebacker
• I think I want to go home now. We've reached that point in the week where most of the media is out of legitimate bullets, and folks are starting to fire away with nonsense. The
In other news, I heard reporters fired numerous questions at
I'm so proud to be a journalist.
• I don't know why so many people seem to be getting all upset about the fact that both the
And then there's the heat that Boston mayor
Hey, I wrote that the Patriots were absolutely going 19-0 back in October, when they were a mere 7-0, and nobody has given me any guff.
• My mindless question of the week award goes to the reporter I heard ask Eli Manning if he was tired of being identified as
• It's Super Bowl time, and that means the Patriots win by three on a late field goal, right? At least that's the way it always worked for ex-New England kicker
"If it comes down to it, I'll be ready," said Patriots second-year kicker
Careful, Stevie. Somebody will overhear you and claim you predicted the Patriots will score 49 points on the Giants.
• I watch
I asked Jacobs if he can ever see fear in the eyes of those poor DBs, and if he knows which guys really want no part in trying to tackling him?
"Sometimes you can kind of watch film before the game and figure out who wants to tackle you and who doesn't," Jacobs said. "The guys who go low and dive at your legs are the guys who don't want to go to the trouble of trying to tackle you."