Eli Manning can't for Super Bowl. He couldn't even wait for the annual media day.
The New York Giants quarterback arrived five minutes early for the Giants' session on Tuesday, brought about 4,000 credentialed members of the media to the University of Phoenix Stadium. Why arrive early just to address questions from the media horde? Blame the N.Y. coach.
"I guess I was on Coughlin Time," Manning said.
Coughlin, one of the NFL's well-known disciplinarians, tells his players that being on time for team meetings means you actually arrived late. But Manning's OK with that.
"I guess that is so ingrained in us I don't even notice anymore. I live my life being five minutes early," he said.
That kind of discipline may help the Giants, double-digit underdogs against the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLII. Every N.Y. player said they can't wait to play the undefeated Patriots, who edged N.Y. 38-35 in their regular-season finale. That kind of result has given the Giants plenty of confidence for Sunday.
"People act like it would take lightning to strike for us to win this game. But we're not shaking in our boots," said linebacker Antonio Pierce.
Another good showing against New England doesn't have any appeal, either.
"The goal is to win the football game. That's it. The goal is to go out and be great. The goal is to beat Brady," said receiver Plaxico Burress.
Defensive end Michael Strahan, one of three Giants who was on the 2000 squad that lost to the Baltimore Ravens in Super Bowl XXXV, admits the Giants may be the underdogs, but even that could play into their favor. After all, do fans like to root for Goliath?
If the defense can slow down Tom Brady and the New England offense, the biggest key to a Giants' win very well could be Manning, who has played the best football of his NFL career during the playoffs.
Manning's 20 interceptions tied for the NFL lead this season, but he's thrown four touchdowns and no picks in the Giants' three postseason games. Those came on the heels of a four-touchdown, one-interception performance in the loss to the Patriots.
How has Manning turned it around? His supportive teammates say it's all about Manning's mental attitude.
"The thing you try to do is just keep him upbeat," receiver Amani Toomer said. "Keep him upbeat, keep him positive and let his ability take over."
It's easier said than done in the Super Bowl, but Manning, relaxed and genial during media day, appears to be off to that kind of start.
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