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Eli Manning recalls Peyton Manning’s brotherly school of hard knocks

01.31.12 at 1:39 pm ET
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One of the more interesting story lines of this year’s Super Bowl is the idea of Eli Manning playing on brother Peyton‘s home turf in Indianapolis. Since winning the NFC Championship, Eli has downplayed that particular storyline, understandably preferring to talk about his own team than any aspect Peyton adds to the game and atmosphere.

After landing in Indianapolis, however, Eli opened up about his relationship with his brother, humorously recalling ways his brother picked on him as a child. Eli claimed Peyton would quiz him forcefully on different trivia.

‘€œI probably have quite a few of them,’€ Manning said when asked for an example of how Peyton teased him as a child. ‘€œTo limit to one, his most popular move, he would pin me down and take his knuckles and knock on my chest and make me name the 12 schools in the SEC. I didn’€™t know them all at the time, I was six or seven, but I quickly learned them.

‘€œIt was a great learning technique. I don’€™t suggest anyone else try it out but it definitely made me learn the schools of the SEC. Once I figured those out, he moved on to all 28 teams in the NFL at that point. So it was all teams in the NFL so I had to get my studying on for that. Then once I figured that out, the one I never got was the 10 brands of cigarettes. When he really wanted to torture me and knew I had no shot of getting it, that’€™s when I just started screaming for my mom or dad to come save me or maybe [oldest brother] Cooper. That was his go-to move.’€

But life as Peyton Manning’s younger brother was not all that bad, Eli acknowledged by the end of his press conference.

“He has supported me and given me any tips he could think of,” Eli said. “For a Christmas present, he bought me a computer that stores all our software to watch film at home. He would want to do anything for me to be a better quarterback.

“We’ve had a very close relationship. I thank him for all that he’€™s provided me and helping me become a better quarterback.”

In his last statement, Eli offered a tantalizing tidbit on Peyton’s status with the Colts. When asked about specifically about playing on Peyton’s home turf, Eli stumbled over his words in an attempt to figure out how to phrase his response.

“We’ll look back on the fact that I’m playing the Super Bowl in Peyton’s … in the town where he played his NFL ‘€¦ uh, you know plays for the Colts. So we’ll look on that later.”

Peyton’s status with the Colts is unknown following a lost season in which he was recovering from neck surgery. With his health still uncertain and the Colts in possession of the No. 1 pick in the draft this season, it remains to be seen whether Peyton will ever take the field as the Colts’ starting quarterback again. But on Sunday, a Manning will be front and center in pursuit of a Super Bowl.

Read More: Eli Manning, Indianapolis Colts, Peyton Manning,

Rob Gronkowski: ‘No more boot’

01.31.12 at 12:40 pm ET
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INDIANAPOLIS — On Monday, Rob Gronkowski took off the boot that is protecting his left ankle.

On Tuesday at Super Bowl “Media Day” at Lucas Oil Stadium, he said he’s not putting it back on.

“It’s off, no more boot,” Gronkowski told reporters.

Gronkowski will spend Tuesday’s “off day” with Patriots trainers and medical staff.

‘€œI don’€™t know yet,’€ Gronkowski said in answering the question everyone wants the answer to: Will he play Sunday in Super Bowl XLVI?

“We’€™re going day by day,” Gronkowski added. “Making new steps every day, feeling better every day. That’€™s a positive sign and you just want to keep going in the right direction. I want to be out there with the team obviously. I want to help out the team obviously. Just taking it step by step, getting better every single day.’€

Gronkowski repeated the credo of Bill Belichick several times, indicating he is day to day for the game.

Read More: New England Patriots, New York Giants, nfl, Rob Gronkowski

Victor Cruz: ‘Excited’ about exploiting Julian Edelman, Patriots secondary

01.31.12 at 12:22 pm ET
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Giants receiver Victor Cruz, on a podium at Super Bowl Media Day, acknowledged in response to a question from Deion Sanders that he has indeed cracked a smile while watching film of the Patriots secondary. He referred to Patriots receiver/cornerback Julian Edelman in suggesting why the Giants are looking forward to facing the Patriots.

“A little bit,” said Cruz. “You’re watching film, just naturally, when you see one of their defensive backs is a wide receiver and he’s going to be potentially covering you, you automatically get excited and just understand that it’s not his natural position and you want to exploit that. So obviously, as a receiver and as a competitor in general, when you see a matchup that you think you can exploit, you want to take advantage of it.”

Giants defense end Osi Umenyiora, who recently acknowledged that Patriots offensive lineman Matt Light “gets under [his] skin,” was crestfallen to hear that Light was not available during Media Day, reportedly due to illness.

“Matt Light, please get well soon,” Umenyiora said at Media Day. “I hope to see you on Sunday. You are one of my greatest friends.”

Read More: Julian Edelman, Matt Light, Media Day, Osi Umenyiora

Bill O’Brien: This week is about the Patriots in the Super Bowl, not Penn State

01.31.12 at 12:15 pm ET
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INDIANAPOLIS — On the eve of national college football signing day, Patriots offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien maintained that his focus is on the Patriots for one more game, not on his future job as Penn State head coach.

“This is a week about the Patriots and really not about Penn State,” O’Brien said on the field at Lucas Oil Stadium. “I’m trying to do the best I can to put together with the staff a great game plan for Sunday.

“I’ll be in Penn State on Monday or Tuesday after game and we’ll go from there. We’ve got a lot of great people in place up at Penn State that are doing a great job up there seeing that through.”

O’Brien was very relaxed and open, answering questions about the Patriots offense, his competitive respect for Tom Brady and his career move.

Speaking of Brady, he complimented Brady as one of the best quarterbacks ever to run the quarterback sneak, scoring twice against the Dolphins on Christmas Eve and the game-winning score against the Ravens in the AFC championship.

“He’s probably one of the best quarterback sneak guys in the history of the game,” O’Brien said. “He just does a really good job, he’s got a knack for it, understands when to do it and really does a good job with it.”

“I don’t coach that. that was all him. He made a great play and that’s why he’s a great teammate because he knew that was a big play for us in that game.”

Read More: Bill O'Brien, Joe Paterno, New England Patriots, New York Giants

Super Bowl Roundup: New York papers continue criticism of travel celebration

01.31.12 at 11:36 am ET
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The New York papers were blasting the Patriots and quarterback Tom Brady on Monday for celebrating before their trip to Indianapolis with a fan send-off ahead of the Super Bowl. On Tuesday, the travel celebration controversy continued as the New York tabloids praised the Giants for their quiet trip to Indianapolis on Monday.

The New York Post applauded the Giants in their paper Tuesday, running with the headline, “Plane Focused.” According to the Post, about 125 Giants fans cheered on the team at Timex Performance Center as they boarded buses to Newark Airport. That number is in stark contrast to the organized 25,000 who showed up for the pre-flight pep rally at Gillette Stadium Sunday morning.

Justin Tuck, the defensive end who constantly pressured Brady in Super Bowl XLII, scoffed at the way New England organized its travel plans.

‘€œI wish we could have flown in at night with nobody knowing we were here, instead of having everybody cheer you on, because all that ‘€” what for?’€™’€™ Tuck told the Post. ‘€œNobody wants to talk about before the Super Bowl, everybody wants to talk about after it. If you leave this place as the winner of the 46th Super Bowl, then you can have as many parties, you can have as many pep rallies, you can do whatever you want to do after that.

‘€œUntil that happens then I could care less for all the hoopla.’€™’€™

The New York Daily News carried a similar story, saying that the Giants flew “under the radar” to Indianpolis with “no plans for a victory party next week.”

The Daily News then quoted the outspoken safety Antrel Rolle. Contrary to the Daily News’ assertion that the Giants are not engaging in the confident talk that the Patriots are guilty of, Rolle said he “expected” the Giants to win.

“We’€™re not here for anything but to take care of the Patriots on Sunday night. I mean, we wouldn’€™t have boarded the plane if we didn’€™t expect to win. I think that is the bottom line. We have come here for one thing and one thing only, which is to win. We are expecting to win this game come Sunday.’€

The New York Times, as opposed to the city’s tabloids, took a more business-like view of Super Bowl travel. They ran a story on the cost of going to the Super Bowl in last-minute fashion.

According to the Times, a room at budget hotel Best Inn costs $898.99 per night this week (normally, rooms there are $55 per night). The Days Hotel near the Indianapolis airport is charging $1,840 for two nights despite normally costing $47 per night. Game tickets range from $2100 in the nosebleeds to $516,484 for a suite. Flights from Boston or New York to Indianapolis, which are normally about $400, have jumped to $1,379 to $1,837 this weekend.

But of all the hoopla surrounding Super Bowl travel, none is more welcome than that of Mark Herzlich, current Giants linebacker and a former Boston College standout who was diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer, in 2009. Almost three years later, Herzlich is cancer-free and participating in his first Super Bowl.

Herzlich acknowledged the accomplishment via Twitter. Not long after landing in Indianapolis on Monday, Herzlich tweeted: 2 yrs ago I was told I might never walk again. Just WALKED off plane in Indy to play in The #SuperBowl. #TakeThatSh*tCancer

Read More: antrel rolle, Justin Tuck, Mark Herzlich, Tom Brady

Heath Evans on D&C: ‘I’m going to second-guess Bill Belichick’ on some decisions before Super Bowl XLII

01.31.12 at 10:33 am ET
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Former Patriot Heath Evans made an appearance on the Dennis & Callahan show Tuesday morning to provide a player perspective on the Super Bowl matchup between the Patriots and Giants. Evans was a member of the 2007 team that saw its bid for a perfect season end in the waning moments of Super Bowl XLII thanks to an incredible drive by the Giants that engineered New York to a 17-14 win.

Evans eventually won a Super Bowl with the Saints before retiring after the 2010 season. Now, looking back on the 2008 heart-breaker against the Giants, Evans said he does second-guess some of Bill Belichick‘s decisions prior to the game itself.

“I’m going to do something stupid and I’m going to second-guess Bill Belichick,” Evans said. “We all completely agreed with the full pads Thursday Friday Saturday in Foxboro, the bye week. When we get to Phoenix, Wednesday was kind of a lackluster practice and I think Bill kind of thought maybe we were overlooking the [Giants] team. I don’t think we were. It was just, you have a bad day. Bill opted to put us in pads again on Thursday, which is that the reason we lost the game? Probably not. But if there was a way to freshen us up ‘€¦”

Evans also weighed in on the upcoming Super Bowl, noting that he does not expect Rob Gronkowski‘s high ankle sprain to hurt the team as much as people may expect. Gronkowski, Evans noted, seems tough enough to play through the injury. If he is unable to go, Evans said the Patriots coaching staff will be able to use a slightly different style of offense so that instead of having someone else fill in for Gronkowski, they will be able to play someone else in a situation that best helps that player to succeed.

Evans claimed that the most important factor in the game will not be Gronkowski or the secondary, but rather the protection of the quarterback.

“My thought is this, it is protecting Brady, but it’s not just by pass protection,” Evans said. “It’s by running the football. You flash back to 2007, the game plan was to run the football. We had some key mistakes early on in the game. Josh McDaniels, Bill Belichick elected to get away from the run game, put the weight of the world on Tom Brady‘s shoulders. Ultimately, he did his job.

“Yes, 14 points, people said, ‘No, you should have scored more,’ but he drove us down the field. We scored. Just left a little too much time for young Eli Manning at the time.”

Following are more highlights from the conversation. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Bill Belichick, Drew Brees, Eli Manning, Heath Evans

Super Summary: Tuesday morning roundup of Patriots/Giants coverage on

01.31.12 at 9:06 am ET
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It is the Super Bowl and it comes with pomp and circumstance unlike anything else in American sports, and so the issues on the periphery can feel bigger, at times, than the game itself. And with the Patriots and Giants now five days away from the game, it is no surprise that the volume is amplifying on such pressing issues as:

The absence of Chad Ochocinco from a podium on Media Day.

— The fact that Bill Belichick will not wear the infamous red hoodie that he sported in Super Bowl XLII.

— On Sunday, Tom Brady addressed Patriots fans at Gillette Stadium, saying, “Hopefully, we’ll have a lot more people at our party next weekend.” That is being treated by New York tabloids as the second coming of Joe Namath‘s Super Bowl guarantee of victory. More on that here.

— Gronk is now a cultural phenomenon, as evidenced by the fact that he’s now a subject of a hip-hop track on which Timbaland served as the executive producer. Gronk’s response (via twitter): “Wowsers this is crazyyy!’€

With media day on the horizon, such matters are the mere tip of the proverbial iceberg. Here is a roundup of coverage on that may (or may not) have greater bearing on the outcome of Super Bowl XLVI:

— The Patriots practiced in full pads. Rob Gronkowski didn’t. Chris Price examines that development as well as a number of other matters — including the possibility that there could be a position up for grabs at right tackle — in wading through the muck and identifying what we learned (that matters) on Monday.

— The legacy of Super Bowl XLII is unavoidable given that the Patriots and Giants are once again facing each other four years after their epic championship tilt. Kirk Minihane writes that if the Patriots win on Sunday, it will represent the death of Spygate.

Patrick Chung, who was in college during Super Bowl XLII, had no interest in discussing David Tyree‘s catch against Rodney Harrison. Chung also had no interest in addressing Harrison’s comments that the Patriots secondary is awful.

Vince Wilfork explained on The Big Show that he thought the Patriots had the potential to forge a championship-caliber team and defense as early as training camp.

Deion Branch discussed his gratitude at being back with New England and in the Super Bowl on Mut & Merloni.

Boomer Esiason, on the Dennis & Callahan show, said that it was “shocking” to see that the Patriots are favored for the Super Bowl.

— Former Patriots special teamer Ray Ventrone is thrilled to see his brother, Ross Ventrone, in a familiar position.

Bill Belichick said that it was former Giants coach Ray Perkins who taught him how to conduct tough practices.

— The round of press conferences included BenJarvus Green-Ellis, who addressed a number of topics including his return to Indiana as well as a career in which he’s never fumbled; Devin McCourty, who discussed the evolution of the Patriots secondary; and Patrick Chung, who discussed the challenge of shutting down the Giants.

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