Osi Umenyiora said he’s never been more disrespected – or more fired up – as a football player. Heading into Super Bowl XLII against the Patriots in 2008, it was almost as if the Giants weren’t even there.
“It was the whole week leading up to it,” Umenyiora recalled Friday. “Everybody was talking about Tom (Brady) and their offense and how great they were ... We were very, very angry. Just the whole thing, it was like nobody gave us a shot. It was like all the things we had done, all the battles we had fought to get up to that point, it was like ‘whatever,’ these guys are just going to go out there and get smashed down. We were very angry going into that football game.”
Four years later, the Giants are still angry. Sort of. Trying to be. They’re still the underdogs. Kind of. The line on the game has been shrinking, the outcome not quite as certain, and most people believe that the Giants – who beat the Patriots in the regular season, remember – have a good chance to win another Super Bowl next Sunday.
It’s left the team to try to manufacture some of the rage it had in Super Bowl XLII.
“We’re not a big underdog, but we’re still an underdog nonetheless,” Umenyiora said. “They’re a great football team. Most people picking this game will say that they’re going to win the football game.”
“A lot of people haven’t given us a shot, and we kind of like it that way,” Justin Tuck said early in the week. “For all the oddsmakers out there, keep rooting against us.”
One of the ways that the Giants may try to recapture that fury is to convince themselves that many outsiders believe their Super Bowl XLII win was a fluke. There are probably more people who think that than those who give the Giants no chance to win this time around.
That groundwork is already being done on that thinking.
“They feel like the first Super Bowl we beat them in was a lucky one, that’s the talk,” said safety Deon Grant, who wasn’t even on the 2007 team. “They’re still not giving the Giants their credit. We feel like we have something to go out there and prove.”
“If that’s what they’re thinking, with it being a fluke, it still gives us the ring,” Brandon Jacobs said. “So fluke or not, we won the ring.”
Umenyiora dismissed the idea of the fluke.
“We prepared,” he said. “We felt going into the game that we were going to win and that’s what happened. It might have been a fluke from the outside looking in, but for us, we felt like we could win the game and we did that.”
There may be more people who think they can this time around. The Giants will focus only on trying to convince the others.