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Thursday, February 2, 2012
Giant ring-bearers been here, won that

By Ohm Youngmisuk
ESPNNewYork.com

INDIANAPOLIS -- Justin Tuck did not bring his Super Bowl XLII ring to Indianapolis.

In fact, he rarely ever wears his Super Bowl bling.

"It's funny," Tuck says. "A lot of us don't wear our rings. I don't wear mine. I have nine other fingers that I'm trying to fill up."

"We're hungry for another one," Tuck continued. "That '07 ring can stay in its secret place for now."

Justin Tuck
Justin Tuck says one Super Bowl ring isn't enough.

All week long, the Giants have handled their Super Bowl week duties as if they've been here before. That's partly because 15 Giants have done it before.

Tuck is one of the Fab 15 who played in Super Bowl XLII, and their championship experience could play a major role in helping the Giants win a fourth Super Bowl trophy on Sunday.

"That is the core of this team, those guys who have been around the last four years," Tuck said. "We just know how this feels, how this is supposed to turn out. We've played in a lot of meaningful football games and it's like we never worry about it. That has a lot to do with the experience in that core group of guys."

When the Giants run onto the field for Super Bowl XLVI, several key players won't be in awe or fall into a trance as soon as all those hundreds of flashbulbs form one giant explosion of light at kickoff.

Quarterback Eli Manning, running back Brandon Jacobs, right guard Chris Snee, left tackle David Diehl, right tackle Kareem McKenzie, defensive end Osi Umenyiora, cornerbacks Corey Webster and Aaron Ross, kicker Lawrence Tynes and long snapper Zak DeOssie started in the 17-14 upset for the ages over the previously undefeated Patriots on Feb. 3, 2008.

Tuck, running back Ahmad Bradshaw, left guard Kevin Boothe, linebacker Chase Blackburn and defensive end Dave Tollefson were reserves in that game. Running back D.J. Ware and linebacker Mathias Kiwanuka were also on the team but did not play in Super Bowl XLII. Ware was inactive and Kiwanuka was on injured reserve.

Four more Giants -- safety Antrel Rolle, safety Deon Grant, defensive tackle Rocky Bernard and tackle Tony Ugoh -- have played in the NFL's title game but lost. So the Giants have a total of 19 players who have Super Bowl experience.

By comparison, the Patriots have 11 players with that kind of experience and six with multiple Super Bowl appearances, including center Dan Koppen, who is on injured reserve.

Giants Super Bowl ring
Former Giants star Michael Strahan calls the Super Bowl XLII ring a "10-table stunner."

"It's important," coach Tom Coughlin said of the veterans who have been here before. "What we have is a nucleus of guys who can relate to the younger players, who can talk to them now and have been talking to them for the last week. Mostly it is about attitude."

Even though Tuck and many of the veterans with rings don't often show off their jewelry, just about all the Giants players have seen the ring described by Michael Strahan as a "10-table stunner" for its ability to be seen 10 tables away.

Rookies can even describe the Tiffany diamond-encrusted creation with three Lombardi Trophies and an N.Y. logo on it.

Before every game this season, Byron Hansen, the team's coordinator of rehabilitation, shows his Super Bowl ring to players like rookie linebacker Jacquian Williams.

It's a not-so-subtle, 1.5-carat reminder of what every NFL player plays for.

"It's crazy how much blood, sweat, tears go through that ring," Williams said. "I tell myself all the time, 'I want one. I need one. I got to have one.'"

Victor Cruz, who watched Super Bowl XLII at an apartment with friends at UMass in 2008, now has a chance to win his own ring.

"I'm jealous," Cruz said of when he sees the ring. "I want one to have on my own finger."

There's no way to predict how a young and inexperienced player like Cruz will handle the moment of Super Bowl XLVI.

"Four years ago, it was tough [to sleep]," Snee said of the night before Super Bowl XLII. "This time, it won't be. I remember not feeling very well the night before. It was exciting. This is the Super Bowl."

That is why veterans like Snee have been talking to the younger players who have never been there.

Last week, Manning delivered a rare talk to the team, telling his teammates to take a business approach to the two weeks before the Super Bowl, and to seize an opportunity that does not come often.

Whether it is handling ticket requests to media requests, Manning told the team how to approach everything and why taking care of as much as possible the week before leaving for the Super Bowl and trying to keep a normal routine is critical.

Manning's speech helped set the tone for the Giants before they began practicing near the end of last week.

And you don't need to be a Super Bowl winner to deliver priceless Super Bowl advice. Players like Grant, Rolle and Bernard can still feel the agonizing pain of losing a Super Bowl.

Grant, a 12-year veteran who was with Carolina when the Panthers lost Super Bowl XXXVIII to the Patriots, has had a soothing influence on players all week, telling teammates to enjoy the moment since you never know when it may come again.

But Giants like Manning, Snee and Tuck know what it takes to win a "10-table stunner." And that group is hoping to earn another one on Sunday and help the rest of the Giants get their first ring.

"I am a little more experienced," Bradshaw said of his second trip to the Super Bowl. "As a rookie, I was out there with my head cut off, just playing my hardest. Now I know a little bit and I have been in this situation."

Like Tuck, Bradshaw says he's ready to add to his Tiffany collection.

"My other hand is jealous," he added. "It would be the best thing in the world for me and a lot of guys on the team."