Jan 19, 2012, 3:57 PM EDT
My grandpappy always told me: “When you see two fellas who are about to fight, notice which one is talking the most. He’s the one who is most afraid.” Grandpappy may have been on to something, and then again, maybe not: he met his end tragically during a Free Tibet rally, beaten to death with a placard by a disgruntled monk. But it does bring to mind Sunday’s NFC Championship Game between the New York Giants and San Francisco 49ers.
The Giants seem to be working overtime looking for ways to motivate themselves. One would think that Sunday’s prize — a trip to exotic and glamorous Indianapolis, Indiana — would be incentive enough, but apparently not.
NY fullback Henry Hynoski told the New York Post: “We’re ready for it. It’s gonna be a dogfight.” But Giants defensive tackle Chris Canty disagreed, saying of the game: “It’s not going to be for the meek and mild. This is going to be a bloodbath.” Which version is correct? The two are reportedly headed to arbitration to decide.
The Giants’ Antrel Rolle, meanwhile, was fired up over a quote from 49ers tight end Vernon Davis, who said that he had been praying for New York to beat the Packers this past Sunday. “If he said that, I can only hope he’s saying it just because they want to get a home game,” Rolle said on his weekly appearance on WFAN radio. “They better be careful what they ask for, because their wish is being granted, and we’ll see them come Sunday.”
In fact, if Rolle had taken the time to actually read Davis’ quote, he would have seen this: “And I prayed, I prayed the Giants won,” Davis told reporters on Monday. “I prayed. But they’re a good team. I didn’t pray because they were the worse team. I prayed because they’re a good team, and I acknowledge that. The hardest game ever when they come up here. They have a good team offensively and defensively. This week we’ll prepare like we did last week, and we’ll approach this, I guess, (as if it’s) the end of the world.”
And then there’s this, from Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz on ESPN: “It definitely works out in our favor a little bit that we’re able to get San Fran as opposed to New Orleans, just because of how we feel about them and we understand we have a good chance of winning that game.”
Brandon Jacobs was also doing some barking today, saying that he hopes someone on the 49ers hits him in the head. Honest, that’s what he said. He closed with: “I’m not afraid of them, I’m not afraid of anybody on their team, I’m not afraid of anybody in their organization.”
In March Jacobs becomes the first NFL player to be inducted into the Whistling Through The Graveyard Hall of Fame.
Even though the 49ers reportedly have been advised by their coaching staff not to engage in any of the cross-country banter, Davis did tweet this on Wednesday:
“Are the Giants doing drunk interviews? Lol.”
It would seem so, until you realize that’s how they’ve always approach big games. The trash talking with the Jets in December was fast and furious, as it was with the Cowboys. This is a team that runs on adjectives and spittle, that thrives on working itself into a Henry V, For-he-today-that-sheds-his-blood-with-me
-shall-be-my-brother, leather-jerkin lather.
If the Medieval Brits had bulletin boards, Henry V’s was probably jammed with quotes from the French Dauphin, with stuff about the infamous palace tennis balls taunt, and how French horses were superior to those from England. When it comes to war, I get that: You need to inspire the troops so that they’ll charge forward, instead of breaking and running back to their warm straw beds. But this is sports: No one’s really going to get an arrow in the butt, and pretty much everyone is going home afterward, win or lose. All trash talking does is make you lose focus, so when you’re trying to figure out what hole to fill on third-and-2, instead you’re immersed in the fog of war. Rational thought is required, but all you can think about is how you don’t like the way Frank Gore is smirking at you.
So why is Tom Coughlin allowing all this chatter? I guess he doesn’t want his players breaking into an all-out retreat in the middle of Candlestick Park. That’s a real possibility here. Steve Young, on KNBR-680 radio this morning, said that the 49ers at this point were “unbeatable.” (Keep in mind, however, that’s he’s had two concussions).
So here’s the current 49ers quarterback, Alex Smith, on the game:
“I think if we win this game and go to the Super Bowl it will say it in itself. I’m not thinking about that right now. I really feel like winning games as a quarterback this time of year speaks for itself.
“That’s how you do your talking. So, just focused on this game, preparing myself all week.”
Just two very different approaches on how to comport oneself in pregame interviews. Or to put it another way, the Giants are Commodus, and the 49ers are Maximus. “Soon the time for honoring yourself will be over, highness.”
I know what you’re saying: “Didn’t Maximus end up dead?” Yes, but he wasn’t playing at home.
Rick’s Cafe Americain appears on Thursday. Contact: Rickchand@gmail.com.
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