Last post-season, late owner Wellington Mara’s wife Ann Mara passed a humorous comment during her stay near Green Bay, Wisconsin for the New York Giants versus Green Bay Packers in the NFC Divisional round of the 2011 playoffs.
"Let me tell you about Green Bay," she said. "This is before we even got to the stadium on Lombardi Ave., before it was Lombardi this and Lombardi that. This was at the hotel the night before [in Appleton, Wis.]. They even had a Lombardi Steakhouse, with a letter from my husband framed on the wall. All this Lombardi around you, no matter where you turned, and all I could think was, Vinny used to sleep on our couch!’… 1040 Park Ave. We didn't know at the time we had an immortal sleeping on the hideaway."
Parity keeps the NFL fresh in a CBA-like sense of the word. However, contracts and players, coaches, scouts, and general managers moving on creates the opposite. Teams begin to adopt a bit of a shell from another because of this and also take with them valuable knowledge of their former team.
Since the Giants are one of the oldest franchises standing, there are more leaves on those legendary Big Blue branches. Ask the average Dallas Cowboys fan about Tom Landry – guaranteed that they don’t even mention his defensive coordinator position with the Giants alongside Lombardi.
This won’t change Sunday with current Saints defensive coordinator, Steve Spagnuolo coming back to New York. Spags is himself, a former Giant and still breathes respect for them.
"They're a good football team. It's a great challenge, they are the defending Super Bowl champs and until somebody else becomes the Super Bowl champion, it's them. I have a lot of respect and admiration for Coach (Tom) Coughlin and what he's done there, what all of the coaches have done there. It's kind of like when I was in New York and we used to play Philadelphia and going back and playing somebody you really know and care for. It's like playing your brother. Sometimes you compete harder when you go out on the basketball court and battle and compete against your brother. This is a game we need. We know what's at stake…no matter what; it's going to be two good football teams going head-to-head on Sunday."
That respect is a two-way street and the Giants are not accepting stats as part of why they should walk out with an easy win against the Saints’ defense that’s improving.
"It's a tough system," MLB Chase Blackburn, stated. "It's a really good system, but it takes time to get it right."
Of course, Coughlin knows and reiterates.
"I would imagine it's the same thing that took place there (the improvement)," Tom Coughlin said, referring to how Spags’ defense started out with blue to the 2012 Saints’. “The only thing I'll say about their defensive team is in their loss the other day to Atlanta, they held Atlanta to 283 yards. I understand all the discussions about their defense, their stats and all that stuff, but I'll tell you, they play hard. They have good, talented people. They have definitely improved and they are a physical outfit."
Slight edge may go to Tom Coughlin and his New York Giants on the road of familiarity, but the unknown is also a factor that will come into play Sunday evening. The NFC team that comes out ready for that (while playing closest to flawless football) should be the victor.
Also…Ann Mara, Bill Belichick, Football, Jason Garrett, John Fox, New York, New York Giants, NFL, Sean Payton, Steve Spagnuolo, Tom Coughlin, Wellington Mara