A psychologist in San Jose swears he knows why Super Bowl champions tend to get bowled over the following season. His name is Dr. Thomas Tutko, and he says football players can be separated into four basic groups by unique criteria.
--Ring envy. Apparently, diamonds are a boy's best friend. Tutko says many football players play solely for that championship ring and, when they finally have it, the only thing left in life is finding a full-length fur coat. Winning? It's not as important as a good manicure.
(Giants' case in point: More than half of them are already wearing fur coats).
--Hero worship. Most championship teams have the last pick in the first round of the draft, and they usually find a useful player. However, rarely does this new player have an impact on the Super Bowl team, Tutko says. Instead, the player figures the team is so good, he just needs to be a role player, and he underachieves.
(Giants' case in point: First-round pick Mark Ingram, a wide receiver, has been relatively disappointing.)
--General envy. Tutko says most people's goal in life is to write a book or, at least, be famous. This, he says, includes special-teams guys. So when role players win the Super Bowl and still don't get publicity, they figure, "Why should I keep working so hard?" And they stop working hard.
(Giants' case in point: Returner Phil McConkey got to write a book, but the other special-teams members didn't. So punter Sean Landeta and kicker Raul Allegre and the rest of the suicide squad are slumping badly).
-- Jealousy. For instance, the rest of the NFL gets jealous of the championship rings, and all they care about is whupping up on the defending Super Bowl champs.
(Giants' case in point: New Orleans Saints 23, Giants 14).
Of course, far be it from the New York media to analyze the Giants, too. They're more interested in old-fashioned controversy, and the latest episode involves running back Joe Morris and his heart.
The New York Post reported Monday there were "whispers" that Coach Bill Parcells felt Morris -- who has a sore shoulder -- should have played Sunday in New Orleans. According to the Post, Parcells was questioning Morris' "heart."
Morris heard of this and ran straight for Parcells' office.
"Nobody can question my heart, nobody," Morris said as he was about to enter Parcell's door.
When he left, they had let bygones be bygones, and Morris told the New York Daily News: "We (he and Parcells) may not see eye-to-eye on everything, but we're fine. He's honest and has never lied to me."
Parcells said: "I think both Joe and I were on the same page. That's all that makes a difference to me."
The Giants' machine began coming undone a couple of days after the Super Bowl when Parcells asked for permission to speak with the Atlanta Falcons. Maybe he was sick of his Gatorade showers, but he eventually decided to stay. Later, tackle Karl Nelson was found to have Hodgkins Disease, scary in that he was not the first Giants player to develop some form of cancer.
There was some concern that the environment around Giants Stadium helped cause the disease, but George Young, the general manager, said: "Oh, that wasn't true. We've done every study possible. The players' association tried making an issue out of it, but when we brought in scientists for a meeting no one from the association showed up."
Young claims the Giants' offensive line was taken aback by Nelson's illness. "Offensive linemen tend to be sensitive people," he said. And this might be a reason why Morris has only 280 yards on 88 carries this year. Last season, he had more than that in his first three games. But where there are no holes, there are no yards. The line just isn't doing it, Parcells says.
Also, the Giants have replaced fullback Maurice Carthon with George Adams, and Adams doesn't block well.
They lost their season opener in Chicago to the Bears, and Allegre missed a field goal that would have won a game the next week against the Cowboys.
"We did stupid things the first part of the year," linebacker Lawrence Taylor said. "Then, the strike really set us back. But if you think about it now, the fat lady might've been back there tuning up before the strike."
Besides, Young didn't field much of a replacement team.
"Yeah, a lot of people think I'm a dodo," he said during the strike. "I think I'm a dodo, too."
Lately, though, he said the Giants were at a distinct disadvantage trying to recruit players. He said most of the good replacement players live in Texas or California or Florida, and they wanted to play with teams in their areas. Also, they wanted to play with teams they could stick with after the strike.
Alas, the Giants finished 0-3 during the strike season, and still haven't recovered. In a second Dallas game after the strike, two tipped passes resulted in interceptions, and quarterback Phil Simms injured his knee.
"Instead of us catching the thing, the ball goes up in the air," Young said. "We're just not quite in sync."
But Parcells said: "(The defense) has done some pretty dumb things, too."
For instance, Taylor was pretty dumb for trying to play on a sore hamstring against New Orleans. He lasted three series, but Parcells said he could be ready to play Sunday at Washington's RFK Stadium against the Redskins. By the way, Simms and Morris also are probable starters.
Taylor said his teammates better not give up, or else. He said the guys who do probably won't be around next year, and Parcells agreed with that assessment.
Middle linebacker Harry Carson said: "Personally, I'm not even thinking playoffs. At 3-7, that would be somewhat of a joke. With five games left to play, we'll just try to have fun."