TAMPA, Fla. — The New York media have gotten a lot of mileage out of Jim Fassel's November playoff guarantee, portraying the stoic Giant coach as some latter-day Joe Namath, which, of course, he isn't, in any possible way, shape or form.
Namath's New York Jets were 17 1/2-point underdogs, facing a Baltimore team advertised as one of the greatest collections of talent in NFL history, when he guaranteed the Jets would win Super Bowl III.
Fassel was 7-4 with five rather unimposing games left on the schedule when he guaranteed his Giants would make the playoffs. Fassel's was no wild stab in the dark. He'd done the research, he knew the Giants had a very good chance to go 5-0 in that stretch if they simply didn't self-destruct against the worst team in the NFC, Arizona; the two biggest disappointments in the league, Washington and Jacksonville, and two former contenders fallen on hard times, Dallas and Pittsburgh.
Make the playoffs against that group?
Relatively speaking, it was an easy call.
Monday, a reporter wanted to see Fassel step up, asking the coach if he had another guarantee for Sunday's Super Bowl against Baltimore.
"I don't think so," Fassel said. "As a coach, you have to know when you're coming around the final turn and how to push your team to the next level. Sometimes you can overdo something. You can now try to be cute and funny.
"I said it because I believed it 100%. I was angry and upset, and I had to get the focus going in a [different] direction. I achieved that. Now, I don't have to be cute and funny and quotable."
Super Bowls, they don't make 'em the way they used to.
Fassel said he received a phone call from former Giant coach Dan Reeves congratulating him on reaching the Super Bowl.
"I asked if he had any suggestions," Fassel said. "He said, 'You don't want any of my suggestions. I'm o-fer.' "
Reeves is winless in four Super Bowl appearances as a coach, going 0-3 with the Denver Broncos and 0-1 with the Atlanta Falcons.
Is it possible to play in the Super Bowl without previously having seen one?
Yes, if you believe Raven defensive end Michael McCrary, who claims he never has watched a Super Bowl in his 30 years.
"Yes, that is accurate," he said. "I never had a liking for watching sports. It's not my thing. It's always too slow for me to watch. I love playing the sport, but in terms of watching it, it is boring to me."