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SUPER BOWL REPORT

Brady could join select club

January 29, 2008|Sam Farmer and David Wharton | Times Staff Writers

New England's Tom Brady, who is already breathing rarefied air among NFL quarterbacks, has the chance to join an even more elite club. He needs one more Super Bowl victory to join Pittsburgh's Terry Bradshaw and San Francisco's Joe Montana -- Brady's childhood sports idol -- as the only starting quarterbacks to win four Lombardi Trophies.

"Joe Montana is the greatest of all time, and he always will be," said Brady, who was raised in the Bay Area. "Joe and Steve [Young] were my two favorites because they were the 49ers' quarterbacks. Those guys were the best.

"I remember a few years ago Joe said something like, 'Well, if Tom ever goes for the fourth, me and Terry are going to go kidnap him.' "

Bradshaw, a Fox television analyst, will meet the Patriots quarterback for an interview later this week. Brady joked that he'd bring center Dan Koppen along just in case.

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For the most part, Brady was in good spirits when he met with reporters shortly after the Patriots landed in Phoenix. But there were two moments when the timbre of his voice changed and there was a more serious look in his eyes. Both had to do with the over-the-top interest in his personal life.

The first came when talking about being pursued by photographers in New York last week while he was visiting supermodel girlfriend Gisele Bundchen.

"I was glad to be back in Boston when I got back there, glad to be back in the insulated halls of our locker room, and glad to have my offensive line around to protect me this week," he said.

Then he issued a semi-stern warning: "Don't any of you be chasing me around. I won't be nearly as nice as I was last week."

Brady sounded even more annoyed when asked whether Bundchen would attend the game.

"I have no idea," he said. "Next question."

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During the Super Bowl trophy ceremony, the NFL will honor former Washington quarterback Doug Williams, most valuable player of Super Bowl XXII, 20 years after he led the Redskins to a 42-10 victory over Denver in San Diego.

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Despite a statistical dip toward the end of the regular season, New England's defense has been especially tough in recent weeks. The Patriots haven't given up a touchdown in the last six quarters, the last on a David Garrard-to-Ernest Wilford throw in the second quarter of a divisional victory over Jacksonville.

"I think we do a great job in game planning our opponents," defensive lineman Richard Seymour said. "That's been really key. We've been just going out and executing and tackling on defense. Any time you can tackle on defense, and you know what the other team is doing, it puts you in position to make plays.

"We've had some guys step up. And our linebackers -- everyone always talks about how old they are -- but they continue to make plays for us."

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Shortly after the New York Giants arrived in Phoenix on Monday to prepare for the Super Bowl, Coach Tom Coughlin and six of his players walked into a news conference wearing black suits.

The question was unavoidable: Had they come dressed for their funeral?

"We're ready to go to work," receiver Plaxico Burress said. "That's it."

As heavy underdogs to the Patriots, the Giants also brought some unwanted companions to their resort hotel half an hour outside the city.

Headaches. Fatigue. High temperatures.

Flu symptoms struck the team shortly after their NFC title victory over the Green Bay Packers last week, a night game in which the wind-chill factor approached minus-30 degrees.

Three players sat out practice last week and others were sick on the trip from New York. But so far, the number of afflicted Giants has been limited.

"After the weather in Green Bay, you're lucky it's only a handful," defensive end Michael Strahan said.

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While the Patriots headed west Sunday evening, Coughlin decided to keep his team in New York another 24 hours.

"We just thought that we would be best served by doing as much as we could at home," he said.

The Giants have some experience with travel, winning a single-season-record 10 consecutive road games, including a victory over the Miami Dolphins in London at mid-season. Players said the experience of that trip could help them acclimate to the distractions of Super Bowl week.

As for the crush of reporters at the news conference, Coughlin said, "This is like a normal day in New York, media-wise."

With much of the game plan in place, the Giants will spend today with organizational matters and begin their standard practice week Wednesday.

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sam.farmer@latimes.com

david.wharton@latimes.com

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