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Super Bowl XLII media day

Off the wall or on, Giants' Strahan is game

January 30, 2008|Sam Farmer and David Wharton | Times Staff Writers

The zaniness of Tuesday's Super Bowl media day didn't faze Giants defensive end Michael Strahan, who answered all sorts of off-the-wall questions without so much as flinching.

Then again, he plays football in New York.

"This is like walking down Broadway," he said. "This is no big deal. Where is the naked cowboy? Is he out here strumming his guitar in some tighty-whitie shorts? This is what it is."

Behind an end zone at University of Phoenix stadium hung two vertical banners, one featuring Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and the other a screaming Strahan. Motioning to the gigantic action shot of himself, Strahan said: "That says that they love a good, handsome young man. Because that's a . . . good-looking man. Look at that poster."

Speaking of looks, Strahan might be a gap filler on the field, but he would never dream of filling the gap between his front teeth.

A reporter asked him who has a better gap -- Strahan, David Letterman or Alfred E. Neuman?

"Sponge Bob, actually," Strahan said. "He beats us all. Lauren Hutton, don't forget her, and Madonna, too. Trust me, all the gap people, we stick together."

Brady, who last week had to dodge celebrity photographers in New York while visiting supermodel girlfriend Gisele Bundchen, was asked if it's harder to deal with Strahan or the paparazzi.

That's a no-brainer, he said.

"Michael Strahan is much bigger and much meaner and much faster, and I sure as heck can't outrun Michael, and that's the problem," he said. "Everyone else I could probably outrun."

With reporters crowded three-deep around him, Giants receiver Plaxico Burress refused to back down.

Earlier this week, he casually predicted that his team would defeat the heavily favored Patriots, 23-17, in Sunday's championship game.

On Tuesday, Burress showed up in gold wraparound sunglasses and reiterated that if the game were played on paper, comparing the rosters, "we would win." Asked if he worried about providing bulletin board fodder for his opponents, he said: "Um . . . no."

"Why come in with a negative attitude?" he continued. "The goal is to win the game."

As for his guess at the final score, Burress said that was inspired by the No. 23 jersey he wore in high school.

Spelling was a hot topic at the podium where Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi sat, if only because his last name was misspelled on a sign above his head.

An alumnus of Arizona, Bruschi wondered: "What did I do wrong?"

But he did not get too upset, not with the league inviting several youngsters as guest reporters. Bruschi recalled that at a previous Super Bowl, a kid challenged players to a spelling bee.

"One of the words was 'Massachusetts,' " he said. "A player got it wrong."

Friends say Wes Welker is actually quite chatty. But the Patriots receiver has precious little to say to reporters, and that probably has something to do with Coach Bill Belichick getting in his face last spring when Welker made an innocuous, off-handed quip to a Boston newspaper after he signed with the team.

But players are pretty much required to talk on media day, especially if they're assigned a booth-style podium, as Welker was.

Still, his answers were short and to the point.

For example, a reporter asked him when was the first time someone told him he was too small.

"Pretty much since birth," Welker said.

And what about the differences between New England and Miami, where he spent three seasons with the Dolphins?

"Weather. Women. Wins," he said.

Well, we know at least one category New England won.

It took Jeff Feagles two decades of playing professional football before he finally reached the Super Bowl, so the Giants punter arrived in Phoenix determined to enjoy every minute -- including media day.

As one of the featured players, Feagles sat at a podium above the fray, patiently answering questions about his abundance of experience (he is 41) and lack of hair (he shaves his head).

"I could sit up here another hour," he said. "As much as I want to get to the game, this is pretty cool."

A considerably younger Matt Cassel, the Patriots backup quarterback from USC, seemed taken aback as he walked among throngs of reporters.

"I had no idea what this would be like," he said.

Patriots offensive lineman Logan Mankins has a bushy, lumberjack beard, and now we know why: As long as New England keeps winning, he refuses to shave.

No matter what happens in the Super Bowl, however, he's probably going to pull out the razor Monday morning.

"I think this is just a one-season beard," he said.

Chances are, Belichick isn't fretting about the Hollywood writers strike. In fact, he might not even know it's happening. Asked what his favorite shows were, he shrugged.

"I don't watch a lot of television," he said. " 'Planet Earth.' 'Gone With the Wind.' I liked 'The Bourne Identity.' "


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