INDIANAPOLIS — As it stands now, the Patriots remain three-point favorites to win Super Bowl XVLI. While the Patriots may be given the edge by handicappers, there's not doubt that the Giants aren't going to sneak up on anyone the way they did the Patriots four years ago in Super Bowl XLII.
Back then, Coughlin was able to play up the "giant underdogs" and "no respect" angles to motivate his team. As the Patriots were marching to an undefeated season, with the Giants remaining as the final obstacle before achieving a perfect 2007 season, few gave New York a chance.
In Thursday's press conference, Coughlin was asked to describe how things are different this time around, when a large contingent of NFL fans and media are picking New York to prevail.
"It's still us against the world, and that's how we play it, period," said Coughlin. "We're in here and I've seen a lot of the stuff that's been said. But as I recognize what's been said in terms of where we are, we're still the underdogs. And we still have an awful lot to prove. As I said, talk is cheap, play the game. That's exactly what it is."
Coughlin acknowledged that there is a lot of talking being done this week, which is the nature of the beast as teams fulfill the many media obligations that accompany Super Bowl week. And despite some comments about trying rattle QB Tom Brady or DL Chris Canty telling Giants fans to get ready for a post-Super Bowl celebration parade, Coughlin hasn't been disappointed by anything his players have said.
"I haven't seen anything, and if there is anything that I would be upset about, then (senior vice president of communications) Mr. (Pat) Hanlon would've informed me, I'm sure. I've seen some of the statements in the past that I've kind of tried to corral the player and make him understand basically what significance that may have played or not played. But I think the players have a pretty good idea of what we expect of them. We try to frown on anything that becomes bulletin-board material. I think that, for the most part, they've done an outstanding job."
One player who did find himself in hot water this week was DE Osi Umenyiora, who was fined after missing the mandatory Wednesday press conference, which Coughlin briefly addressed.
"We weren't pleased with that, but Osi will participate and be there today," said Coughlin.
The press conference got off to an interesting start, with the first questioner asking for Coughlin's coin-flip philosophy.
"I'm out of that one," said Coughlin, which is perhaps of departure from the norm for the Giants' head coach, who is known as somewhat of a control freak. "We have our captains. They decide who's going to make that call. We do keep track of who wins and loses, thank you very much. That's basically up to the captains. We'll make a decision going forward. I wouldn't say exactly what we'll do, but you can check the record as to how we usually go."
A reporter from Jacksonville — apparently an old nemesis of Coughlin's during the coach's days with the Jaguars — tried to get Coughlin to comment on remarks made by former Jaguars owner Wayne Weaver lamenting that he wished he would have retained Coughlin instead of firing him in 2002.
"I don't do hypotheticals, thanks," quipped Coughlin. "I appreciate what was said, and it was mentioned to me on a couple of occasions. I have great respect for Mr. Weaver. My time in Jacksonville was very, very important to my family and I, and we cherished our time."