An Interview With:
Q. What do you think about the chance of going up against Mark Tauscher? He shut down a very good end last week, got another one this week.
MICHAEL STRAHAN: It’s going to be a challenge. All we get is challenges. He’s a great player. He’s been there for some years. I’ve played against him a few times, so I think we’re somewhat familiar with each other. I look at it as a challenge. Every week is a challenge.
But we’ll see on Sunday. Nothing more I can say about it than that.
Q. Talk about your last two weeks. I think you had eight tackles against <st1:city w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Tampa</st1:place></st1:city>, ten last week. Both of those are postseason highs for you. Do you feel you’ve gotten better as the season has gone along?
MICHAEL STRAHAN: I feel like I’ve gotten better as the season has gone along. I always feel like I get stronger later in the season which definitely helps us, especially being in the position that we are right now. To be honest with you, now I feel better than I’ve felt all season, which 19, 20 weeks into it is a great thing to say.
I look at every week as a challenge, every play as, hey, this could be the last, you never know. That’s the way I’m trying to play and just trying to help my teammates, inspire my teammates. Heck, if I can get out there and do it then I know that they can because the guys are younger and faster and all those other things, and I’m sure hopefully I can inspire those guys to go ahead and win on Sunday.
Q. When you look back, do you think you’re fresher and stronger now because you skipped those first few weeks?
MICHAEL STRAHAN: You know what, physically I don’t know if I’m fresher and stronger because I skipped training camp, but I know mentally I am. Mentally I’m probably more in tune, and I guess in terms of that, that probably does help in a lot of ways physically.
When I did come in I was ready. I didn’t come in out of shape and was able to keep up. So now mentally I just feel very in tune with what we have going on. I’m not tired of sitting in meetings. That’s what training camp tends to do to you. Hopefully I’ll never see training camp again if I decide to play.
Q. The Packers are all talking about wanting to get Brett Favre to the Super Bowl. How do you feel that your teammates want to get you there?
MICHAEL STRAHAN: Not just me. We have Jeff Feagles 20 years in the league, five years longer than me. Amani Toomer is 12 years.
I understand. If I were a fan, heck, I’d want Brett Favre to win this game. I am a fan, but if I were not a player, I would want Brett Favre in this game.
But the problem is I’m playing in this game. So I don’t want Brett Favre to win this one. We have a lot of guys on our team we feel who we want to get there, myself included, and we’re going to fight for it.
We’re not going to let it ‑‑ it’s not going to be an easy game for either team. Whoever plays the best is going to win. The turnover battle, all those things are going to come into effect. Obviously watching their game last week and watching our game, you have two teams who play for four quarters who aren’t going to quit, who in a lot of ways, outside of their veteran players, too young to really understand where they are I feel. And I think whichever team can handle the pressure of the situation on Sunday will be in the Super Bowl.
Q. When you got here, guys like LT, they’re all still here, you played with a lot of those guys. You’re kind of the last link to that group. What do you remember about that group, and you see some similarities between this group and those guys?
MICHAEL STRAHAN: Well, when I think about my rookie year, and early on in my career we had Lawrence Taylor and Phil Simms and all those guys, you had a bunch of men, guys that you understood on Saturday you knew exactly what you were going to get. You didn’t go into the game on Sunday hoping that a guy was going to play well. You knew LT was going to be LT. You knew Phil Simms was going to be Phil Simms, and Meggett was going to be Meggett. The offensive line was going to play well, and you just knew those things.
That’s how I am with this unit right now. I understand what I’m going to get, and we understand what we’re going to get out of each other. Once you have that type of trust, that’s when you can have fun and let go and play.
I think the results of our ‑‑ at the end of our season and until now show that. We trust each other, we’re having fun, and those are the similarities between ’93, which is a long time ago, and right now.
Q. Did Tuck come in and buy anything for the defensive linemen today?
MICHAEL STRAHAN: No, actually I got kind of tired ‑‑ I told Osi leave him alone about the money jokes. I told Osi of all the people, we should know that the jokes get old real fast. We’re happy for him. He deserves every penny of it. He’s had a great season.
So I messed with him a little bit. But he already bought us something. I’ll be honest with you, I bought the entire defensive line watches, Tuck bought us something. Osi is the only one that hasn’t come out of the pocket. So of all the people, Osi needs to stop being so cheap and spread the love a little bit.
Q. What did Tuck buy you?
MICHAEL STRAHAN: He bought us actually ‑‑ it’s some Johnnie Walker, but it’s like that blue label. So you’re sitting at home and kind of crisp outside you pop it open and have a little sip.
Q. Can you talk about Tuck, how he’s taken the next step?
MICHAEL STRAHAN: Yeah, as a matter of fact coming off a series with a foot injury, which I had the same injury last year except for I didn’t require surgery, so to look at the surgery he went through ‑‑ and I said before the season had I had to go through what he did, I would have retired. So for him to bounce back from that, to be all over the field, to be at end, to be at tackle, he plays all over the place. To have ten sacks, to make myself better, to make Osi better, I mean, that’s really what he’s done. I take my hat off to him, and he deserves everything that’s coming to him right now.
Q. What’s the latest with you and retirement?
MICHAEL STRAHAN: I’m playing ‑‑ we’re getting ready to play one of the biggest games of my career, and you think I’m worried about quitting right now? I’m not worried about that. I’ll make the decision when I want to make the decision. Right now I don’t want to make it. That’s a moot question so don’t ask me that anymore.
Q. How much would it hurt for you to be at home right now?
MICHAEL STRAHAN: How much would it hurt for me to be at home if I didn’t come back? We’re only here because of me (laughter), so if I hadn’t come back we’d have been at home anyway. I’m joking, man. Honestly, if I was sitting at home right now, I would be extremely happy, but I would be extremely upset. I’d probably try to say, can I sign right now? Can I come back?
But I’ve had a great time this year. I’m having a lot of fun. That’s what we’re doing, we’re having fun. And that’s made it worth my while to come back, and it’s a pleasure and privilege to play with these guys and be in a totally different era of football and have success in it and to have some great teammates and some great friends to do it with. If I hadn’t come back I’d be upset probably.
Q. Although you’re not thinking about retirement, a little part of you must have thought about winning the Super Bowl and then going out?
MICHAEL STRAHAN: Oh, definitely. You think about, oh, yeah, we win the Super Bowl, you think about that, but it’s so early in the season, especially after all the mess in the off‑season, you’re like, man, that’s so far away, I can never think like that. And now to have the chance and to think of it and actually it can come true if we can focus and play well enough, that’s a blessing. I’m excited about it, man, and hopefully we can go out the way everybody dreams of going out if I do decide to retire and we’re fortunate enough to win it.
Q. As much as you probably don’t love the cold, the idea of playing in the cold at Lambeau, Brett Favre, championship game, that whole combination probably makes this an instant classic no matter what happens between those two teams?
MICHAEL STRAHAN: This is one of those games that you do watch on TV when you’re home, and you think, man, I wish I was out there. I know it’s cold but I wish I were out there. Now we have the opportunity to be out there. It’s cold for everybody. There’s no secret formula to going out there and warming up. I don’t care if you live in <st1:city w:st="on">Green Bay</st1:city>, I don’t care if you live in <st1:city w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Chicago</st1:place></st1:city>, I don’t care if you live here. When it’s cold, it is cold. All the guys with no sleeves on, I understand you’re tough, I understand all that. You’re not proving anything to me because I’m out there, too, and I know it’s cold with sleeves on even when you are playing.
So it’s just a mindset. If we have to play in the cold, I’d rather come out of it with a victory than to play in the cold and go in and go, man, I just froze my butt off for three hours and we lost the game. You just suck it up and do what you have to do.
Q. What will you say to your teammates before the game?
MICHAEL STRAHAN: Basically play loose, have fun, enjoy it, and to be honest with you, it’s just a game. All this stuff, all the media, all the cameras, everybody in here, this is all great. But the bottom line is when we kick off, it’s just football. It’s no different. You can be hyped and it’s going to last for a second, but after that it’s down to just executing it and being smart like we’ve done so far so get us to where we are. If we can realize that and get back to that or start that way, we’ll have a great chance of winning.
FastScripts by ASAP Sports
An Interview With:
Q. There was a lot of hype last week about the game between the Cowboys and Giants. Doesn’t seem to be as much of that this week. Is that because of the magnitude of the game that the actions speak louder than the words?
ANTONIO PIERCE: I think a little bit of both. I think of course you talk about the Cowboys and the Giants, you’re talking about a long history, a lot of games being played. For some guys like Strahan 30‑plus games against the Cowboys. It gets personal after a while. I think with <st1:city w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Green Bay</st1:place></st1:city> it’s a mutual respect.
To get to this point where you’re the final two in the NFC says a lot about your team and you don’t need to talk about it. I think all our actions and everything we want to say this week will be shown on film.
Q. Speaking of history, it seems like with Lambeau Field, Brett Favre, NFC Championship game, cold weather, this kind of has instant classic written all over it. Are you excited about the cold and just kind of the atmosphere?
ANTONIO PIERCE: I’m excited just about the opportunity to be in the Conference Championship. That’s hard to do alone. Of course you’ll look at what everybody picked at the beginning of the season. Nobody picked us to be in the playoffs, even .500. For our team, today is an accomplishment for our whole organization and our coaches. We just look forward to the opportunity. It’s going to be a great opportunity and we’re going to try to take it for the moment.
Q. Is there sort of a learning part to this?
ANTONIO PIERCE: No, we’re ready to go however. We can wear flip‑flops, we’ll wear flip‑flops. We’ll do whatever it takes to go on that field. But you know what, both teams are going to be cold. Flat out, we know what the temperature is going to be. You can’t fake it. You can’t say you’re going to be cold. Everybody is going to be cold. It’s going to be the team that’s more mentally tough and doesn’t let that affect them. At the end of the day they’re going to snap that ball and both teams are going to have to tee off. That’s all that matters.
Q. Is there a feeling of excitement in the locker room? Or is there a feeling that nobody is satisfied, that you guys aren’t done?
ANTONIO PIERCE: I don’t know why any team would be satisfied. We weren’t satisfied with being a winning team this year, we weren’t satisfied with getting to the playoffs, we weren’t satisfied for winning one playoff game. We won’t be satisfied until the final picture happens hopefully sometime in February if we can get there.
With that being said, we look forward to that game, we look forward to the opportunity to play this <st1:city w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Green Bay</st1:place></st1:city> team and the tough challenge that Lambeau Field presents to us.
Q. This team having never made it to the NFC, do you feel your team is destined?
ANTONIO PIERCE: Never in the NFL.
Q. No, not to the NFC.
ANTONIO PIERCE: But never NFC. It’s always trying is change things. History, it’s good because it always can change on you. Of course with history, the stories get better and better. Hopefully with this story that we had in the 2007 season with the New York Giants it can get better and better each week.
Q. What do you see in your team as you get ready for the game. Are you ready?
ANTONIO PIERCE: Yeah, we’re ready. We’re excited. We look forward to this opportunity. What better place to go than Lambeau Field where everybody considers football getting started? They’re one of the first teams in the NFL, I mean, long history with Lombardi and Favre and Reggie White and Holmgren, all those guys there. To be able to go there and play a championship there in the conditions we’re going to play in and for the magnitude that it is, it’s something we all look forward to and we’re going to relish.
Q. Will it be strange to look across the field and see Ryan Grant on the other side? Just several weeks back he was on your side. Kind of bizarre in a big game like this? Would you love to have him on your team?
ANTONIO PIERCE: Yeah, of course you’d love to have him, but the fact is he’s not a New York Giant anymore. Our hats go off to Ryan and the success he had this year. But come Sunday, nobody is friends out there no more. We can talk about it after the game, and hopefully we’re smiling looking over at him. But if that doesn’t work out, whatever. But with Ryan he’s a tough runner, he had a great condition with a lot to prove, and hopefully we can shut him down a little bit this week.
Q. How do you feel about the fans‘ focus this week about Brett Favre and his quest to get back to the Super Bowl?
ANTONIO PIERCE: Everybody talks about the Giants being a feel‑good story. He’s a feel‑good story. The thing about it, here’s a guy who contemplated coming back for his 17th year. He leads a very young team to a 13‑and‑3 record, second best in the NFC. Like I said, the guy could have been MVP of the league.
So why wouldn’t it be all about him? He can go out on top hopefully. For their case they’re thinking he can go out on top with a Super Bowl ring. We’re not thinking like that. We’ve got a guy here 15 years, Michael Strahan, who I think deserves the Super Bowl ring, and we’re going to try everything we can to hopefully get him to the Super Bowl.
Q. What about Michael and Amani because everybody is talking about Favre, but Strahan says, well, he already has a ring.
ANTONIO PIERCE: That’s what I’m saying. I think our focus is of course on our team. But when you look at Amani and Strahan, 12, 15 years, respectively, with the New York Giants, no Super Bowl ring. They were there in 2000 and didn’t get it. We have an opportunity right there at our fingertips where we can grab it and hopefully get past this game and more forward.
I look forward to the opportunity for us all to get one but especially those two guys. Strahan has the same scenario that Brett Favre had. And of course a quarterback is going to get a little bit more attention than our defensive end, but at the same time we have a pretty good player and Hall‑of‑Famer on our own team.
Q. He jokes around a lot.
ANTONIO PIERCE: No, he only jokes around when he’s in the pressroom. On game day you get the muscle flexing and everything else and the shouting and the cheering from him. He’s ready to go. He’s focused. I think he’s relishing the moment, too. He’s been in this business 15 years and this is only his second Conference Championship game. He understands the magnitude, and he knows not to take it lightly. He’ll be trying to tell all the younger guys, treat it like another game. That’s how we approach it.
Q. Tom Coughlin says he gives a lot to thought to his pregame speech Saturday night. How good a motivational speaker is he, and can a coach really say anything to fire you up at this stage?
ANTONIO PIERCE: He’s been getting better, I can tell you that. The ones before were kind of like bedtime stories. There was too much going on. Half the guys couldn’t relate to it. Now he’s getting up to date, to the 2000 era. He’s been doing a lot of things different each and every week. We’ve had special people come in there and talk to the people, people like that, and he’s had honorary captains. So he’s done things very differently. Of course he says things to fire guys up. He knows what buttons to push with certain guys on our team and I think he understands our mentality right now.
Q. You obviously know the tradition of linebackers. Harry Carson is going to be on the field as an honorary captain for you guys. What does that mean to you?
ANTONIO PIERCE: I think that’s big. Anytime any of us as linebackers look over there and you Carl Banks every week on the sideline because he’s reporting and you have a chance to see Harry Carson and Lawrence Taylor and anybody else who shows up, that’s important. Even for me to see Jesse Armstead who’s there most of the time. So when you get those kind of linebackers and you get defensive players and Hall of Famers like the great linebackers of the Giants, you want to go out there and play well and represent them.
FastScripts by ASAP Sports
An Interview With:
Q. Are you guys ready after this week of practice? Give us a feel for it.
PLAXICO BURRESS: The mindset is it’s one game. That’s what it’s been all week. That’s been the mindset for us as a team all year, but definitely going into this game you really don’t want to look too far ahead, you just want to concentrate on the task at hand and focus on the details that’s going to get us to the next level.
You know, there’s going to be some plays that we’re going to have to make to win this game.
Q. You’re one of the few that has played in one of these games. It’s not just a normal playoff game, it’s different?
PLAXICO BURRESS: It’s not a normal game because everybody knows that the next game is the Super Bowl. With that being said, guys are going to be physical until the whistle blows. It’s going to take great effort during the plays to get off of the line of scrimmage and make those blocks so the running back can get through the hole.
It’s going to take a lot of extra effort to get these yards that we need to win, and it’s not going to be easy. We’ve just got to go out there and lay it on the line and understand the caliber of this football game.
Q. Talk about the whistles. A lot of the Packers have been complaining about contact from players in that Week Two game, you, Amani, Shaun O’Hara, after the whistle. Your thoughts on that.
PLAXICO BURRESS: It’s football. Nothing they did ‑‑ it was all within the rules and within the game. But they can make all the excuses that they want to. It’s going to be a physical game. I said earlier, guys are going to be taking cheap shots. We know that going into the game. We’ve just got to have our mindset going into the game and be physical right back, don’t get pushed around. Just go out and play hard and do everything within the rules of the game.
Q. Your offensive coordinator said that their cornerback is going to stretch the limits of legalities. Do they do that more than most teams?
PLAXICO BURRESS: Yeah, because this is the style of defense that they play. They press guys, they come out and bump and run. They basically do it almost every play. With me and Amani, we’re going to have to be patient getting off the line of scrimmage into a jam, and our linemen will have to block it up a little bit more so it gives me and Amani time to get into our routes.
We know going into the game that it’s going to be some tight coverage. We’re going to have to make some tough plays even with the weather, the wind or whatever it may be. We’ve just got to go out and get off of the ball and get into our routes and make some tough catches.
Q. With Al Harris, the second the ball is snapped, is that like hand‑to‑hand combat with him? What’s it like?
PLAXICO BURRESS: For me, I’m the extra receiver so I’m the closest guy to the line of scrimmage. Al has extremely long arms. I do, too. When the ball gets hiked, it’s almost like who can get whose hand on who faster. It’s that type of game, trying to get guys‘ hands off you so you can get into your routes.
It’s going to be a battle. I played against him early, and he’s a physical corner, he’s a good corner, and we’re going to have to deal with it.
Q. Is there any part of you at all that’s excited about it being cold?
PLAXICO BURRESS: You know, going to the Super Bowl, you’ve got to earn it, and that’s the situation that we’re in right now. Going into this game we know it’s going to be cold and everybody knows that, but it’s mind over matter. Don’t think about the cold. Your heart will take you wherever you want to go. Don’t focus on the cold, focus on winning the football game.
Q. As a receiver is it not so much the cold for you but the concentration if it’s a windy day?
PLAXICO BURRESS: Yeah, I don’t think the cold ‑‑ like I said earlier this week, I don’t think the cold is really going to affect our route running as far as us making breaks and getting into our routes. I think with the wind, with the ball swirling around going up and dropping and taking dives and things like that, I think that’s the thing that we’re worried about as receivers, looking at the ball all the way into your hands. On Sunday nights you can take your eyes off the ball as soon as it hits your hands, but in games like this you really have to always look at it.
Q. What changes have you seen in Eli’s game? He’s been so consistent lately and he wasn’t always that way.
PLAXICO BURRESS: That’s the thing. Playing this game you want to be consistent. I think consistency will be what will take you to the next level in this game. We’ve been able to convert on 3rd down, make plays into the blitz and to the pressure, and those are some things that we’re going to have to continue to do if we want to win this game.
All we do is ask him to go out and be Eli, be consistent, put us in the right plays so we can be successful. He’s done that this far and we expect him to keep on doing it.
FastScripts by ASAP Sports