With eye on game, Fassel tries to keep focus

Coach is overwhelmed by logistical nightmare

Giants notebook

January 18, 2001|By Neil Best | Neil Best,NEWSDAY

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Jim Fassel admitted he was a bit overwhelmed by the barrage of Super Bowl-related logistical matters he faced Monday and Tuesday. But now he has cleared his desk and hopes to focus only on football.

Fassel's mantra this week has been "business as usual," and the team conducted a reasonably normal practice yesterday in the bubble outside Giants Stadium.

The game plan will be installed before the team leaves for Tampa on Sunday, but Fassel will save short yardage and goal-line work for next week. Since Sunday, Fassel has consulted with former Super Bowl-winning coaches Mike Shanahan, Mike Holmgren and Bill Walsh about how they dealt with the challenges of Super Bowl preparation.

Several players said they were happy to get back to work after two less-than-relaxing days off.

"There are so many people trying to get in touch with you," safety Sam Garnes said. "Right now, it's frustrating. Everyone is bothering me. I just want to go out and play the game and win it."

Better behave

Giants officials, coaches and veterans will remind younger players of the importance of keeping out of trouble in Tampa.

Fassel will set curfews, but players will have enough free time during the week to go out in the early evening.

"You can't be in the wrong place at the wrong time," said tight end Howard Cross, the only Giant left from the Super Bowl XXV team. "They might be planning a raid on that date. If you're caught, you could be back there drinking orange juice. You could say, `I'm the designated driver.' They don't care.

"Coach Fassel already pretty much covered it. We're going to work."

Voice from the past

Co-owner Wellington Mara said former Giants coach Bill Parcells called last week before the Vikings game to remind him of a similar challenge in the team's past.

"He said, `Ten years ago we played a high-powered team that was supposed to run us off the field, and we held the ball for 40 minutes," Mara said. "Well [against the Vikings], we held the ball for 42 minutes."

Parcells' Giants beat the Bills, 20-19, in Super Bowl XXV, with 40:33 in possession time. The Giants beat the Vikings, 41-0, Sunday and held the ball for 42:22.

End zone

Receiver Amani Toomer (ankle) and cornerback Reggie Stephens (foot) sat out practice but should be available next week. ... Fullback Greg Comella still is badly bruised after falling on his backside catching a touchdown pass Sunday. "He kept pulling his pants down to show people," Fassel said. "I said, `Keep your pants up!" ... Running back Tiki Barber said his broken left forearm has atrophied in recent weeks, so he might wear a small cast on his left forearm in the Super Bowl. He will try practicing without the cast next week. He hopes to return punts. ... Offensive tackle Lomas Brown's remark Tuesday that the Giants are a "team of destiny" created a minor stir. "All I said was that I think we're destined to win," he said. "We still have to go out there and play the game. We still have to beat these guys." ... Defensive tackle Keith Hamilton, infamous for his expletive-laced quotes, uttered one on live national TV. ... Fassel dismissed as "ludicrous" a report Tuesday in a Toronto newspaper that the Eagles claimed the Giants intercepted radio transmissions of their offensive plays.

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