|Scott Boehm/Associated Press|
|Justin Tuck's production dropped last season, but the New York Giants stud says he's recommitted entering 2012.|
The information doesn't merely whistle in one ear and out the other. Justin Tuck hears what is out there, processes it just long enough to take note for a later date, and then dismisses it.
The New York Giants are defending Super Bowl champions, but it sure hasn't felt like that in the preseason. Not when they've been second-class citizens in the tabloids and talk radio shows that cover them.
Prominent players on the Green Bay Packers and San Francisco 49ers have spoken out in an attempt to discredit the Giants' playoff wins, as if being the team that makes the fewest mistakes makes it count for less. Green Bay's Clay Matthews and San Francisco's Donte Whitner both felt their teams lost in January, rather than New York winning -- claims the Giants can smack away with their Super Bowl bling.
And since the Giants don't exist in a vacuum, Tuck hears it. If it's not on his TV, it's on the tongues of reporters asking him about it. Same with the preseason prognosticators picking rivals like the Philadelphia Eagles to win the NFC East.
"I'm looking at it this way: If I listened to what most of your peers say, then I'll probably sit down and not play this year because we have no shot," Tuck told NFL.com after an appearance for Subway in New York City that landed him a Guinness World Record for leading 250 people in simultaneously making club sandwiches to celebrate avocado season. "But me personally, I feel confident in our football team. I know the talent we have on this team."
Tuck then paused and considered his thought. Yes, he loves his team, which is relatively unchanged from the group that secured a dramatic win over the New England Patriots in Lucas Oil Stadium six months ago. But he also cautioned that they will need some time to reconvene and become a finished product in the 2012 campaign. Tuck, though, doesn't mind offering a bold proclamation.
"I think we're going to shock some people with how we come out and play the game," Tuck said.
The loquacious pass rusher briefly considered retirement in the offseason, but says he's ready to go now. He's healthy, he feels good, and he believes he's primed to look more like the 2010 Tuck than the 2011 version.
"The biggest thing is, I know where my heart is now," Tuck said. "My heart is about going out and helping this football team win again and in no way thinking about retiring."
On the field, there are of plenty of challenges for the G-Men, most notably in their own division. The Eagles have retooled, focusing on their own cohesiveness after a disappointing 2011. The Dallas Cowboys have battled injuries this preseason, but they still boast a defense that should be far more aggressive than last season's underwhelming unit. And the Washington Redskins drafted Robert Griffin III, stocking his offense with all sorts of new weapons.
No, it won't be easy. It never is in the NFC East, which brings to mind something Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo said this spring: "Everybody beats everybody up and everybody goes 10-6 or 9-7, and whoever gets in has a shot at winning the Super Bowl or gets to the NFC title game. I think what you find is the division is hard."
"They're all big threats," Tuck said. "I think all those teams got better this offseason, considering they had a lot of talent last year. But for us, man, we don't worry about it. We worry about us, what our team does. Those teams are historically great teams and are great teams now, so we know we're going to have our hands full. And it's exciting. Everybody's going to be talking about last year and things of that nature, so the game is going to be really pubbed up when we play those teams."
See? Tuck feels the hype, processes it and moves on. Just like when you bring up barbs that the G-Men didn't earn the playoffs wins. That they didn't really earn the Super Bowl crown.
Whatever. They still have rings, don't they?
"We don't play the game to get rewarded by people," Tuck said. "I don't care if I won 10 Super Bowls in a row and y'all said, 'Well, he was lucky in all of them.' I wouldn't care. It doesn't really bother me, what people say about what we've accomplished."
Understand, there are plenty of folks who don't think this team will repeat. Even no-nonsense coach Tom Coughlin said he's taken stock of all his team's detractors. And despite the above remarks, Tuck admits that he's aware of the naysayers, too.
"I would lie to say I don't know what other people are saying," Tuck said. "It's not like I'm up at night on the Internet, searching the web to see what people are saying. But yeah, we're keeping track of it."
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