Every team that wins the Super Bowl makes a point of stressing that no one gave it any respect. This usually means the media, and it's usually not true, but this offseason, the paranoia felt by the New York Giants not only was justified, it was caused by remarks made by rival players, not harmless reporters.
From Green Bay Packers linebacker Clay Matthews recently saying that "(the Giants) didn't beat us (in the playoffs); we beat ourselves," to San Francisco 49ers safety Donte Whitner saying days later that the Saints and Packers "were the two best teams in the playoffs, and once they went down, we felt like it was ours to lose, and we let it slip through our fingers," everyone seemed to attribute the Giants' second ring in the Tom Coughlin era to classic good luck.
How else to explain such dominating football from a 9-7 regular-season team?
Well, two longtime standard-bearers for Big Blue, defensive linemen Osi Umenyiora and Justin Tuck, finally have had enough. On Monday, they told The Star-Ledger what all Giants fans must have been thinking for a while now.
"A lot of these teams, we punched them straight in their mouth. It's not like anybody gave us anything," Umenyiora said. "... All these people coming out and saying these different things, man, how crazy is this? Sour grapes."
"I don't know if it motivates us because we were there, and we know we beat these people fair and square."
"I saw Clay Matthews say his (statement)," Umenyiora said. "I looked up at the scoreboard, they lost by 17 points. How'd you give away a game to a team that beat you by 17 points? So all these people talking about last year, obviously they're still upset about it. But we've moved on, we've moved past it, we're looking to this year."
Tuck continued to hammer the theme home.
"Last time I checkedm we won the Super Bowl, and that's what everybody strives to get to every year," he said. "The better team won. You played better that day, that's why it's a game. That's why we have the slogan: 'Talk is cheap, play the game.' "
That kind of trash talk almost is as good as an actual game.