Commander William Riker: "You're outmanned, you're outgunned, you're out-equipped. What else have you got?"
Lieutenant Worf: "Guile."
Among the myriad of reasons surely to be trotted out in predictions of a New England Patriots win in the Super Bowl is experience.
And going through the New York Giants' roster in search of seasoning shows that ... well, experience isn't everything.
Jeff Feagles, the 41-year-old punter who's played 20 seasons with five different teams yet makes his first trip to the finals ever for XLII, symbolizes in exaggerated fashion these Giants' lack of Super Bowl experience; not too surprising for a franchise that hoists a championship banner approximately every nine years.
Flashback to eight years ago and XXXV. Certainly one of the most anonymous teams ever to get to the biggest of big games, the 2000 Giants produced a bit of a snoozer up against the Baltimore Ravens (well, that 37 seconds or so in the third quarter was pretty good). The 34-7 blowout featured a quarterback duel of Kerry Collins vs. Trent Dilfer. Sheesh. Is this where the expression "defense wins championships" originated?
But I digress.
For the Giants in their fourth quest to hoist the Lombardi from that last NFC champion New York team are ... Michael Strahan and Amani Toomer. That's it.
Giant backers are in one way pleased that it's been a long time, as, frankly put, neither showed up for XXXV in any real sense; true, two Raven TDs were scored while the Giants' defense was off the field and much of the excellent Baltimore field position can be blamed on poor special teams and turnovers, but the vaunted leadership skills propelling Strahan into the forefront of the football fan's consciousness that season were nowhere to be seen in the Super Bowl.
All-time franchise receiving leader Toomer, meanwhile, was egregiously pick-pocketed in the third when Duane Starks sneaked in and plucked a duck meant for Toomer, returning it for a TD.
So what do the Giants have in lieu of actual Super Bowl experience? Um, how about guile?
The current New York roster includes about a dozen fortunate rookies among its members, but more admirable is the amazing core of key players the Giants have slowly incubated. From six-year man Jeremy Shockey (injured reserve) on up, the bulk of this team's youth are pure products of the system.
After Eli Manning, the under-27 crowd includes—among others—Osi Umenyiora, Gibril Wilson, Brandon Jacobs, David Tollefson, Jay Alford, David Diehl, Zak DeOssie, Justin Tuck, and sudden wunderkind (look out for this guy in 2008) Ahmad Bradshaw. In fact, about the only pre-peak player the Giants have recently obtained beyond the draft is Plaxico Burress, whose seamless addition has made him the Giants' No. 1 in receiving yards three years running.
It may not be much to hang the helmet on, but that's what these Giants have: This abstract non-statistical factor, this togetherness, this core team-ness that got these upstarts through Dallas and Green Bay and nearly a Week 17 win in New England before that.
We'll soon see if it's enough.
Perpetually remixing Hendrix at RealFootball365.com