Super Bowl is Familiar Territory for Ruegamer

Former Sun Devil Grey Ruegamer is coming back home and playing in a game he was fortunate not only to be a participant in, but also win. Prior the New York Giants' arrival in the valley, the offensive lineman shared his thoughts with Devils Digest about his experiences at ASU and playing in the Super Bowl against one of his old teams – the New England Patriots.

"It's good to come back to Arizona," said Scottsdale native and ninth year NFL veteran Grey Ruegamer. "Things are coming full circle playing here at college. Playing in the Super Bowl is a great accomplishment and playing it in Arizona is even sweeter. I'm not playing in Sun Devil stadium so that's a little different, but anytime you get to play as a professional in the city that you played college football is pretty sweet."

Ruegamer added that he definitely planned to visit the Sun Devil campus and see his old offensive line coach Dan Cozzetto, who these days coaches the ASU tight ends on head coach Dennis Erickson's staff. "Last time I was here on campus is when I played with Green bay in 2004," he recalled. "It's always fun to come to campus and I'm sure it changed a lot since I've been here."

Ruegamer was a 4-year starter (1995-98) at Arizona State; in his senior year he started every game at center and earned the Walter Camp All-America selection as well as 1st-team All-Pacific 10 Conference honors. He was also one of 12 finalists for the Lombardi Award, given to the nation's best lineman.

"Playing with guys like Pat Tillman, Jake Plummer, Keith Poole, Glen Gable, Kyle Murphy, Shawn Swayda…those were great memories for me when I played for the Sun Devils," recalled Ruegamer. "We had a great camaraderie, played in the Rose Bowl and I was just fun playing football with those guys."

The offensive lineman has naturally been somewhat of a directory information service to his teammates, asking him questions concerning the lay of land in the Valley of the Sun. However, Ruegamer admitted that he didn't have much to offer when commenting on the team's hotel - Wild Horse Pass hotel in Chandler, which was nothing but vast farm land during the lineman's playing days in Tempe. "Yeah, I have no idea about that place," he said laughing, "but I look forward to seeing it."

Not only are the New York Giants a two touchdown underdog to the New England Patriots, but their path to the super bowl was an improbable one to say the least. Not only did they play all three playoffs games on the road, but strung together a remarkable ten-game road winning streak dating back to the third game of the season.

Some cynics would point to the fact that the team succeeded away from the friendly confines of Giant Stadium due to the fact that they were far from the notoriously harsh and unforgiving New York media and fans. The Giants' lineman doesn't put much credence in that assertion and claimed it's all comes down to playing well when it matters regardless of location.

"We played well enough to put our foot in the door in the playoffs and it doesn't matter where we got the wins," Ruegamer commented. "We started real slow losing the first two games and a lot of people thought that we won't make it to the playoffs. And look at us now in the Super Bowl."

Furthermore, Ruegamer contended that despite what some say concerning the scrutiny of the New York media and fans, winning ten consecutive contests on the road is much harder than doing the same at home. "When you play in someone's house the elements are always against you," he noted. "You have to contend with travel issues and just a lot of other things that take you away from your comfort zone. It does take a little more focus and it's just a different approach all together when you play on the road."

A case can be made that the underdog role that the Giants will assume on Sunday, is familiar territory following the aforementioned 0-2 start they had. The lineman stated that just like they have been doing all season, they need to continue and prove the critics wrong. "We know what people think of us and it doesn't mean much," said Ruegamer. "We're just gonna go out there and play to win whether people give us a chance or not."

Not only does Ruegamer enter this game one of just a handful or less New York Giants players who played in a Super Bowl, but the former Sun Devil was a member of New England's squad in their Super Bowl XXXVI victory over the St. Louis Rams.

"It's nice to have that experience and be able to answer questions that the younger guys would have about this game," he remarked. "But as a veteran player you're always used to younger guys asking you questions about the game, so this week is no different. I like it that we have such a great mix in the locker room of older and younger guys. If anything needs to get done, a rookie or a veteran will step up and get it done."

At ASU Ruegamer received All-Pac 10 honors as a junior, when he played left tackle before moving to center for the final six contests. As a sophomore he earned honorable mention all-conference awards playing at both tackle and center. Ever since the 6-4 299 Ruegamer entered the NFL in 1999 he continued to display his versatility and played all three interior offensive line positions at his stops with Miami, New England. Green Bay and obviously the Giants.

"I started the first playoff game against Tampa Bay playing center and I played left guard in the fourth quarter at Green Bay," he commented. "That's something you just have to do as a lineman. I need to know to play tackle too if the team ever needed me to do that. In the NFL you're expected to be a professional that knows his job, and also knows your line mate's job. You always have to be prepared."

Preparation for the Super Bowl mostly took place back in Giants' training facility in the last seven or so days, and the finishing touches will be put in starting Wednesday here in the valley. Spoken like a true player in the trenches Grey Ruegamer expects an extremely physical contest against the Patriots in Glendale.

"It's gonna be a fist fight first and foremost," he said. "It's gonna be a knockdown drag out game. They're a great team this year and they play very sound football and we obviously have to match them in every phase of the game. We have to keep Tom Brady off the field as much as we can and score points when we have the opportunities to do so."

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